UH Manoa Graduation

On average, graduating college students are leaving their universities with $28,950 of debt.

On Tuesday, November 8th, Americans will have the opportunity to take part in another historical Presidential election. Whether you are in favor of Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Jill Stein or are yet undecided, you are likely to possess at least some form of stance in regards to the ethics and motives of our current candidates. The news pulls its focus toward our national security, gun control, health care, government dissatisfaction and economy, but what about our education?—the very basis for which our world is built upon. 

Know your candidates, know the plans

On February 2016, at the MSNBC Democratic primary debate in New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton released a statement on her views for higher education: “My plan is debt free college for young people. I believe in affordable college, but I don't believe in free college, because every expert that I have talked to says ‘how will you control the costs?’— I want to make sure middle class kids, not Donald Trump's kids can afford college."

If Clinton is elected, she vows, via her “New College Compact” campaign, that half of the campaign’s funds will go toward grants for state colleges, reducing the cost of living expenses and ensuring that students will no longer have to take out loans to pay for tuition fees that plague the financial stimulus of the average four year university student.

Donald Trump’s stance on higher education can be summarized by his campaign advisor’s response to Clinton’s higher education plan: “Unequivocally no."

Trump believes that our education funds should be reliant on town banks and that America should bring back private banks to take on the responsibility of handling student loans rather than the government. According to the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, Trump believes that colleges should determine “loan worthiness” based upon the estimated future outlook on the student’s future earnings in regards to their major. Trump also wishes to implement alternative means of college such as online universities and Trump University—a non profit education company.

Jill Stein believes in "making higher education free as a human right." She promises to abolish student debt: “If we found a way to bail out the crooks on Wall Street who crashed the economy through waste, fraud and abuse, we can certainly find a way to help students who are some of the chief victims of that crash."

Stein hopes to use a quantitative method that was used to bail out the banks in order to ease the debt of student loans so that students can focus on their futures instead of overdue finances.

Caring about higher education means caring for America's future

We as a nation, need more college graduates in order to stay competitive in the global economy. Education costs are in a steady influx — with tuition fees at public four-year universities having increased by 13% since 2011 and by 260% since 1980 according to the College Board. As Millennials, it is vital for us to not only think about what impact these candidates may potentially have on our country but also on our futures.

The fate of America’s millennial education lies in the 2016 election. Americans owe nearly $1.26 trillion in student loan debt, according to studentloanhero.com. Fear for a future with numerous financial hardships keeps American high schoolers from reaching towards higher education. Education is the platform for which America grows. If we don’t take the necessary steps to unbury and alleviate our student debt epidemic now, how will we ever move forward?