Hillary Clinton has a new plan that supposedly would eliminate most college debt for students who attend state colleges and universities.

Unfortunately, Mrs. Clinton's plan would not prevent the cost of college from going up even more; it would merely transfer the cost of college to taxpayers, who may or may not have children going to college.

The cost for Mrs. Clinton's program is an estimated $350 billion over ten years. But that is before college administrators, realizing there is even money available for them, inevitably hike tuition costs.

A report in the Wall Street Journal gives the basics:

Hillary Clinton is proposing an expansive program aimed at enabling students to attend public colleges and universities without taking on loans for tuition, her attempt to address a source of anxiety for American families while advancing one of the left’s most sweeping new ideas.

The plan—dubbed the “New College Compact” and estimated to cost $350 billion over 10 years—would fundamentally reshape the federal government’s role in higher education by offering new federal money, but with strings attached.

States would have to increase their own spending on higher education, and universities would be required to control spending, though the Democratic presidential front-runner hasn’t yet worked out details. Families still would be required to contribute, but students wouldn’t have to take out loans to attend public schools.

 Mrs. Clinton places the blame for high education costs on states that have cut back on their budgets. But the problem is just the opposite: when colleges know that money will be forthcoming (as it has in the form of student loans), they raise the costs of attending college.

Colleges don't necessarily use money from higher tuition costs to hire more professors but rather more federal money in education, often in the form of backing for loans, seems to be quite a boon for bureaucrats. The real problem–which Clinton's proposals don't address–is not that there is not enough money available for students; it is that college is too expensive. That is the root problem.

A lot of people right now are reading Boys on the Boat, Daniel James Brown's remarkable book about the nine young Americans who, in the depths of the Depression and faced with enormous personal challenges, made it to the 1936 Olympics in Munich as the American rowing team.

One of the things that stood out for me: the young men in the book could actually work their way through college by being janitors and taking on other jobs, all the while maintaining a training schedule for the Olympics.

This would not be possible today. Working your way through college today would be an Olympian feat in itself.    

The problem is not how to make more money available but how to bring down the cost of a college degree. (Some ideas here and here.)

It should still be possible for young Americans to work their way through college.

Mrs. Clinton is addressing the problem from the wrong end.