Walking down the sidewalks of Iowa State’s beautiful campus, you look around and see hundreds of students going about their day.
As college students, we face many shared challenges: homework, essays, presentations, tests, social life, tuition, etc. Generally, overcoming these obstacles can bring us closer together, but politics can still manage to polarize us.
The 2020 presidential election cycle has begun. Regardless of who you might eventually vote for, as a college student, you should take into consideration their plan for higher education. Candidates will be addressing how they plan to make the cost of continued education more affordable while maintaining the value of a degree.
A progressive plan to address the costs associated with college has become a necessity for Democratic primary challengers.
Sen. Bernie Sanders stands behind his 2016 campaign promise of making college free. His plan has morphed over the last three years to include making tuition free at public institutions for families earning less than $125,000 as well as using Pell grants to help low-income students pay for books and housing.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren has an even more progressive plan, which includes free tuition at public colleges as well as increasing the funding available for Pell grants. She goes a step further than Sanders with her plan to cancel $50,000 of student debt in households earning less than $100,000.
Warren, along with Sens. Cory Booker, Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand are co-sponsoring legislation in the Senate that would match federal dollars to state dollars in states that help students graduate debt free.
This is an especially interesting bill as it allows states to determine the best way to address financial need at their home institutions. Though certainly a progressive idea, this bill would be more cost effective as well as efficient than an overarching federal program.
However, some of the Democratic candidates don’t support free college. Sen. Amy Klobuchar has expressed that she doesn’t want to make all public institutions free out of concern for the national debt. She favors expanding financial aid to low-income students.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg has expressed concern about all of the currently proposed plans. He said he likes Warren’s idea, but wants to address a more progressive tax before helping people with what he calls too high of an income. He has also expressed concern over low-income households subsidizing the education of higher income households. Still, he favors increased financial aid as well expanded loan forgiveness.
All this being said, the 2020 election is still over a year away. Forget your bias, and do a little research to better understand what plans candidates have to address the problems you’ll be facing in the next couple of years.