U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, presumptive Democratic vice presidential nominee, does not have an extensive record on higher education issues, Inside Higher Ed reported.
However, Harris is known for taking on the for-profit giant Corinthian Colleges during her tenure as California's attorney general, accusing the chain of false and predatory advertising, intentionally making misrepresentations to students, securities fraud, and unlawful use of military seals in advertisements. In 2016, she won a federal court judgement from the now-defunct Corinthian, obtaining $1.1 billion in relief for students and veterans.
As attorney general and a Democratic senator from California, Harris further advocated for debt cancellation for former Corinthian students. Additionally, she and 16 other Democratic senators recently urged congressional leaders not to allow for-profit colleges to receive coronavirus aid aimed for higher education, reported Inside Higher Ed.
During her campaign for president, Harris said she would make community college free and four-year public college debt-free. In 2017, she endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders' College for All plan, which would make public colleges and universities tuition-free to students with family income up to $125,000; make community colleges tuition-free; cut student loan interest rates in half; and triple funding for the Federal Work-Study program. She also backed a proposal by Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), which would have made room and board, books, and other college expenses free.
Senator Harris did not support broad student loan forgiveness plans during her presidential campaign, though she had a targeted loan forgiveness proposal for student borrowers who started businesses in low-income areas, reported Forbes.
In recent months, she has been a proponent of the $10,000 loan forgiveness plan pushed by many Democrats, including Biden. Harris has also called for improving the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program and is a co-sponsor of the What You Can Do For Your Country Act, S. 1203.
Last year, Harris proposed the Basic Assistance for Students In College Act, S. 2225, alongside Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Inside Higher Ed reported. The legislation would have created a $500 million competitive grant program for institutions to fund the basic needs of students, including food, housing, transportation, child care, health care and technology.
Additionally, Harris, a graduate of Howard University, proposed $60 billion in funding to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), with $50 billion going to fund scholarships, fellowships and research grants at HBCUs and another $10 billion to build classrooms, labs, and other facilities.
Inside Higher Ed