COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Al Gore said Thursday his proposal for a college tuition tax credit would save most families about $2,800 a year and assure that college would not ''be limited to families of wealth and means.''
On a campaign stop at the University of Maryland, just outside Washington, Gore said his education plan would include a new tax-free savings program to help parents save for the rapidly increasing costs of higher education.
In his speech to about 1,000 people packed into an outdoor amphitheater, Gore said his tuition proposal would allow families to claim either a credit or a tax deduction of 28 percent on up to $10,000 in tuition and fees for any post-secondary education, including college and vocational training schools.
Gore's staff said most families with a child in college would be able to claim the full $2,800 credit.
''It is time to make the largest investment in education since the G.I. bill,'' Gore told an audience that included students, union members and Democratic activists.
Gore's proposal also would involve a new ''401j'' provision to which workers and their employers could contribute just as they do for 401k retirement accounts.
Invested earnings could be withdrawn tax-free if used for any education expenses.
Gore also proposed a national tuition savings plan that would link tax-free savings initiatives started in some states to allow parents to begin saving for their children's education from birth.
Under Gore's proposal, existing state programs would be linked into a national program, and states without them would be encouraged to join.
Gore said his education proposal, like the rest of his tax plan, would target working class families while the tax proposals advanced by George W. Bush would mostly help wealthy Americans.
''I will not support a giant tax cut for the wealthy at the expense of anyone else,'' he said.
Gore's aides distributed a paper comparing the effects of the two plans on a married couple earning $60,000 with a child in college. The family would save $1,025 under the Democratic plan compared with $600 under Bush's plan, said Chris Lehane, a Gore spokesman.
Bush appeared with a Louisiana family in New Orleans - father earning $40,000, with a wife and two small children - and estimated their tax bill would drop from $2,075 to $475 under his plan and not at all under Gore's.
Gore's quick trip into Maryland was sandwiched between a morning meeting with Mexico's President-elect Vicente Fox and a pair of fund-raisers with running mate Joseph Lieberman. The Democratic National Committee dinners in Washington were expected to raise $1.5 million.