Ocasio-Cortez is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, a leftist organization that has helped buoy the campaigns of dozens of outsider candidates running on very progressive platforms in places where Democrats like Crowley are used to winning—handily. Some of Ocasio-Cortez’s positions include fighting for Medicare for All and a federal jobs guarantee, abolishing ICE, and insisting on much more severe policing of luxury real estate development (part of the reason she has refused corporate donations).
Tuition-free college for all seems to be another part of her stance. Here is the full Vogue profile from a few days ago. She was working as a waitress while running and still paying off her student loans (NYT); her BU degree was in economics.