Clinton offers Temple students debt relief, urges them to vote

Hillary Clinton tells students that she is the candidate to speak to their needs, such as student debt levels.

Hillary Clinton, campaigning Monday at Temple University, told college students - many of whom are drowning in debt - that she's the candidate to address their needs.

"No one will work harder to make your life better," Clinton said, promising to give young people a say in White House decision-making.

Clinton told the crowd of 300 at Mitten Hall that she has a plan that would offer debt-free public college for everyone, apprentice programs for those who opt to not go to college, and high-quality child care for every family. The pitch was part of her campaign's push to get millennials involved and committed to voting for her in November.

The Temple event was open to the public but aimed at students. Another 350 listened from an overflow room.

The Democratic presidential nominee's speech focused on her past work with children and families - starting when she graduated from law school and worked for the Children's Defense Fund - and how she would continue that as president.

"I am going to close my campaign the same way I started my career: fighting for kids and young people and families," she said to applause.

Clinton said she has worked with Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who was popular among millennials during the Democratic primary, to develop an affordable college plan for everyone. Clinton wants to offer tuition-free public college for working families and have every student graduate debt-free. For those who already have student debt, she said, her administration would work to help people refinance so payments would not be more than 10 percent of a graduate's monthly income.

"Getting an education should give you a boost, not hold you back," she said. "But as you know better than most, tuition keeps going through the roof and debt keeps piling up."

Several students in the audience could relate to the plan.

Ray Crozier, a Temple junior, has racked up $15,000 in debt and expects to graduate with much more. Yet he said considered himself lucky.

"I'm one of the few students [whose] parents will help me out a little," he said, noting that he knows a lot of students who owe a lot of money.

From the start of Clinton's administration, students from families with an annual household income of $85,000 or less would be able to attend a four-year public college or university tuition-free. By 2021, the free college plan would include students with an annual family income of $125,000 or less.

Eighty-six percent of Pennsylvania households and 74 percent of New Jersey households would qualify for free tuition, the Clinton campaign said.

The free tuition plan for millions of students would be funded through the closing of high-income tax loopholes, a Clinton aide said.

During Monday's rally, Clinton said that those who don't want to go to college should have access to good-paying jobs such as being welders, machinists, and health technicians.

"We're offering new tax credits to encourage companies to offer paid apprenticeships that let you earn while you learn and do more to dignify skills across the board," she said.

Clinton vowed to fight for increased minimum wage and equal pay for women, the latter receiving a standing ovation from many women in the room.

She begged those in the audience to vote in November.

"This is going to be close," she said. "Not voting is not an option."

Clinton used some of her 30-minute speech to criticize her opponent, Republican nominee Donald Trump, saying that he "incites hatred and violence" and has "normalized" hate speech.

Natalie Strom, spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, released a statement following Clinton's Temple rally, saying that millennial voters "know the real price of the failed liberal policies that Hillary Clinton promotes."

"For the last eight years they have been coming of age in a country that is less safe, less prosperous, and less free," Strom said. "From the ineffective economic agenda that she promises to double down on to the dangerous foreign policy she helped craft as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton would only bring another term of stagnant job growth, higher taxes, and a weaker national security."

Last week, her campaign launched "Pennsylvania Millennials for Hillary" and other similar groups throughout the country as a way to garner support from the large voting base that is credited with helping to elect President Obama in 2008. The millennial supporters will knock on doors, make calls, and host local events, the campaign said.

"There's no doubt in my mind that young people have more at stake in this election than any other age group," Clinton told the Temple crowd.

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