College is expensive.
Most students work toward four-year degrees, if not more, and will find themselves with a $100,000-plus bill at the end of school.
Many students are forced to take out loans, which leads to debt. According to the Household Debt and Credit Report, outstanding student loans increased to $1.16 trillion in 2014, up roughly $77 billion from 2013.
It is clear getting an education now is more about money than it is about, well, education. That is why college students should not ignore Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. A self-proclaimed socialist from Vermont, he wants to make public college tuition free.
“Everyone in this country who studies hard should be able to go to college regardless of income,” Sanders, who leads Hillary Clinton in Iowa and New Hampshire, writes on his website.
By comparison, the former first lady wants to make tuition at community colleges free while limiting the need for families to “borrow” for four-year public schools. The proposal requires students work 10 hours a week and asks for a “realistic family contribution.”
For some, “realistic” is not much, yet either Democratic plan seems better than what some Republicans have in mind.
Sadly, Donald Trump is in this race. He says nothing about debt and tuition costs on his campaign page. In fact, he has no published stance on anything other than immigration reform. Still, people take him seriously.
Jeb Bush is thinking differently. A proponent of for-profit online education, the third Bush stands up for crazy college costs–if he can ensure institutions use money wisely.
“[Loan programs should require] more accountability so at least parents and students know which universities are really fulfilling their mission of getting students out of college with a degree that will allow them to have a job,” he said, according to CNBC.
How does that get done though? “Accountability” is difficult to enforce.
Meanwhile, Seton Hall’s own Chris Christie, a man who once owed a tuition bill similar to the $17,970-per-semester one students pay now, wants to expand alternative funding and have students pay a portion of future income. Sounds like another avenue for debt.
Which brings us back to Sanders–a candidate that is for helping students in need more than any other and should pique their interest. The question is; how feasible is his or any plan for tuition-free education?
“I don’t view these proposals as being likely to occur, as the price tags are quite large (Clinton’s plan is $350 billion over ten years, while Sanders’s plan is nearly $700 billion) and there is little appetite for these ideas in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives,” Seton Hall Department of Education Leadership professor Robert Kelchen explained in an email.
And so, a lack of cooperation between two parties stops any chance of reform before it even has a chance. That applies to any candidate, not just Sanders.
The only difference is that Sanders knows exactly what students need. Better yet, he is all for it.
Gary Phillips is a junior journalism student from Ramsey, N.J. He can reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.