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Election season is in full tilt and unless you have been hiding from television and social media you know that the lines have been firmly drawn over many issues. Among the top issues like healthcare and the economy we find the student loan debate. Both candidates have very different views and in this article we will take a look at some of the finer points to see just where each candidate stands on THE Student loan debate.

The issue:

Currently the primary responsibility for education falls to states and local government in the United States. However the federal government also has a large say in what goes on with higher education. They award billions of dollars’ worth of aid; however there is more often than not strings attached. 

Obama vs Romney Student Loan Debate

Where they stand on the issue:

Both President Obama and Senator Romney agree on one thing (maybe the only thing they will ever agree on!) and that is the No Child Left Behind education law needs some serious revisions. Sadly on this part of the student loan and education debate President Obama has upset part of his support base. How did he do that you ask? He has included things such as charter schools and teacher evaluations in his education policies effectively angering some of the teachers unions. Governor Romney says that the policies make sense however he and President Obama have a different view on the overall federal role in education and programs that use public money to send children to private schools like voucher programs.

President Obama has made many statements that College needs to be more accessible for Americans and Congress has actually agreed with him. They approved a college tax credit for $10,000 over a four year span it will also increase Pell grants and several other forms of financial aid. Romney has to come in on this issue with the argument that any increase in federal student aid will encourage college tuitions to go up as well. Romney’s side of the student loan debate in this arena includes a preference to see private lenders returning to federal student loan programs. Both candidates did find a little more common ground on the issue in agreeing that the federal government needs to support moves that block interest rates from doubling on new Stafford loans this coming fall. Learn more about President Obama’s loan forgiveness program – HERE


Why does it matter:

Did your parents ask “What did you do in school today?” when you went to school? Very likely so and it is still the universal question that gets asked by parents of young students and old students. When polled by an Associated Press poll this year 8 in 10 parents said that the student loan debate and education issues in general were very important to them.

Despite this importance the United States is behind many other countries in areas such as math, reading and science crippling our nation to compete globally. There is a growing need for college or post high school training to get ahead in the job market these days and the cost of higher education is either saddling our students with huge amounts of debt or keeping them from going at all. President Obama has issued a challenge to all Americans to commit to a year of college or career training such as a trade school so that we can compete more as a nation, but what about all of that debt? The costs of higher education are really leaving this country short of the Presidents goal to have the U.S be at the top of the world in college graduate percentages by 2020.

While both candidates have been debating the importance of education state budget cuts have affected student loans and every other area of education. Colleges and Universities have to make due with less and this causes a trickle-down effect to the kids on secondary and elementary school. We have seen worse classroom experiences and teacher layoffs making class sizes larger.

Our federal government has only contributes a small fraction of the $1.15 trillion dollars that has been spent on education and student loans for education over the last year. However it continues to yield a great influence over issues like teacher quality, accountability and accessibility.

One example that we have seen about the federal influence can be seen in President Obama’s race to the top competition. This competition gave billions of dollars of grants to states that we know supported education policies that Obama supports. Waivers were also given to states that were not meeting key requirements of the No Child Left Behind act if they put reform plans into place that the federal government approved. The Republican side of the debate than charged that the Obama administration was usurping power from Congress. However it did result in offering a little more wiggle room for our schools and the students within them.

So which side do you fall on with the student loan debate? No matter which candidate you support we all have a responsibility to educate ourselves and think about the future of our children and education in this country.