CHESTER TOWNSHIP, Pa. (Reuters) - Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said on Thursday he would work with U.S. lawmakers if elected to tie federal funding and tax breaks for colleges and universities to a "good faith" commitment by them to lower tuition costs for students.
"If universities want access to all of these federal tax breaks and tax dollars paid for by you," Trump told a rally in a Philadelphia suburb, "they have to make good faith efforts to reduce the cost of college."
Trump did not offer specifics on how he would tie federal funding to changes in college tuition.
His Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, has proposed making in-state tuition for colleges and universities free immediately for families earning $85,000 or less, and free by 2021 for families making up to $125,000 a year.
Trump, a New York businessman, has not said much about the cost of college while campaigning. But U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, who competed against Clinton for the Democratic nomination, made government-funded college tuition central to his campaign platform.
Sanders drew a great deal of support from the youngest group of American voters, and Trump, who needs to win over more women and young people before the Nov. 8 election, took up a similar theme in his proposal.
U.S. student debt has surged about 24 percent to around $1.2 trillion since 2012, according to figures earlier this year from the New York Federal Reserve, leaving many graduates with mortgage-sized tabs before they enter the workforce.
(Reporting by Emily Flitter; Editing by Sandra Maler and Peter Cooney)