Low cost college isn't enough

Story highlights

  • Democrats are lining up behind no-debt college and low-cost college plans
  • David Perry: Don't forget that providing quality education is essential to make students successful

David M. Perry is a freelance journalist focusing on disability issues. He is author of the new book, "Sacred Plunder," and associate professor of history at Dominican University. He writes regularly at the blog: How Did We Get Into This Mess? Follow him on Twitter. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN)It looks like Hillary Clinton and her challengers in the Democratic Party are going all-in on higher education. This could be good news for millions of Americans, but only if whatever policies emerge actually help the people who need it most.

The proposals coalesce around two related ideas: free college for the first two years versus debt-free college overall. Both have merit, though they would work in different ways, and experts are debating what might be most effective.
David M. Perry
Last week, Hillary Clinton's campaign manager recently became the latest Democrat to endorse the principle of "debt-free" college. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has offered an $18-billion-a-year plan to cut the cost of public tuition in half, and on Tuesday is expected to introduce a $70-billion plan to make public tuition entirely free.
    Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, a likely presidential candidate, has e