One of the major talking points of last night’s Democratic Debate, hosted by CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, was the affordability of college education. The two front-runners for the Democratic Party Presidential nomination, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, made loud and clear their common goal of making public college tuition free for all.
“This is the year 2015. A college degree today is the equivalent of what a high school degree was 50 years ago,” said Sanders. “And what we said 50 years ago and a hundred years ago is that every kid in this country should be able to get a high school education regardless of the income of their family. I think we have to say that is true for everybody going to college.”
“In my view what we need to do is…make every public college and university in this country tuition-free,” Sanders added. He stated that he wants to fund students’ education through a Wall Street speculation tax, which would also lower the interest rate on student debt. He also proposed that all colleges lower their costs, which he called “outrageously high.”
Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, is proposing a plan in which “all the 40 million Americans who currently have student debt will be able to refinance their debt to a low interest rate. That will save thousands of dollars for people who are now struggling under this cumbersome, burdensome college debt.” Unlike Sanders, however, Clinton believes that college students should have to work 10 hours per week, in order to help finance their education. Clinton herself worked part-time to put herself through college and law school. “As a young student in Nevada said to me,” Clinton added, “the hardest thing about going to college should not be paying for it. So then we have to make it more affordable.”
According to CNN, the average student debt in 2014 was $29,000, and has been steadily increasing since the recession in 2008. The nationwide student debt last year was $1.2 trillion. Though we wish the debt problem had started being addressed a long time ago, we’re glad the discussion is finally happening. Let’s just hope that these candidates will stick to their word if elected!