Politics Every College Student Needs to Pay Attention to

We are only one-tenth through the course of the presidential primary elections. What this means is that we, the people of the United States, are voting for two people who we believe will be the most ideal candidates for the presidency. One Republican and two Democratic candidates have stood the test of five primaries and caucuses so far — Senator Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump. 

Being so young and still relatively new to politics, it's difficult to venture out and search for information when we don’t even know what we're looking for. However, it's important to know who we are electing and what we are voting for. While we all have separate opinions, here are five main policies that we, as students and young adults, should pay attention to.

  1. 1. Education

    woman reading book and taking notes

    As college students, the cost of education might be one of the more important policies we look at when electing a candidate. Yes, there is readily available federal aid, but not for each and every person pursuing a degree. The gap between economic classes makes it difficult to ultimately decide who is more deserving of government money. 

    All four leading candidates for the presidency have different views on how we should approach college tuition in the United States.

    • Biden wants to propose free community college

    • Sanders wants to implement a College for All Act

    • Trump does not completely support free college 

  2. 2. Climate Change

    poster of planet and one world

    Whether you believe in global warming or not, you can’t fight the facts. The planet's average temperature has risen almost 2 degrees Fahrenheit, a change that was contributed to by the large increase in carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere. Climate change initiated the melting of northern ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland, which has in-turn significantly increased the rise in sea-level and has attributed to the recent intensified heat waves across the globe. Most presidential candidates want to implement a plan to improve conditions, while others believe it shouldn’t be a priority for the United States. 

    • Sanders and Biden all want to rejoin the Paris Agreement and end fossil fuel subsidies. 

    • Sanders wants to ban fracking and fossil fuel exports

    • Biden wants to put a tax on carbon

    • Trump withdrew from the Paris climate agreement and replaced Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which in turn led to weaker regulations on carbon emissions

  3. 3. Healthcare

    doctor holding stethoscope

    Let’s face it, health insurance is complicated. Some of us college students will have the opportunity to hang on to our parent’s health insurance plan for a few more years after graduation. However, we still need to be able to interpret and comprehend confusing policies, so that we are informed enough to vote for a candidate during this election. Even if we are protected under someone else’s insurance, we may find ourselves needing an independent plan somewhere over the span of the next four years. This may greatly affect who we ultimately cast our votes for. Provided are some of the candidate's opinions on healthcare.

    • Biden wants “Medicare for All." This would offer government-run health insurance options on the Affordable Care Act, allow employer-sponsored policies to sign up for the public plan, and it promises to make coverage more affordable.

    • Sanders differ in the aspect that they aspire to implement universal coverage for Americans.

  4. 4. Gun Control

    hands with writing our lives are in our hands

    Over the past decade, there have been a tragic amount of attacks with assault weapons in the United States. A poll taken in 2018 by the Harvard Institute of Politics found that 64% of 18 to 29-year-olds believe gun control laws in the United States should be more strict. There are misunderstandings and misconceptions among the public that certain political groups want to ban guns altogether, rather than just apply stricter rules and regulations. 

    • Biden and Sanders want to implement a universal background check and ban assault weapons

    • Sanders wants to buy back all assault weapons

    • Trump proposed a five-point plan to end gun violence but has done little to nothing to implement it

  5. 5. Economy

    person holding money

    According to Marketplace, "70% of American college students graduate with debt.” Right now, most college grads are not required to make their first payment towards their loans until they've been out of college for six months. But let’s face it, the workforce is a competitive place. Maybe you'll get a job that allows you to grow with the company over time, but it still might not be enough to start paying all of those new bills that we didn’t learn about in high school. These are a few of the candidates' plans for student debt and the cost of college tuition.

    • President Trump will decline to contest borrowers’ requests before judges to have their student loans canceled

    • Candidate Biden wants to expand dual-enrollment programs so that high school students can earn college credits and freeze student debt until income exceeds $25,000 a year

    • Candidate Sanders wants to cancel all existing student debt, expand Pell Grants to cover living expenses for low-income students, cap student loan interest rates, triple-fund the Federal Work-Study Program, provide more funding for historically black colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions, fund programs through taxes on Wall Street, and eliminate tuition and fees at four-year public colleges and universities, tribal colleges, community colleges, trade schools and apprenticeship programs

There's a stigma about young voters, especially those in college. Those of us who have the ability to vote have a civic duty to enact change for the concerns that matter most to us. Once we become more informed about politics and more knowledgeable in areas that we find are most important to us, it will become immensely easier to make decisions and form our own opinions.