The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the views of Step Up.
Debt may as well be a more commonly known four letter word. People’s ears perk up when they hear about ways that their debt can be alieved, especially when it has to do with something as important and prevalent as student debt. Here is what the 2020 presidential candidates have to offer for student debtors.
Many candidates have already made it very clear where they stand on this topic. Bernie Sanders is one of these people. As a senator, Sanders pushed for the College for All Act . It is important to take into consideration that this act would only be for middle-class families putting a child through a community college or for someone pursuing a two-year education in another college or university. It is not an act that would make college free for a four-year (bachelor’s degree) student, which is the most common degree to get. It most certainly does not help people furthering their education and getting masters or doctoral degrees, which are the most expensive. This act would cost $47 billion each year. This money would be taken from the state as well as taxes. Some of the things that would get taxed are financial transactions such as bonds and stocks. This may not seem like much of a problem, but what you may not realize is that most businesses run partly on stocks.
Companies all over the United States could lose investors if this act were to pass. Although this act would have some economic effects, it was supported by Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Tulsi Gabbard. Although they did not sign the act in 2017, Beto O'Rourke, William F. Weld, and Marianne Williamson are also in favor of this proposition. There are many other social and economic cons that may also result from an act like this passing. However, it is not likely that it will pass.
Pete Buttigieg is a big supporter of the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program. This program applies to individuals who teach full time or for five years in a row. If you teach under these circumstances at a low-income school, this program grants you up to $17,500 towards your college debt. He also supports the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, or PSLF, which gives to people who work for the government or certain non-profit organizations and make 120 qualifying payments. These are much more ethical and responsible forms of getting rid of debt, but they certainly would not apply to everyone. Wayne Messam, a recent presidential candidate, also supports PSLF.
Amy Klobuchar takes a much different route when it comes to attacking student debt. She does not believe in a free four-year college experience, but agrees with extending Pell Grants, Federal Student Aid, and making refinancing debt easier. She thinks that free two-year programs are also acceptable accommodations, which Julián Castro agrees with. Castro also wants to make trade schools and apprenticeship programs more accessible.
John Delaney has a different thought on American education. He believes that the first two years of college should be part of the traditional k-12 program. In other words, he believes that school should go from kindergarten to fourteenth grade. He wants to make college more affordable as well, by reducing the cost of student loans. He is advocating for people to be alleviated from all student debt in the event of bankruptcy.
Jay Inslee supports the College Promise grant, which would offer financial aid to approximately 93,000 more students.
Andrew Yang says he wants to see the cost of college go down. This would happen, in part, by reducing the number of professors, thus lowering the total cost to go to college. He wants there to be a 1 to 30 student ratio as opposed to the current 1 to 21 average.
President Donald Trump has made changes to the student debt issue. He changed the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act so that student loans are no longer taxable if the individual is disabled. The American Opportunity Tax Credit has also changed, giving up to $2,500 towards debt to qualifying applicants. This option has also increased to five deductible years instead of four. He has also made the student loan payments easier but has taken away the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. Loan forgiveness has extended, there is no interest on loan payments for those still in school, and more.
Thankfully, people are starting to see the need to revisit the student debt issue. There are many propositions on how to help this problem. Some are good, and some are better. Some have many cons, and some have less. There is a pay off for any of these options, and that is a great thing to consider when siding with a candidate.