Clinton and Trump for Community College- How will they Help?

Time for us to choose the new president of the United States, no pressure. For anyone just tuning in, the presidential race has been quite a circus, and both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have a thing or two to say about their plans for college education if elected into office.

Haley McGlynn is a second year Santa Monica College student and nursing major. Struggling to stay awake in class and at work, she does not sleep very much. Haley works over forty hours a week and still somehow manages to make time for evening classes, “I show up to class exhausted,” she says.

Haley is twenty two years old and does not receive much financial help from her parents. She stresses about her finances, especially her future in student loan debt, “my parents made me take the loans out in my name.” Completely responsible for them, Haley is nervous about not having a steady job to pay off the loans after she graduates. She goes on to explain that having a free college education would stress her out a lot less.

McGlynn being as busy as she is, says she does not always find time to follow the presidential race. She supports Hillary Clinton for office, but is not aware of Clinton’s or Donald Trump’s plans to benefit the country’s community college system.

In an interview with Haley, she explains how she was not planning on voting in the 2016 election, and goes on to admit that, “I don’t know what Trump or Clinton’s plans are to help community college students.”

The community college system has faced many hardships in the twenty first century, and was greatly affected by the 2008 housing market crash. Earlier this year, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities found on average, in-state tuition has gone up $3,611 a year for California public college and university students since 2008. Large reductions in funding caused schools to make budget cuts and raise tuition, resulting in student loans having to be taken out by families and students like Haley.

Student loans are probably the largest concern for American voters regarding higher education. According to Josh Mitchell at The Wall Street Journal, student loan debt has crossed the $1.2 million mark. One trillion of this amount, being owed to the federal government. Which leaves the remaining amount owed to private lenders such as banks, private schools, and credit unions. Mitchell also found, “more than 40% of Americans who borrowed from the government’s main student-loan program aren’t making payments or are behind on more than $200 billion owed.”

Could we potentially be sending ourselves into another financial crisis? This hurricane of nonpayment must be taken into the consideration for our new President, and appropriate actions must be taken.

In his book, Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again, Donald Trump expresses his concern for the student loan crisis “student loans are probably one of the only things that the government shouldn’t make money from, and yet it does. And do you think this has anything to do with why schools continue to raise their tuition every year? Those loans should be viewed as an investment in America’s future”

Sam Clovis, a policy advisor for Trump and speaker on his behalf, told Inside Higher Education that the Republican candidate wants student loans to originate with banks and other private institutions, not the federal government. Although doing so would easily pull the plug for the federal student debt crisis, this could potentially be a risky decision. Many students receive federal loans, because they are more likely to qualify for them, rather through banks. Students taking out loans from banks are often are required to have a cosigner, show proof of credit, etc. Not to mention private lenders do not subsidize loans, and have variable interest rates, which could increase up to rates high as 18 percent.

Hillary Clinton however, proposes a plan to offer college tuition without having to pay loans. At an town hall meeting in Exeter, New Hampshire, Clinton outlines her vision for the proposal, “no student should have to pay tuition at a public college or university. Everyone who has student debt should be able to refinance it at lower rates.”

This proposal involves $175 billion in grants so students at public colleges and universities do not have to take out loans. This amount of money also disallows for schools to make budget cuts to increase spending over time. This plan would eventually lead to tuition free community college.

Her proposal will eventually allow students from families with an annual income of $125,000 a year or less (83 percent of our population) will be able to go to a public college or university tuition-free.

Studies from the Public Policy Institute of California have shown that in recent years, universities have faced much larger reductions in funding than community colleges. However, unlike universities, community colleges are dependent on state general fund support. Tuition and fees for in-state residents at public colleges nationwide have increased by more than 40 percent since 2004.

Trump has also voiced his ideas to either shift or cut the U.S. Department of Education’s office, including that for civil rights. According to his book, Crippled America, Trump believes that “education should be locally managed.” Doing so would put an end to policies across the country that took years to be decided. While on the other hand, the localization of education could allow communities to have more freedom with school curriculum, not having to follow that of the state and federal departments.

The U.S. has it’s first woman to be chosen as a major party presidential candidate, running against a real estate mogul and reality television icon; it could not be any more compelling. At this point, it is difficult to predict the future of higher education, so the words of each candidate must be interpreted carefully. The election has definitely caught the attention of the American people, especially that of young adults, including Haley McGlynn, a Santa Monica College student, “I know so many people who are obsessed with the election, but for some reason they just don’t vote.”

Despite all the excitement of this election, national polls anticipate a low voter turnout for 18–24 year olds (common for presidential elections). Community college students, making up a large percentage of this age bracket, are not voting. Students need to be well-informed of the issues regarding our higher education system, such as the lack of subsidies for public colleges, and most importantly- the student loan crisis.

Haley is not alone with her indecision to vote. She, among many other students, need to remember the importance of higher education, and the role it plays in our society.

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