Biden's Push for Universal Preschool Could Hike Inflation, Study Shows

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event at the Central Iowa Fairgrounds January 26, 2020, in Marshalltown, Iowa. / Getty Images
June 6, 2022

Free pre-kindergarten, along with other Biden administration education proposals, could worsen inflation, which has already reached a 40-year high.

President Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign promise of universal free preschool would cost the nation more than $350 billion in 10 years, a June study from University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School showed. The move could prove to be inflationary as well, with the Wharton School study concluding it would raise government debt by 2.4 percent in 2053 relative to baseline.

Universal free preschool is one of many Democratic education proposals that could threaten the growing national debt. The Biden administration recently forgave $5.8 billion in debt for students of Corinthian Colleges, a bankrupted for-profit chain of postsecondary-degree schools, leaving the total student debt relief extended by the administration at $25 billion. Critics fear Biden’s loan debt relief measures will worsen inflation. 

"Student debt cancellation may be an extremely appealing political talking point, but it is not good policy," said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, in an April 27 statement. "It is costly, inflationary, poorly targeted, and fails to address the root problems in our higher education financing system."

MacGuineas said forgiving $10,000 per person of debt would be as expensive as universal pre-K.

Biden’s plan to expand Pell Grants, a need-based subsidy for students from the federal government, would cost $229 billion over 10 years. Because only 38 percent of Pell Grant recipients complete degrees in eight years, two-thirds of the money could be wasted, according to the Wall Street Journal editorial board.