College education is increasingly essential in today’s job market. Far too many of us are caught in a dilemma: you need a four year degree to get a good job but even that good job won’t pay for the degree. I have heard stories of young families starting out with combined debt in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and young people saddled with unmanageable debt even though they could not finish their degrees.  This system is broken. America’s young people and workers are at risk of falling behind the tens of millions of global competitors who receive their educations for free.

We must move toward tuition-free education at public colleges and universities. As a first step in this direction, I support a program that will enable every student to graduate debt-free. We also need to explore the possibility of financial relief for those who are already drowning in debt from college costs.

L. Rafael Reif, president of MIT,  recently warned that unless we revise our college and vocational systems and create systems for life-long learning, the students and workers of today will find themselves without the necessary skills for an economy where companies are swiftly and eagerly trying to replace workers with robots and artificial intelligence. We must retool our higher education system to also provide learning opportunities to support people through job transitions.  We must rethink the whole concept of “school” for a century in which imagination, creativity, and cooperation matter far more than memorizing facts.  We must retool our higher education system to also


We cannot burden our college graduates with outrageous debts when the rest of the world offers free higher education.




Provide life-long learning opportunities to support people through job transitions.

As governor, I will never forget how much I gained personally from access to an excellent education, and I will work tirelessly to make sure that such benefits are extended further and further until we have a fully functioning, fully accessible system of education that will drive a just and sustainable future.


  • Fully fund our public colleges and  universities.

  • Immediately make public colleges and universities debt-free.

  • Develop programs to retire student debt.

  • Create public service paybacks for tuition grants.

  • Ensure computational literacy for all public college and university students.

  • Develop vocational tracks in concert with employers and unions.

  • Create community-based centers for learners of all ages.

  • Create partnerships with our private institutions to work together to plan for new directions for higher education in the 21st century.

By making college unaffordable and student loans unbearable, we risk deterring our best and brightest from pursuing higher education and securing a good paying job.
— Mark Pocan