The full results are in (yes, we're looking at you Florida), and it's four more years in the White House for President Obama. If you're anything like us, you're positively giddy about another term of observing Michelle Obama's fabulous wardrobe and hitting up J Crew for a matching cardi. But, when it comes down to it, collegiettes of every political persuasion can't help but get serious and ask: what does this mean for me?
We're here to help answer that, with the following guide to what a second Obama term means for America's college women:
In Lena Dunham’s ‘Girls’, young college grad Hannah gets pushed into the deep end of adulthood when her parents stop paying her living costs. If you watched the quirky show, you probably looked at your own empty clutch and recognized a kindred spirit. Unfortunately, TV makes even the stereotypical post-grad struggle look exciting and glamorous.
What’s not so glamorous outside of a hit series? Having to choose between paying off loans or paying off your credit card bill—and let’s face it, with the cost of many private colleges exceeding $50,000 a year such a scenario is more than real.
As part of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007, college graduates can opt to limit loans repayments to less than 15% of their income. In this repayment plan, loans are forgiven after 25 years. President Obama took the act one step further. A proposal made in his 2010 State of the Union speech became the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, which changed the percentage of income required to 10% and forgave loans after 20 years.
Some have said that a downside to this legislation is that it encourages students to take out more loans and attend grad school, because the benefits of grad school in a poor economy are up for debate.
The President’s student loan policy has a fan in Bill Clinton, though, who has applauded President Obama for ending reliance on private companies to issue federal loans. This cutting out of the “middle man” has allowed the Pell Grant program to grow by $17 billion dollars since Obama took office, however, the amount of aid given is not keeping up with rising tuition rates.
We all know how a budget works: want new Tory Burch flats? Skip Starbucks for a month. Time to buy textbooks? Forget take-out. And although we know that the federal deficit is so mind bogglingly huge it could buy a lifetime of ventis, we also know that neither Democrats nor Republicans are happy about it.
The real disagreement lies in how to raise enough money to pay for what the government spends. Republicans say to close loop holes in regulation, and cut programs that they believe are unnecessary rather than raise taxes. Democrats, including the President, want to cut spending but also allow Bush tax cuts on the wealthy to expire.
President Obama defines “wealthy” as those individuals making more than $250,000 a year. He would extend tax cuts on the middle class. Before the President can implement his policy, he’ll have to get a Republican majority House of Representatives to agree to it. Should it pass, though, the effect on you as a collegiette is dependent on what your family makes.
The fact of the matter is, the jury is out on how the President’s policy will effect the economy. Conservatives argue that the wealthy are job creators, and that tax cuts that benefit the $250,000+ tax bracket are beneficial to everyone in the long run.
Those who disagree say that a thriving middle class is crucial to a healthy economy, and the wealthy can afford to contribute more to paying down the deficit.
Kudos to you if your first job comes with a $250,000 salary, but it’s unlikely. What is likely? You want your family’s lifestyle to stay stable, and the economy to right itself. That’s something both sides of the aisle aspire for.
Birth Control and Abortion
Obama supports the continuation of federal funding to Planned Parenthood, a source of affordable birth control and emergency contraceptives for many women—particularly those with a low income.
Obama’s re-election pretty much guarantees that the Affordable Care Act of 2010 won’t be overturned, which is great news for collegiettes paying out of pocket for the pill. In addition to requiring all Americans to have health insurance (see Health Insurance section below), the law requires that employers offer women a health care plan that includes free contraceptives.
You know what that means--you won’t be left high and dry when you can’t hit up the campus health center for Plan B.
The greatest opposition to this facet of Obamacare is that it conflicts with the viewpoints of religious employers, so it will be interesting to see how that particular conflict between church and state is resolved.
As for the issue of abortion, Roe v. Wade is the Supreme Court case that says abortion is constitutional. Some of the Supreme Court justices are getting up in years, and may retire during President Obama's second term. In that case, he will be likely to appoint a judge that will uphold Roe v. Wade--although pro-life politicians desire that it be overturned.
The New York Times quotes the Center for Disease Control data saying that in the year after The Affordable Care Act was passed, the number of young adults without health insurance decreased by one-sixth. This is because the act allows children to stay on their parent’s health insurance until they are 26.
So while you worry about finding your first job, first apartment, and a roommate for said apartment that doesn’t mind that you sing in the shower, at least you won’t have to worry how you’ll pay for a hospital visit if you get sick. Sweet.
On the flipside, there are a lot of concerns about how The Affordable Care Act will affect the medical industry. Collegiettes looking to go to medical school may already be aware that there will be a shortage of doctors to treat all of the newly insured Americans once Obamacare is fully implemented.
Furthermore, this shortage will be most prominent among primary care givers—who make less than specialists like plastic surgeons.
“The Obama administration has sought to ease the shortage,” reports The New York Times, “The health care law increases Medicaid’s primary care payment rates in 2013 and 2014. It also includes money to train new primary care doctors, reward them for working in underserved communities and strengthen community health centers.”
However, the article goes on to say, these trainees will only account for about 3,000 of the 45,000 doctors that will be needed…meaning that the money you save staying on your parent’s health insurance just might go towards the gas required to travel to an available doctor.
Did you read this Her Story about being an illegal immigrant at an Ivy League school? In it, one anonymous collegiette writes: “President Obama has changed everything for people like me. With his recent executive decision to grant individuals in my position the ability to work legally in the United States, I am one step closer to being the normal ‘American’ girl I have always perceived myself to be.”
The executive decision that the author refers to was issued last June. It stated that illegal immigrants brought to the United States before they were 16 can qualify for a work permit and amnesty from deportation if they have spent at least five consecutive years in the states, have no criminal recorder, and have completed high school or military service.
Although immigration reform is likely imminent, it is in every collegiette’s interest to consider the plight of her peers, such as the Her Story author. On every campus, maybe even sitting next to you in class, are hard-working students who seek a pathway to American citizenship.
Whether you agree with President Obama’s methods or not, it is right that something be done to address their situation.