Preston’s Perspective: More Candidates Should Address Student Debt Crisis


Contributed by San Jose Mercury News

As debt tops $1 trillion, only two presidential candidates from a crowded campaign field have proposed loan reform plans.

One year before the November 2016 election to decide the next President of the United States, student loans stand at a staggering $1 trillion in federally funded debt, and none of the Republican presidential candidates have listed definite plans for any reform.

The two major Democratic candidates, however, have made concise remarks on the student loan issue. Hillary Clinton proposed a $350 billion college affordability plan, and according to, Bernie Sanders will make all public colleges and universities tuition-free. Also, he will eliminate the federal “profit” from student debt allowing borrowers to refinance loans at a more favorable interest rate.

Though some Republican candidates made statements on the issue, the debates should provide further detail of their plans to relieve the mounting student debt crisis. Similarly, Sanders should be more forthcoming with how the public will fund his proposed policies. How will we pay the salaries of professors who work for these institutions while keeping our public schools competitive? How will we keep professors from moving into the private sector because of low pay? How will we afford free college?

Clinton’s plan, which seems the more rational of the two Democratic candidates, would make students work a 10-hour week in addition to their class load, relieving the burden of debt to the students through the fruits of their labor.

Former Florida Governor, Jeb Bush, wants to reform higher education and grow the economy, according to Forbes magazine. Though he has not rolled out a finalized plan, he is known for reforming education in Florida.

In addition, Senator Marco Rubio, also from Florida, introduced bills in the past to revamp the repayment system, so student loans are more aligned with the income of the borrower. He is also in support of privately-funded loans to pay for school, rather than relying on the government to pay.

Student debt is a huge talking point that college students should be thinking about when they go to the polls next November, but it should not be the only talking point on their mind. Candidates need to be more transparent about their policies, and how exactly they plan to finance their options. If Bernie Sanders intends on alleviating the cost of attending a university through a federal tax increase, students should realize they’re pushing the bill for going to school on to the rest of America.

The Republican Party needs to get the ball moving on a plan of action. If they want to take back the nation, they need to stop catering to old white men, and cater to people these policies affect.