FREE College For Everyone, Anyone!

The idea of FREE college has started to pick up more over the last week. It first started to make headlines when President Obama laid out his plans for free community college during his State of The Union, but recently everyone is talking about it. By everyone, I mean 2016 presidential candidates.

Does not matter if they are republican or democrat free college is at the top of their agenda! Why? The reason why is simple. Student loan debt is on the minds of everyone whether they went to college or not. It is on the minds of those who graduated and are trying to pay off student loans and it is on the mind of parents who have children going to college in the future. What do all of these people have in common? They can vote!

Last week Hillary Clinton took free college to a new level when she announced that any student that wanted to go to a four year public university could go for FREE! Well, really they would just get their tuition covered, everything else like room and board would not be free. When Hillary made this announcement every media outlet covered it and wrote about it. NPR did three shows about the announcement of the “New College Compact” plan. The plan would cost $350 billion dollars over ten years which is significantly higher than the $60 billion dollar program that President Obama announced. The $60 billion dollar program was frowned up by republicans so you can imagine what was said about $350 billion!

Don’t think that republicans are going to let such a large group of voters slip away. 37% of American households have student loan debt and it is the highest debt at $1.2 TRILLION dollars behind mortgage debt. Republicans want to take a different approach by allowing college students and graduates to deduct the cost of education from their taxes over the course of their careers (Rand Paul). Marco Rubio wants to allow students to spend federal aid on programs outside of traditional colleges as well as letting private investors cover college costs in exchange for a percentage of a graduate’s future earnings.

I am not going to give my opinion on which plan is the right plan YET, but I will say that all the plans have one target in front of them and that is higher education institutions. In the mix of ALL the plans is cost control. Both sides of the aisle are going to require that public institutions lower or freeze tuition. They are also going to require that colleges take on more of the financial burden when students default on loans which at the present time 1 out of 3 borrowers have been delinquent at least a month on their student loan. The plans will require the institutions to spend a higher portion on their budget on instruction and less of their budget on new buildings and administrative costs.

I could go on and on, but you get the picture. Both sides are going to ride the student loan debt train in 2016 and no matter which party gets into office one thing is for sure they are determined to make changes to the higher ed system. Whether that change is good or bad is yet to be seen. By the way I know which one could be good and which ones would be terrible ;)

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