Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled a $700 billion plan Tuesday that would grant free community college tuition in the United States and double the number of Pell Grants available to low-income students.
The plan, titled "College Access and Affordability," would also increase federal spending on higher education to aid low-income students.
Bloomberg's plan allows certain disadvantaged students to attend four-year public institutions and vows to forgive loans tax-free after 20 years.
"At its best, higher education serves as an engine of social mobility and a pathway to the middle class. But our current system is not fulfilling that promise," the plan states.
"Mike's plan ensures cost is not a barrier to a quality post-secondary education."
Bloomberg's plan also pledges to reduce federal undergraduate loan payments through automatic income-based repayment, and caps monthly rates at 5 percent of discretionary income.
"It provides students with credentials to equip them for middle-income jobs, gives talented low-income students the opportunities they deserve, and reforms the student-loan system so no one pays more than they can afford," the plan says.
Bloomberg has made significant gains in recent polling and will participate in the Democratic primary debate in Las Vegas Wednesday, his first.
The campaign said the plan would cost $700 billion and would be funded by raising taxes for wealthy Americans.