Democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg calls for national service plan that offers student debt relief

Key Points
  • Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg proposes a plan to dramatically expand service opportunities for America's young adults while offering them financial incentives such as debt relief.
  • "A New Call to Service" aims to create a network of 1 million national service members by 2026, Politico and other outlets report.
  • The South Bend, Indiana, mayor's plan combines opportunities for service with financial benefits for young adults who could be eligible for student debt forgiveness, vocational training and hiring preference.
COLUMBIA, SC - JUNE 22: Democratic presidential candidate South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg addresses the crowd at the 2019 South Carolina Democratic Party State Convention on June 22, 2019 in Columbia, South Carolina.
Sean Rayford | Getty Images

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg on Wednesday proposed a plan to dramatically expand service opportunities for America's young adults while offering them financial incentives such as debt relief.

"A New Call to Service" aims to create a network of 1 million national service members by 2026, Politico and other outlets reported.

Buttigieg, who will introduce the plan today in Iowa, said it was prompted by his own service in the U.S. Navy Reserve, which taught him valuable skills such as how to engage with people of differing views.

"National service can help us to form connections between very different kinds of Americans, as was my experience in the military," Buttigieg said in a statement. "I served alongside and trusted my life to people who held totally different political views."

The South Bend, Indiana, mayor's plan combines opportunities for service with financial benefits for young adults who could be eligible for student debt forgiveness, vocational training and hiring preference.

The plan targets high schools, community colleges, vocational schools and historically black colleges and universities, as well as young adults ages 16 to 24 who are not working or attending school, Politico reported.

The initiative would increase the ranks of national service members to 250,000, more than tripling the existing 75,000 positions, which would cost $20 billion over 10 years, according to AP. It's unclear how those and other costs of the program would be covered.

Through the plan, Buttigieg would fund existing groups such as Americorps and create new types of organizations akin to Climate Corps, Community Health Corps and the Intergenerational Service Corps.

The ultimate goal is to create a pipeline for up to 4 million high school students who would take part in the programs annually.

Previously, presidential candidate Seth Moulton released his own "National Service Education Guarantee," a plan focused on the 33.4 million Americans between the ages of 17-24. His plan would also offer financial incentives such as supplemental college tuition and vocational training.

Buttigieg's plan offers a new approach to attack student debt, an issue that other candidates for the Democratic nomination have also taken on. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., announced a plan to forgive the country's $1.6 trillion in student loans, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D.-Mass., suggested legislation that would eliminate $50,000 in student loan debt for each of 42 million Americans.

The Buttigieg campaign did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.

Next Article
Key Points
  • Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren isn't waiting for the election to push forward her proposal to erase the majority of the country's outstanding student debt.
  • The Massachusetts senator and Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) announced on Wednesday their plan to introduce legislation in the House and Senate to eliminate up to $50,000 in student loan debt for 42 million Americans.