College students deep in the red: What it means for the 2016 presidential race


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.

New Hampshire student, educator, and activist Alexis Ploss

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.

Reader Comments

  1. Depending on where you look, anywhere from 20-35% of students entering college these days need remediation in math and reading skills. So, if we let everyone into college, what happens to that number?

    So called ‘free’ college (I mean tax payer funded college) might be offered with discounted rates with the stipulation there is no remediation, no useless majors like art appreciation, and for those who fail or do not complete, they must reimburse the government (tax payers) for costs incurred.

    If any single mothers enroll, they must identify the fathers and the government will track them down and hold them accountable for supporting the child(ren) they helped to conceive. Or send them to jail, working at menial jobs to pay.

    When things are ‘free’ few recipients have appreciation for the handout therefore put limited effort into the enterprise. Look at the slums created with section 8 housing as an example.

    There is no such thing as free. Only in the demented, warped imagination of socialists.

  2. I earned my BA from UCLA in 1967 without paying a penny of tuition. In those days, no California resident paid tuition in any state-run college or university, from community colleges to the UC’s. You paid a flat incidental feel, and that was it.*

    If I had my way, we’d go back to that system of higher education.We’d also declare a Jubilee for all students burdened with college debt. If it was good enough for the people it the Bible, it should be good enough for the 21st century USA.

    Don’t tell me we can’t afford it. Look at the money Martin Shkerli is raking in. Look at all the money Wall Street Banksters pocket. None of these guys generate any high-paying jobs from their fun and games.

    My advice t millenials. Organize. Demand. And, most important. VOTE. Vote in every election even if you have to choose the lesser of two evils.- No excuses.

    Demonstrations and rallies are nice. I certainly have participated n more than my share. But they are no substitute for voting.

    *PS. For all the naysayers. A college education at a UC back in my day and age was not necessarily free. You still had to buy books. You still had to pay for a room in the dorm. So you still had to work your way through college. But amount of money you need was at least manageable.

  3. In this day in age, college should not be a luxury only available to those with a lot of money. The first two years of college should be free to anyone who wants to further their education, whether it is to prepare for a career such as an auto mechanic or secretary or prepare to go on for a BA.

  4. Can someone with more than a double digit IQ explain to me why someone who willingly takes on a loan debt thinks the government (spelled taxpayers)should relieve the loan? Mature, responsible people take responsibility for their actions.

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