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Aug 11 2016
by Madeleine Williamson

Here’s What the Presidential Candidates Think About College Affordability

By Madeleine Williamson - Aug 11 2016

It’s no secret, especially to students, that college is expensive - sometimes prohibitively so. New research even shows that it’s almost impossible to work your way through college. The cost of college and the debt we take on to afford it has become a major political issue. Here are the presidential candidates' views on college affordability and student debt.

Donald Trump

“I don’t want to raise the minimum wage. I want to create jobs so people can get much more than that, so they can get five times what the minimum wage is,” Trump told The Hill last month.

Trump’s website lists no specific platform on student loan debt or college affordability. As he told The Hill, Trump plans to ease these burdens by improving the economy as a whole. But he did question whether the federal government should offer student loans. “That’s probably one of the only things the government shouldn’t make money off. I think it’s terrible that one of the only profit centers we have is student loans,” he said.

Hillary Clinton

“No family and no student should have to borrow to pay tuition at a public college or university,” Clinton said Monday in New Hampshire.

Earlier this week, Hillary Clinton’s campaign introduced their plan to make college more affordable. It's called the New College Compact, Politico reported. The plan will cost $350 billion over 10 years. Clinton plans to offset the cost by eliminating tax breaks on the wealthy. Public community colleges would be tuition-free. Students would graduate debt-free from public four-year colleges. This draws on ideas proposed by her opponents during the Democratic primaries. Sen. Bernie Sanders proposed tuition-free college. Gov. Martin O’Malley made debt-free college part of his campaign.

Clinton also plans to address debt by lowering interest rates on federal student loans. Her proposal would allow borrowers to refinance their loans at these lower rates. Her website also details plans to “simplify the repayment process.”

Gary Johnson

“If guaranteed government student loans never existed, tuition today would be half of what it is, because colleges and universities would have to go out and attract you as a student,” Johnson said in a June International Business Times interview.

Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson’s website makes no mention of college affordability. Yet his education platform does propose eliminating the Department of Education. This would also mean eliminating federal student loans. He said that this will make colleges compete for students’ business, lowering prices. “If every college student tomorrow says, ‘I'm not going to go to college until the price of college, university education drops,’ guess what? It would,” he said.

Jill Stein

“Education as a right: Free a generation of Americans from debt servitude,” Stein's platform says.

Green Party nominee Jill Stein’s plan addresses both studen loans and college costs. Stein would forgive all current student loan debt and make public colleges tuition-free. Stein is the only candidate proposing free four-year college, not just community college.

Candidates have taken up college affordability as a major issue this election season. Time will tell if students respond – and whose plan they like best. Expect the issue to come up in the debates and in the news as Election Day approaches.

Lead Image Credit: Becky McCray via Flickr Creative Commons

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Madeleine Williamson - DePaul University

Madeleine Williamson is a freshman at DePaul University majoring in journalism and minoring in political science and Spanish. She loves tea, stationery and exploring her new hometown of Chicago.

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