Sunday, January 17, 2021

Candidates tackle student debt

The latest graduating class will have the most student debt on record, according to The Wall Street Journal.

While former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders have released plans outlining what they plan to do about this issue if elected as president, businessman Donald Trump has not, according to his website.

A 2014 study showed that 7 in 10 students are graduating from public colleges like Plattsburgh State with student loan debt, according to the Institute for College Access and Success.

PSUC Economics and Finance Professor Colin Read said Trump has not yet released a plan because he does not support increased public funding for education.

“From an ideological perspective, there’s less support of large government and public funding for things that can be provided in the private sector,” Read said.

Some students know about Sanders’ college tuition plan “The formula for setting student-loan interest rates would go back to where it was in 2006. If this plan were in effect today, interest rates on undergraduate loans would drop from 4.29 percent to just 2.37 percent,” according to his website, BernieSanders.com.

PSUC graduate student and education major Stephanie Boutin said she supports Sanders for president, saying that he stands for “affordable college” and does not want students to not be in as much debt as they are in now. Boutin also said the government should “increase taxes on the rich” and support more funding for public education.

“This $75 billion-a-year plan is fully paid for by imposing a tax of a fraction of a percent on Wall Street speculators who nearly destroyed the economy seven years ago,” Sanders’ website says.

PSUC senior accounting major Nicholas Reid also said he supports Sanders for president and knows his college debt plan. Reid approves of tuition-free college, but is not sure if it would work.
“His plan might not be practical, but it’s good that he’s making this a major issue of the election,” he said.

PSUC Director of Student Financial Services Todd Moravec takes a similar position. He said that while the plan sounds great to students and voters, it may be very difficult to fund.
“My main concern is not that the plan is not worthy to fund, but what it would mean for colleges,” he said.

Read said a major reason many students are concerned with this issue is that “student loan burden is higher than ever.”

However, Read doesn’t believe it’s been all bad.

“The Obama Administration has been kind of helpful in that they’ve allowed students to pay back their loans based on their income,” Read said.

The focus of Clinton’s plan “promotes college affordability,” according to her website. Part of her plan is to make community college free for all. President Obama has proposed this as well.

Both Clinton and Sanders aim to cut interest rates on student loans.

“This one change, if enacted today, would cut interest rates nearly in half and reduce future interest rates. It would reduce loan payments by tens of billions of dollars in the next ten years, easing the burden on undergraduate borrowers,” according to Clinton’s website.

However, Read said interest rates are not the problem.

“Interest rates are already relatively low. I don’t think that’s the affordability issue,” Read said. “I think the affordability issue is the cost of college. I’d be happy to pay 4 percent on $30,000 in debt compared two or 3 percent on $80,000 in debt.”

PSUC senior accounting major Libby Morris does not support tuition-free college, but instead wants tuition to be “more affordable.”

Although Trump knows about student debt, he hasn’t released a detailed plan on how to address it.

“Students go out, and they borrow money from the federal government, and the colleges keep going up, up, up (tuition), much more than they should be,” Trump said at a January campaign rally in New Hampshire.

Morris is on the side of the many students concerned about college debt, looking for someone who “wants to help.”

Email Joseph Bochichio at joseph.bochichio@cardinalpointsonline.com

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