by Alexis Ploss, guest writer
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I am a future high school STEM teacher who has more than $50,000 in student debt.
With the Iowa Caucuses taking place today and the presidential election right around the corner, there is an issue we as voters must think about when it comes to making sure every child has a caring, qualified, and committed educator: relieving the massive burden of student debt for current students and recent graduates alike, especial those interested in going into public service, including public education.
Every day, I find myself worrying about the debt I’m accruing to complete my degrees and live out my dream of helping students attain their dreams. I worry about the impact that will have on my future. But most importantly, I worry how I will be able to encourage my future students to pursue a higher education, when I know all too well what that reality might hold for them.
I find myself thinking about the students who are like me: low-income, but with dreams to help the world. How can I advise those students to work hard and go to college, when that path will end up costing them and their families, on average, at least about $30,000 and, in some cases, like mine, significantly more? Keep in mind, $30,000 is more than many beginning teachers make in a year.
Throughout this primary season, we’ve heard proposals from leading candidates about ways we can begin to mend the system that is compounding the burdens of students, from community colleges to state universities. There is only one way that we can create change for current and future students, and that is to vote!
As a millennial, I am counting on my peers in Iowa, New Hampshire, as well as all the other early primary states to get out and participate, get out and vote. We must make our voices heard so that we can return hope to all those college students who, like me, have big dreams and aspirations to serve their communities and shape the future of this nation by making sure all students have access to a quality public education. Your participation in the early primaries will let the nation know that making college affordable for all who want to attend, especially those interested in public service and serving our children, is a top priority in 2016.
TAKE ACTION: Student loan debt is erupting—more than 70 percent of America’s students borrow money to attend college, and total student loan debt currently stands at a staggering $1.2 trillion, surpassing total credit card debt. Are you one of the 40 million Americans affected by student debt? Whether you’re a student, a parent or an educator, please share your story.
DID YOU KNOW?: Borrowers, like educators, may qualify for public service loan forgiveness after making 120 on-time, full, separate monthly payments toward a federal Direct Loan while working full-time in public service. Click here to find out more.
CHECK IT OUT: Recently, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren praised Alexis Ploss on the Senate floor for her work related to making higher education more affordable for all. Watch the video below.