Debt, tuition an extremely hot debate between the Democratic candidates

When Carnegie Mellon University English professor Jeffrey J. Williams began writing about student debt in the 2000s, “nobody was paying attention to the issue.”

They are now.

When he looks around his classroom, “a lot of students in front of me — their heritage is starting out with debt.”

The issue is the subject of sharp debate in the Democratic presidential contest between candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. And the issue may be especially potent in Pittsburgh, a city that prides itself on its “eds and meds” economy.

The candidates’ plans have much in common: Each offers free education at community colleges, for example, and allows students with existing debt to refinance their loans at better rates. The major difference between the candidates’ plans can be summed up simply: tuition-free versus debt-free.

(Next page: Delving into each candidate’s plan)

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