By Amanda Becker
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton would more than triple enrollment in the public-service program AmeriCorps to 250,000 and offer participants increased college aid as part of her plan to make higher education more affordable, her campaign said Thursday.
AmeriCorps participants who complete two-year assignments at nonprofit entities, community organizations or public agencies, followed by an additional year of public service, would receive $23,000 in tuition assistance, double the current maximum of $11,550. The education awards, which are currently taxed as income, would also be tax free, the campaign said.
"Young people willing to commit to public service deserve to live free from the crushing burden of student debt," Clinton said in a statement.
Clinton has said if she is elected president in November 2016 that she would make it possible for students to attend in-state colleges without accruing debt.
Earlier this month, Clinton announced a plan to increase access to tuition grants, allow graduates to refinance existing loans at lower interest rates, streamline income-based repayment plans, police predatory lenders and provide additional aid to student parents.
The total estimated cost of Clinton's education proposals is $350 billion over 10 years and would be paid for by capping itemized tax deductions for the wealthy. The AmeriCorps portion of the program would cost $20 billion over that period, the campaign said.
(This story has been refiled to correct paragraph 2 to two-year assignments instead of year-long assignments, adds an additional year of public service)
(Reporting by Amanda Becker; Editing by Dan Grebler)