Pete Buttigieg on Student Debt & College Affordability

pete buttigieg

Getty Democratic presidential candidate South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg on June 15, 2019.

Pete Buttigieg has talked about debt forgiveness and that the price of a college education is too high. He is not on board with making higher education completely free for all Americans, though he does support a tuition-free option for lower-income and middle-income families.

Buttigieg is one of the only Democratic presidential candidates in the 2020 field with student loan debt. He and his husband, Chasten, owe more than $140,000 between them.

Here’s what you need to know.


Pete Buttigieg Proposes Tuition-Free College for Some Students & Expanding Pell Grants


Town Hall with Pete Buttigieg | Part 3Democratic 2020 presidential candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg discusses lessons learned from his military service, student debt and his plan to do away with the Electoral College with moderator Chris Wallace in Claremont, New Hampshire. Watch Part 1 here: youtu.be/p97xg-keEKg Watch Part 2 here: youtu.be/Y3sr0RtIfgI Watch Part 4 here: youtu.be/fnTW4Ufosws FOX News operates the FOX News…2019-05-20T00:44:38.000Z

Pete Buttigieg addresses the issue of college affordability on his campaign website as an element of freedom. He states that he supports making public college free for students from lower-income families “through a state-federal partnership… combined with a large increase in Pell Grants that provides for basic living expenses and keeps up with inflation.”

Buttigieg says that middle-income families should be able to send their kids to college tuition-free as well. He also proposes “more dedicated support” for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions but does not get into details as to what that would look like.

During a Fox News town hall on May 19, Buttigieg explained that it falls on the individual states to help bring the cost of public universities down. Without going into specifics, he said that the federal government could create enticements to make this happen. “We’ve got to work with the states and press them, using a kind of carrot-and-stick approach from the federal government, in order to make sure that they are carrying enough of the load that it doesn’t all come down on the students.” In the video embedded above, the topic of college affordability comes up at the 5:00 mark.


Buttigieg Has Proposed Allowing Graduates to Refinance Student Loans, Just Like a Homeowner Can Refinance a Mortgage

Senator Elizabeth Warren has promoted the idea of forgiving all student loan debt. Pete Buttigieg is not willing to go that far because of the high cost, according to Forbes.

During the Fox News town hall referenced above, Buttigieg compared student loan debt to a homeowner with a mortgage. “I think if I can refinance the mortgage rate on a house, you ought to be able to do that with your student debt.”

Buttigieg has also promoted expanding Public Service programs, specifically for teachers. He has said that any college graduate with some level of debt should be able to participate in a public service program to either reduce or cancel their student debt. But he has not yet publicized a more detailed proposal for how to implement this.


Pete Buttigieg & Husband Chasten Glezman Hold a Substantial Amount of Student Debt

GettyChasten Glezman Buttigieg (L) greets his husband, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, after he delivered a keynote address at the Human Rights Campaign’s Las Vegas Gala on May 11, 2019.

Pete Buttigieg is approaching the student debt crisis and college affordability with a perspective that is unique among the rest of the Democratic primary field: he holds a lot of student debt himself.

Both of Buttigieg’s parents, Joseph Buttigieg and Jennifer Anne Montgomery, were professors at Notre Dame. Buttigieg would have been eligible to receive tuition assistance had he attended Notre Dame.

Instead, he chose to enroll at Harvard University and then Oxford. Buttigieg’s husband, Chasten Glezman Buttigieg, earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin and a master’s in teaching from DePaul University. According to Buttigieg’s financial disclosure form, he and his spouse owe between $140,000 and $365,000 in student debt. The form only requires candidates to select a range as opposed to disclosing exact amounts.

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