Where the Top Presidential Candidates Stand on College Affordability
It is fortunate that the dynamic of the collegiate world has shifted towards inclusivity; you no longer need to belong to the upper echelons of society to attend. We now acknowledge that a bachelor’s degree as almost necessary to “make something of ourselves” in society and live above the poverty line.
Then why does each graduating class experience debt from student loans? Is higher education a privilege or a human right when it comes to quality of life and closing the class gap?
It all seems relative to your perspective, but if you’re anything like me and will be leaving college further in the financial hole, the 2016 presidential election may partially determine your fate as you enter the “real” world.
I applaud the programs currently in place to support low income students, however, there is a need to decide whether or not we should be punishing those who have some but not all of the means to cover costs associated with higher education. We see a widening in the class gap and the ever-increasing prices of food, shelter, transportation and other costs of living. As a country, we can only combat certain aspects of this inflation, but education has the most significant effect on reducing unfavorable circumstances for our citizens.
Education of an individual can have disproportionately positive effects for those in the vicinity of the graduate. However, it is also considerably more difficult for low-income or median-income students to even make it to college. In fact, “half of all people from high-income families have a bachelor’s degree by age 25, [while] just 1 in 10 people from low income families do.’
The previously quoted, 47-page report from the Obama administration is comprehensive in nature but as the hysteria of the upcoming election continues to increase, it’s necessary to analyze the feasibility of the candidates’ plans for higher education.
Those of us attending universities in Florida are fortunate to have some of the lowest tuition rates in the United States, but decisions by the new president would have a significant impact on the 33 percent of UF students who graduate with debt or receive federal aid.
So, where do the top polling presidential candidates stand on college affordability and student loan debt?
Right off the bat I have to acknowledge my bias as a Sanders supporter. I adore his democratic socialist platform, outside of free college that is.
As a Democrat, Sanders has suggested the elimination of tuition at state universities and at public colleges. In order to cover the expenses he would impose a tax on “high-speed trading and other forms of what he’s described as Wall Street speculation.” He would also reduce defense spending.
Moreover, Sanders would reduce the interest rate on undergraduate student loans to 2.37 percent (from the current 4.29 percent) by allowing those with debt to refinance.
Other countries have successfully eliminated tuition at public universities, but I personally do not believe we are ready for this transition or that we would support it in practice. It seems it would be more effective to raise the ceiling on the FAFSA to include anyone whose household income is under, say, $80,000. That way students don’t have to concern themselves with loans, but also do not need to worry where all of this money is going to come from (considering that one cannot premediate all the costs associated with eliminating tuition).
If you so choose, visit Sanders website he elaborates on how he would make college debt free.
The demographic of the UF is diverse and fairly representative, so I am naturally unable to comment as to what proportion of our student body would choose to vote for the Trump.
However, he’s still pretty high in the national polls, so in case you were curious Donald Trump doesn’t have a plan in terms of student loans but he has stated in a past interview that the government should not make money off of student loans.
The problem here is that Trump only points out an issue but provides no comment on what he would do to mitigate the issue.
Clinton wants to pick and choose from existing proposals to be able to “offer grants to states to reduce future student debt and allow students to attend with a minimal, wage-based contribution.”
Clinton’s plans are pretty comprehensive and referred to as the “New College Compact”.
Although community college would be free if Clinton were elected president (and it’s reasonable to require students to work 10 hours a week and contribute to their education), she suggests that families would need to make “realistic contributions.”
Those currently familiar with FAFSA and their ISIS awards and contributions print out may already be quite aware that a “reasonable” family contribution is quite the opposite. They basically suggest that any slightly disposable income your parents have should go to your education, which is far from reasonable. I’m curious what sorts of calculations the Clinton administration would use to determine estimated family contributions.
Clinton puts a lot of the responsibility on colleges themselves to “improve outcomes and control costs to ensure” affordable tuition and her plan has a price tag of about $350 million overall, which she intends to pay for with tax adjustments for the wealthy.
With Cruz’s climb to second in the polls for the GOP, it seems like a good time to look at Cruz’s plans for higher education.
Cruz actually doesn’t have any recorded beliefs on anything other than primary education.
If you’re interested in his positions on primary education, you can read about them here .
Rubio is relatively competitive in current GOP polls and is also one of the few Republican candidates that includes higher education in his platform. He believes that the collegiate system as a whole is outdated and seems to want to update the information available to current and potential college students while doing more to support “non-traditional” forms of education such as trade school.
In terms of student loans, Rubio wants to establish “income-based repayment” which would allow borrowers to make payments as a proportion of what they earn. Those who have already graduated and have student debt would be able to participate in this system.
For those who want to avoid loans altogether, Rubio plans to allow students to apply for “student investment plans” which would allow investors to finance students education.
It seems as though such plans would require minimal investment by the government so one is not left asking “where would the money come from?”
Rubio seems to have his business in order here. You can read more about his plans for rejuvenating postsecondary education here
As we enter 2016, the primary elections now loom over us. As a current college student, a future college student or the family of a college student, plans for higher education reform (or lack of) by a given candidate will have a significant effect on your future.
It isn’t reasonable to require young Americans to attend college and then leave a significant portion of them in debt as they attempt to begin their careers.
There is more than one answer to this complex issue, but I believe education should be treated as a basic right and a viable option for everyone, rather than an impending expense.