Democratic Candidates Step Forward With Student Debt Relief Options

bernie_hillary_3_1024When the term ‘middle class jobs’ gets thrown around, a wide range of possibilities comes to mind, but generally, all will have one thing in common — a college education. At the forefront of issues concerning college education are two biggies — tuition and the boatloads of student debt staring recent college graduates in the face. The need for a plan to make higher education more affordable for the nation’s future students is a hot topic for all of our current presidential candidates — on both sides; however, only one party has offered up such ideas.

This issue is absolutely crucial to all students, be they former, current, or future student loan borrowers. The recent numbers associated with student debt are pretty staggering: as recently as 2013, 60% of all college students owe their institutions of higher learning for having pursued that ever-important college degree.

In terms of what they owe, the average calculation for student debt came out to $25,600 — which is up 20% from 2000. And these numbers have not gone down in the last two years, and likely will continue to rise without any attempt at reforming the system.

The burning questions that need answers include; why are students being penalized for trying to make themselves better contributors to society? Why is the system designed to create financial hardship — when the idea was to get the education to bring them away from that financial hardship.

Democratic candidates such as Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders have already rolled out radical plans to eliminate the possibility of student debt — with Sanders even proposing a plan to make tuition FREE for every undergraduate student enrolled in public institutions.

Let’s get a quick breakdown of the plans put forth by the Democratic candidates.

From the Hillary Clinton campaign:

The Plan: Reduce college costs with federal grants to states and/or colleges, as well as allow student borrowers to refinance their loans, in an attempt to relieve the debt pressure. By implementing this plan, states that spend more money on higher education would be rewarded, including those that work to reduce the cost of tuition. According to the New York Times, the plan would be paid for by reducing tax breaks for the rich.

From the Bernie Sanders campaign:

The Plan: Free college tuition! At least, that’s the ultimate goal Sanders is looking to implement. Under this plan, the idea is that Sanders would be offering states $2 of federal money for every dollar spent reducing, or completely eliminating, tuition. In order to make this a reality, Sanders has offered up what is being labeled the “Robin Hood tax,” described by ThinkProgress as the following:

“The measure would impose a 0.5 percent tax on stock trades — or 50 cents for every $100 worth of stocks — a 0.1% fee on bonds, and a 0.005% fee on derivatives trading.”

With these two plans having been proposed; one attempting to end student debt, another an attempt to eliminate college tuition, the question remains: what do Republican presidential candidates have to offer as a plan to aid students in tuition costs and crippling student debt?

Cue the tumbleweeds…

None of the Republican candidates seem to think this staggeringly important issue – the student loan debt crisis – is worth their time. 43 million Americans have student loan debt, but Republicans are more concerned with pleasing their corporate special interest friends.

The bottom line is that current and future student loan borrowers need innovative ideas put forth; efforts that would ignite the actions to completely transform the student debt crisis. A system needs to be in place that promotes student aspiration towards higher education, which will lead to better jobs for graduates. But this simply should not be at the cost of having to pay back such staggering amounts of student debt.

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