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Feb 15 2016
by Bianca D'Agostino

College Tuition and the Presidential Candidates: A Breakdown

By Bianca D'Agostino - Feb 15 2016

After the results of the Iowa Caucus on February 1st, it is clear to see who the frontrunners are for the 2016 Presidential election. For the Democratic Nominees, it's a race to the finish between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, with Clinton just beating Sanders in the national polls despite Sanders' win in the New Hampshire caucus. Swinging over to the right side, the top Republican Nominee according to national polls is currently the outspoken Donald Trump who holds a pretty big lead over Senator Ted Cruz. So now that we know who has the largest chance at being the nominee for each party, that brings us to my main point: how are these candidates going to take on the problems of student debt and college tuition?

Democratic Forerunners

Hilary Clinton

According to her campaign website, Clinton's goals for conquering student loans and tuition debt is broken down into three ideas:

1) Ensure no student has to borrow to pay for tuition, books, or fees to attend a four-year public college in their state.

2) Enable Americans with existing student loan debt to refinance at current rates.

3) Hold colleges and universities accountable for controlling costs and making tuition affordable.

As outlined by the New York Times, Clinton plans to allot around $175 billion in grants to each state. The money granted would, "...guarantee that students would not have to take out loans to cover tuition at four-year public colleges and universities." This would be accompanied by the state granted money to, "work to slow the growth of tuition." So obviously lowered tuition and less student loans sounds great and all, but the cost for this plan would be $350 billion over 10 years to the government--increasing our national debt. 

Bernie Sanders

Self-proclaimed "Democratic Socialist" is sticking to his values as his goal is to have college tuition be free and debt free, as stated on his campaign website. To do so, he has a six-step plan:

1) Make tuition free at Public Colleges and Universities 

2) Stop the Federal Government from making a profit on Student Loans

3) Substantially cut student loan interest rates

4) Allow Americans to refinance student loans at today's low-interest rates

5) Allow students to use need-based financial aid and work study programs to make college debt free

6) Fully paid for by imposing a tax on Wall Street speculators

Within these steps, Sanders specifically wants to make tuition free at public colleges and universities similar to how other countries are currently acting. He aims to have the interest rates of loans drop from 4.29% to 2.37%. To finance this radically new plan, it would be $75 billion dollars a year with his new tax on Wall Street stock investment transactions, also known as "speculations." 

Republican Frontrunners

Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz has yet to state what he is planning to do with the student loan and high college tuition costs, but in this brief clip linked here, he explains his stance. Cruz has also stated that he can relate to the ridiculous amount of loan debt as he had around $100,000 in loan debt that he recently just paid off himself. Cruz has not spoken much on the subject as his campaign is primarily surrounding "Restoring the Constitution" and Immigration policy. 

*Note: There has not been much discussion on his plans to conquer the student loan/tuition dilemma as many of the debates and questions in the Republican party debates have been geared towards immigration, gun laws/defense of the 2nd Amendment, and tax reform.

Marco Rubio

Rubio has a defined plan of action in regards to his perspective of this problem. Like many others, he has broken it down into 6 key points:

1) Simplify Existing Incentives to Help Students Pursue Higher Education

2) Equip Students and Families with Information Necessary to Make Informed College Decisions

3) Reduce Burden of Student Loan Debt by Establishing Automatic Income Based Repayment (IBR)

4) Reform Outdated Accreditation System to Accommodate Non-traditional Education

5) Invest in Student Success

6) Modernize Higher Education System to Fit 21st Century Economy

He explains it more in this video shown below, his main focus is to create a new Student Loan repayment system called "Income Based Repayment," in which the amount of student loans and the pace in which a graduate pays them back at is based on how much you are making in your new job, post graduation. Another goal is that Rubio wants everyone to who is even considering college should be informed on how much they will owe before attending college as he currently lobbies for the bill, "Right to Know Before You Go." So in summary, Rubio's plan is centered on empowering students in an attempt to reform the "outdated and broken" higher education system.

Donald Trump

Unlike his fellow candidates, Trump does not have a defined plan of action for taking on student loans or the high rate of college tuition. Despite this, he has stated his opinion on the matter; in an interview with The Hill back in 2015, he states that, "They’re [the students] in college — they’re doing well but they’ve got student loans up to the neck. They’re swimming in these loans.” He promises to counter this excessive loan debt by creating jobs. Trump has not spoken much on the subject as his campaign is centered around having an overall "Competent Leadership" and government reform. 

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Bianca D'Agostino - University of Connecticut

Bianca is a freshman at the University of Connecticut majoring in business and minoring in communications and international business. She political articles and loves to be involved on her campus. Bianca loves to read, run, knit and craft. You can follow her on Instagram @biancadag!

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