They say that the best things in life are free. Well, the best things might be free, but the essential things, like a college education, tend to come with quite a heavy price tag. Ready for a cringe-worthy statistic? The average cost of college annual tuition at a for-profit four-year college is $35,000, with some colleges topping the $50,000 dollar mark. Unfortunately, the average collegiette does not have that kind of cash lying around in loose change at the bottom of her backpack. As a result, student debt in America has surpassed 1 trillion dollars in the past decade. Not only is that more than Brangelina, Posh and Becks, and Bey and Jay make in a year combined, it also means that student debt in America now exceeds credit card debt. The average student, once she graduates, owes more than $25,000 in student loans.
To make already dismal matters grimmer, the job market has been suffering since the country went into recession. Finding a job post-graduation to begin paying back those student loans is now harder than ever. Students who pay for college on student loans are frequently unable to pay them back after graduation, sink further into debt, and see little to no returns on the education they have received. Many students have simply thrown their hands in the air, and decided not to attend college at all due to the costs. Not only are these students cheated out of a (figuratively…) priceless education, crucial networking opportunities, and life-lasting friendships, they also are put at a significant disadvantage in today’s already competitive job market. Obviously, none of this is ideal.
This election season, the issue of student loans and higher education reform is a hot topic among the presidential candidates. Both President Obama and GOP nominee, Governor Mitt Romney agree that a successful future for the United States depends on easier and more affordable access to higher education. However, they fundamentally disagree on the best way to achieve it.
The dog days of the 2012 presidential campaign are well under way. As candidates (and their particularly long-leashed supporters) buckle down with hard-hitting accusations against each other, it can be hard to know exactly where they each stand. We’ve broken down the most important elements of President Obama’s and Governor Romney’s respective plans for education reform. We want to help you see how their plans will affect you and figure out which one you want to support.