Lost in the hoopla over his sexual dalliances, Donald Trump announced details on Thursday about student loan reforms.

“We would cap repayment for an affordable portion of the borrower’s income, 12.5 percent,” Trump said at a rally in Columbus, Ohio. “If borrowers work hard and make their full payments for 15 years, we’ll let them get on with their lives,” he added, meaning that any debt remaining after 15 years would be forgiven.

Trump is smart to push for income-based repayment plans that are more manageable than an inflexible monthly payment. Politically, it can only help him, as he has frequently placed third or worse in polls of voters under age 30. President Obama, to his credit, has been similarly trying to expand the number of debtors eligible for income-based repayment plans, with payments capped at 10 percent of income and debts forgiven after 20 years.

But there’s one problem with forgiving debt after 15 years: it’s expensive, and it puts taxpayers on the hook. It also doesn’t get to the heart of the problem that is causing most student loan defaults.

“If you were going to give loan forgiveness in 15 years, you’re going to forgive a lot more debt than you’re going to make up for in the form of the higher payments they’re proposing, by a lot,” Jason Delisle of the conservative American Enterprise Institute told the Washington Post. “I don’t even need to run the numbers.”

As expensive as Trump’s plan is, Hillary Clinton’s plan may be even worse. Goaded by progressives into adopting a plan more attractive to Bernie Sanders’ supporters, Clinton wants to make college tuition-free at instate public universities for any family earning less than $125,000 a year. The price tag for taxpayers? According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, over a decade it would cost between $350 billion and $800 billion.

The fact that college costs a lot of money is not in itself evil, even if the federal government’s “aid” to students has played a large role in inflating that cost. It probably encourages students to pursue productive, well-paying majors such as engineering instead of fruitless majors of the underwater-basket-weaving variety.

Free tuition probably wouldn’t create more college graduates anyway. As Max Eden of the conservative Manhattan Institute points out, low-income students already attend community colleges for, on average, nothing. But only a third of them graduate. The cost of college isn’t the big obstacle between them and a degree, it’s lack of academic preparedness caused by a bad education in a dysfunctional grade school system.

Before legislators can fix the student debt problem, they and the public need to know what a typical defaulter is like. It’s not someone who attends a four-year college and then graduates tens of thousands of dollars in debt. Typical defaulters are students who graduated from community colleges or for-profit schools. These account for 70 percent of those who defaulted within two years of starting loan payments in 2011. They graduate with fairly low amounts of debt: about $11,700 per person in 2014, compared to $26,500 in debt for those coming from four-year schools.

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But community college graduates aged 25-34 make, on average, $20,000 less per year than graduates of four-year schools. It’s low incomes that cause most defaults, not high debt. The student debt “crisis” is mostly an issue of labor economics, not costly tuition. A cheaper, more effective step toward helping students would be to remove barriers to low-skill work, reform occupational licensing, and a crackdown on accreditation agencies that place unfit schools on the federal dole.

Neither Clinton’s nor Trump’s student debt plans address the specific problems behind this crisis. They will only create new problems for taxpayers, while failing to solve the one problem they intend to fix.

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