Return to the Latest

2016 MILLENNIAL MEMO (October 14, 2015): Keeping tabs on higher education debates

2016 MILLENNIAL MEMO (October 14, 2015)

390 days to go…

Las Vegas sure knows how to put on show — and higher education issues were a main act last night. Of course, Dems weren’t the only ones getting in on the higher education action as you’ll see below. Share this post-debate wrap up edition of Millennial Memo, and sign up for updates here.

Also, congrats to the CFPB’s former student loan ombudsman, Rohit Chopra, on winning yesterday’s student debt mentions prediction. While the candidates referenced college costs and mounting debt roughly a dozen times, the exact phrase “student debt” was repeated twice throughout the debate.

MILLENNIALS CENTER STAGE AT VEGAS DEBATE: All three video questions at last night’s debate were asked by young people, and as CNN contributor Van Jones noted in a post-debate discussion on-air, the issues candidates addressed are issues being championed by Millennial activists.

BERNIE KNOCKS HILLARY’S HIGHER ED PLAN FOR BEING “COMPLICATED”: Sanders said: “I think we don’t need a complicated system, which the secretary is talking about, the income goes down, the income goes down, if you’re poor you have to work, and so forth and so on. I pay for my program, by the way, through a tax on Wall Street speculation, which will not only make public colleges and universities tuition-free, it will substantially lower interest rates on college debt, a major crisis in this country.” (CNN, 10/13/2015)

SANDERS SAYS WE NEED TUITION-FREE COLLEGE TO MEET DEMANDS OF MODERN WORKFORCE: “Let me tell you, Donald Trump and his billionaire friends under my policies are going to pay a hell of a lot more in taxes today – taxes in the future than they’re paying today… But in terms of education, this is what I think. This is the year 2015. A college degree today, Dana, is the equivalent of what a high school degree was 50 years ago. 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.” (CNN, 10/13/2015)

CLINTON RESPONDS BY SAYING HER OWN PLAN WOULD MAKE TUITION FREE FOR STUDENTS WILLING TO WORK 10 HOURS A WEEK: “Well, let me address college affordability, because I have a plan that I think will really zero in on what the problems are. First, 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. As a young student in Nevada said to me, the hardest thing about going to college should not be paying for it. So then we have to make it more affordable. How do we make it more affordable? My plan would enable anyone to go to a public college or university tuition free. You would not have to borrow money for tuition. But I do believe – and maybe it’s because I worked when I went through college; I worked when I went through law school – I think it’s important for everybody to have some part of getting this accomplished. That’s why I call it a compact… I would like students to work 10 hours a week.” (CNN, 10/13/2015)

DEMS FOCUS DEBATE MESSAGING ON POPULAR STUDENT LOAN REFINANCING POLICY: Don’t be surprised both Clinton and Sanders were sure to plug that their plans would allow borrowers to refinance their loans to lower rates. Recent polling by NBC News/Wall Street Journal found that “providing access to lower cost student loans and providing more time to [borrowers] who are paying off their student loan debt” as the single most popular policy (82 percent of Americans support) proposal the news outlets tested.

BASH ICES OUT O’MALLEY, WEBB, AND CHAFEE ON COLLEGE AFFORDABILITY QUESTION: Eager to flesh out the policy differences between Clinton and Sanders, co-moderator Dana Bash failed to give O’Malley, Webb, and Chafee an opportunity to discuss their plans to combat rising college costs and student debt following an exchange between Clinton and Sanders about the differences in their higher education plans. However, O’Malley did get in a few mentions of the importance his campaign is placing on the issue. (CNN, 10/13/2015)

CLINTON WOULD LEAVE STATES TO DETERMINE ACCESS TO IN-STATE TUITION FOR UNDOCUMENTED STUDENTS: Clinton said she “would support any state that [provides access to in-state tuition for its undocumented students],, and would work with those states and encourage more states to do the same thing.” Pressed again by Anderson Cooper on whether she supports expanding access to in-state tuition to undocumented students, Clinton said, “If their states agree, then we want more states to do the same thing.” (CNN, 10/13/2015)

O’MALLEY TOUTS PASSAGE OF MARYLAND DREAM ACT: Responding to the Q&A over in-state tuition with Clinton, O’Malley said: “We actually did this in my state of Maryland. We passed a state version of the DREAM Act… And a lot of the xenophobes, the immigrant haters like some that we’ve heard like, Donald Trump, that carnival barker in the Republican party.. Tried to mischaracterize it as free tuition for illegal immigrants. But, we took our case to the people when it was petitioned to referendum, and we won with 58 percent of the vote. The more our children learn, the more they will earn, and that’s true of children who have yet to be naturalized… but will become American citizens.” (CNN, 10/13/2015)


HS SENIOR LAMENTS JEB’S FAILURE TO ADDRESS STUDENT DEBT AT NEW HAMPSHIRE TOWN HALL: “Nick Haidari, a Lebanon High senior who plans to cast his first ballot in the 2016 primary, also said Bush had exceeded his expectations. ‘I think he’s more willing to build and grow the country than other Republicans are,’ he said, but added, ‘(My friends and I) were kind of hoping that he would speak more about education today.’ Though Bush earlier Tuesday night described his plans to encourage science and technology education, ‘as far as actual 1.2 trillion dollar debt that kids have in college and after college, he didn’t really speak to that, which we were looking forward to,’ Haidari said.” (Valley News, 10/14/2015)

BUT BUSH ENCOURAGED COLLEGE FOOTBALL TAILGATERS THAT CARE ABOUT STUDENT DEBT TO JOIN HIS CAMPAIGN: “Republican presidential candidate and former Florida governor Jeb Bush visited the University of Tennessee Saturday afternoon. He spoke for about two minutes at a Jeb Bush Tailgate, hosted by the UT College Republicans… Bush said to the crowd, ‘if you want incomes to rise so that the next generation can get jobs, get the first rung of the ladder; if you want to reform the student debt problems that put huge lids on people’s aspirations.., I hope you’ll get involved in my campaign… ‘I’ll be back here campaigning’ Bush said, ‘because we have to win the votes for people – young people.’” (WBIR, 10/11/2015)

BUSH CALLS FOR “MARKET-ORIENTED” APPROACH TO BOOSTING DEGREE ATTAINMENT AND INSTITUTIONAL ACCOUNTABILITY: Discussing his plans for higher education and student loans with the Skimm, Bush said: “We’ve allowed universities to finance their big, deep, broad agendas without any accountability, on the backs of students. And outside the elite schools, 60% of full time equivalent students in public universities graduate with a four year degree in six years. Most of them have student debt….So I think we need to go in a completely different approach….it will be a market-oriented approach to align what we want: more accountability for higher education, lower costs….degree completion rates need to increase. We were number one in the world since WWII all the way to the 1990s, and now we’re 13th or 14th. So [we need] to improve degrees being completed in four years, making them more relevant.”

KASICH HIGHER ED PLAN ON THE HORIZON?: “As the presidential race progresses, Kasich’s campaign is also shifting course, with a bigger emphasis on concrete policy ideas… Kasich launched his campaign with a heavy town-hall meeting schedule, in which he prioritized general principles over specific policies. He often said ‘I don’t know’ when asked how he’d specifically address an issue such as student debt or campaign finance laws. Last week, Kasich started rolling out more detailed policies, starting with a call for a no-fly zone in Syria.” (Cincinnati Enquirer, 10/8/2015)

CARSON TELLS COLLEGE NEWSPAPER THAT SCHOOLS SHOULD BE ON THE HOOK FOR STUDENT LOAN INTEREST: “Since he will be in Texas A&M’s backyard in Bryan in a little more than a week, he discussed the country’s steadily increasing tuition costs. His suggestion was to make public universities bear some of the student loan debt themselves, in contrast to Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ plan to tax Wall Street speculation to make public higher education tuition-free. ‘The answer is not to create more debt or create income redistribution,’ Carson said. ‘We should ask why college tuition is advancing so rapidly and get to the root of the problem.’ He said holding universities accountable for the interest on student loans and only making students responsible for the principal of the loan, would effectively force universities to find a way to rein in the cost of a degree.” (The Eagle, 10/11/2015)

BUT THE PUBLIC IS STILL AWAITING DETAILS FROM CARSON ON CAMPAIGN’S PLAN: This past July, Dr. Carson told Millennial Memo that he would be putting his plan to force schools to bare full responsibility for student loan interest on his website, however a recent scan of the education page of Dr. Carson’s campaign website finds nothing higher education-related.