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Here’s What Our Next President Thinks About Student Loan Debt

By: HealPay

Bakhtiar Zein / Shutterstock

Student Loans

Borrowers are falling behind on student loan debt, which has reached an astonishing $1.3 trillion in the United States.

Will the next President of the United States do anything to change that?

Hillary Clinton, Former Secretary of State and Former New York Senator

Hillary Clinton made headlines in August when she announced her New College Compact. The plan would prevent students from having to borrow to pay for tuition, books or fees to attend a four-year public college in their state. Pell Grants would be separate, allowing recipients to use their grants for living expenses.

“Now, I’m a little different from those who say free college for everybody,” Clinton told voters at an event in October. “I am not in favor of making college free for Donald Trump’s kids. I am in favor of making college free for your grandson by having no debt tuition.”

Under Clinton’s plan, which would cost $350 billion over 10 years, students could receive free tuition at community colleges. Clinton would allow students to refinance their loans at current rates. She also plans to cut interest rates for future undergraduates. And everyone would be able to enroll in a “simplified, income-based repayment program” that would allow borrowers to pay no more than 10 percent of what they earn.

Donald Trump, Real Estate Developer and TV Personality

During a recent Q&A on Twitter, Donald Trump said that student debt is a “tremendous problem” and that he would “restructure it.”

“We’re gonna make it possible for people to borrow money, go through college, get through it,” said Trump. “We’re gonna make it so it’s very affordable. Right now, it’s not fair. It’s one of the only places, frankly, where our country actually makes money, and they make a lot of money, and that should not take place. We’re gonna make it really good for the student.”

Bernie Sanders, Vermont Senator

Bernie Sanders published his full college tuition plans on his Bernie Sanders personal website. As President, he would take six steps to make college tuition debt free:

“Make tuition free at public colleges and universities”

“Stop the federal government from making a profit on student loans”

“Substantially cut student loan interest rates”

“Allow Americans to refinance student loans at today’s low interest rates”

“Allow students to use need-based financial aid and work study programs to make college debt free”

“Fully paid by imposing a tax on Wall Street speculators”

John Kasich, Ohio Governor

During the third Republican debate, Ohio Governor John Kasich was asked how he would eliminate the economic burden of student loan debt. He said the system is already changing in Ohio and that universities will not get paid “one dime” unless the student graduates or completes the course.

Now he plans to go after the cost-drivers in universities.

“Universities today have so many non-academic assets,” he said during the debate. “At Ohio State they sold the parking garage and the parking lot and they got $500 million because they shouldn’t be in the parking lot business. They shouldn’t be in the dining business. They shouldn’t be in the dorm business.”

Kasich believes that online education can be used to reduce these costs. He also spoke about the possibility that students could pay off “some” of their debt by doing public service. He did not say what that public service would entail.

Martin O’Malley, Former Maryland Governor

Martin O’Malley hasn’t provided as many details as his democratic competitors, but he has made one thing clear: “We can’t afford to make loans easier to pay off, only to have colleges keep raising tuition costs.”

O’Malley explained his strategy on his campaign website, noting that colleges must be held accountable and direct financial aid to the students that need it most.

“Our ultimate goal must be for every student, most especially low-income and middle-class students, to be able to go to college debt-free,” he wrote. “But making sure our students get a far better deal on their loans is a crucial first step.”

Jeb Bush, Former Governor of Florida

During the third Republican debate, Jeb Bush rejected Kasich’s strategy. He said the federal government does not need to be involved in this issue.

“Because when they do, we create a $1.2 trillion debt,” said Bush.

He added that Florida has the lowest in-state tuition of any state, an achievement he attributed to accountability. He thinks that each individual state should handle the problem.

“You’ll create a much better graduation rate at a lower cost and you won’t indebt the next generation with recourse debt on their backs,” he said.

HealPay blogger, Louis Bedigian.