“Let’s … make debt-free college available to everyone. … And let’s liberate the millions of Americans who already have student debt.” Hillary Clinton, June 22, 2016
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin
“Education’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one.” – Malcolm Forbes
In recent years, a college education has become even more important than ever before. Ms. Clinton proposes a common-sense approach to making college affordable to all, and also helping those who are already struggling under a mound of college debt. I am especially impressed by her concern with student-parents who are juggling children, a job, college, day-care, and other obstacles. A college education is an investment in the future of our nation, and should not be viewed as ‘entitlement’ or a drain on the federal budget.
Hillary Clinton’s plan to make college affordable for all includes:
Every student should have the option to graduate from a public college or university in their state without taking on any student debt.
All community colleges will offer free tuition.
Everyone will do their part.
A $25 billion fund will support historically black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, and other minority-serving institutions.
The one-quarter of all college students who are also parents will get the support they need and the resources they deserve.
Borrowers will be able to refinance loans at current rates, providing debt relief to an estimated 25 million people.
Delinquent borrowers and those in default will get help.
To reduce the burden for future borrowers, Hillary will significantly cut interest rates.
Hillary’s plan will crack down on predatory schools, lenders, and bill collectors.
A new payroll deduction portal for employers and employees will simplify the repayment process.
Aspiring entrepreneurs will be able to defer their loans with no payments or interest for up to three years.
Hillary will take immediate executive action to offer a three-month moratorium on student loan payments to all federal loan borrowers.
For additional details of Ms. Clinton’s plan, see the fact sheet
In the last decade, many have argued that a college education no longer has as much value as it once did, and some have even argued that it is better to forgo college for more technical, career-focused training programs. I looked into a site that listed the pros and cons of a college education. Four of the top ten reasons listed against a college education pertained to student loan debt. The average ‘Class of 2016’ graduate has $37,172 in student loan debt after four years! I received my BS many years ago, worked 2 and sometimes 3 jobs, and was fortunate enough to be awarded a number of grants and scholarships, so I came out of college debt-free. But that was then and this is now. My daughter, who earned her RN a few years back, is struggling under more than $30,000 debt to this day, so I certainly understand the problem. (For a quite interesting history of the college debate dating all the way back to the 1600s, check out this site )
A 2011 Pew Research survey showed 50% of college presidents said college is meant to “mature and grow intellectually,” while 48% said college should “provide skills, knowledge and training to help… [students] succeed in the working world.” I would argue that both are true. Certainly one of the goals of attending college is to prepare for a successful career, but perhaps even more important, at least in my view, is that college teaches one to reason, to think for oneself, to view the world from a wider perspective. In any case, I do not agree that college is no longer “worth it”, however I do agree that coming out of college in debt to the tune of $37,000 is overwhelming, to say the least.
Ms. Clinton’s proposals are not in support of a completely free education, nor should they be. Her proposal is to make college affordable, make debt affordable through reasonable interest rates, and help those students who most need financial help. She proposes dividing the burden among colleges, state governments, the federal government, and high income taxpayers. All of which makes sense. Her plan is well organized and would benefit not only those wishing to attain a college education, but ultimately our nation as a whole. Think of it this way: If only the children of the top 1% can afford to attend college, then a decade from now, the people running the nation, managing the large corporations, will all be elitists, spoiled children of the wealthy who have no care, no concern at all for those who are less fortunate.
So, where does Ms. Clinton’s opponent stand on this issue? A visit to his campaign website netted the following results:
- Work with Congress on reforms to ensure universities are making a good faith effort to reduce the cost of college and student debt in exchange for the federal tax breaks and tax dollars.
- Ensure that the opportunity to attend a two or four-year college, or to pursue a trade or a skill set through vocational and technical education, will be easier to access, pay for, and finish.
It is rather lacking in both substance and detail for implementation. In other areas, such as campaign speeches, rallies, and press conferences, he has proposed the following:
- Trump has proposed tying student loan decisions to borrowers’ job prospects — an assessment that likely would be based on a student’s major. I find this discriminatory, as computer science majors would qualify for more assistance than would liberal arts majors.
- He thinks the Department of Education could “largely be eliminated,” but did not elaborate on how the $28 billion spent on Pell Grants for students would be affected.
- He wants colleges to set more stringent standards for who is admitted, denying access to those it deems unlikely to succeed. Now, if that isn’t a recipe for discrimination, then I don’t know what is!
Suffice it to say that Ms. Clinton offers a more effective, realistic, and fair program that would help people from all income groups have equal opportunities to craft their futures. Additionally, it would also help those who are already burdened by the heavy debt of their college education.