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Why Debt-Free College is Important Enough to Cast Your Ballot at the Polls

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I am in my 50’s, and still in deep debt for going back to college. If it is stressful for me think how stressful it is for those in their 20’s and just graduating deep in debt. My story is for another time, this story is about our future and how Debt-Free College is so important, not only for our youth, but for the future of our country.

Lets step back a minute. Late September 2016 brought about an amicable appearance by Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders. The purpose? To demonstrate to the voting public and observers the importance of education from early childhood forward. Sanders, an advocate of affordable, quality education for all ages, had two important messages. The first one was his official endorsement of Ms. Clinton’s plan for debt-free college. The second was to explain why a Clinton presidency will honor that goal, as opposed to the education proposals by Republican candidate Donald Trump.

What are the differences and similarities between education platforms? The one similarity is that both candidates support charter schools. Clinton leans towards approval of Common Core and supports teachers’ unions, Trump is critical of teachers’ unions and has promised to get rid of Common Core. Voters have the challenge of sorting through their own beliefs before November 2016’s election.

Donald Trump wants to take $20 billion from existing federal monies to fund a voucher program allowing school-age children, particularly those living in poverty, to attend their choice of school, whether public or private. He believes that the free market practice will improve school performance and curriculum. Officials and voters in cities and states, as well as designated school districts, would need to support the plan and contribute an additional $110 billion of their educational budget. The result would be a $12,000 school choice voucher to each student from kindergarten through high school who is living in poverty.

Hillary Clinton states the program would devastate the already financially strapped public schools in the nation. Taking approximately 30 percent of federal tax dollars from public schools would result in adversely affecting students from all walks of life. She believes universal preschool and quality childcare will help young children develop learning skills and the education necessary to succeed in college and beyond.

Mr. Trump’s camp indicate he is in favor of college students borrowing money from private banks, if needed, and that he would end government participation in the student loan system. He opposes Clinton’s proposal. Senator Sanders emphasized Hillary Clinton’s plan for debt-free college, the New College Compact, which she first proposed in late summer 2015. The plan addresses debt-free tuition at four-year public colleges and universities based on family income.

Sanders emphasized that the election is important to all families. The result has an impact on low income and middle class youth whose economic future will benefit from free tuition. All students would qualify for free community college. Certain high-interest loans already in place may qualify for lower interest rates and/or repayment amounts (based on refinancing). Students from families with annual earnings of $85,000 or less would be the first group covered by the plan. Income would rise to $125,000 maximum by 2021. A portion of the government funding is expected to be realized from additional taxes paid by high-income Americans due to the cutting of tax deductions. Hillary has said the national debt will not be increased because of her plan.

Former President Bill Clinton regards the New College Compact as another way for Hillary Clinton to continue her efforts to make positive changes in the United States. Students are more likely to attend and complete debt-free college, leading to better jobs and a boost in the economy. It also provides an incentive to maximize learning opportunities in earlier grades, leading to improvements in overall education.

Make your voice heard through early voting, voting by mail, or visiting your polling place on election day. The right candidate really does make a difference. A vote for Hillary is a vote for a better nation and lifestyle for America. We own it to our youth and our future to make college Debt-Free for all.

 

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