The leading Democratic candidates for president have released proposals aimed at expanding universal access to education both before kindergarten and after high school. In a new analysis published on Urban Wire, we question whether the voluntary state-federal partnerships underlying these proposals will ultimately exclude too many Americans.
Hillary Clinton’s college plan would provide federal grants to states that “step up and meet their obligation to invest in higher education by maintaining current levels of higher education funding and reinvesting over time.” Bernie Sanders has introduced legislation that would provide additional funding to states to eliminate tuition and fees at public colleges if they meet a number of requirements. Both candidates have announced intentions to make high-quality preschool available to all Americans.
But we show that, if past experience with Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act is any guide, up to* 40 percent of potential beneficiaries may be excluded from these plans because they live in states led by governors that refuse to participate.
Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and their supporters need to carefully consider whether a state-federal partnership model will ultimately leave out too many people and exacerbate existing educational inequalities.
*This post was updated to clarify the true percentage of those potentially affected.