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2016 MILLENNIAL MEMO (May 25, 2016): Keeping tabs on higher education debates

2016 MILLENNIAL MEMO (May 25, 2016)

Good Wednesday morning, everyone. With a recent poll showing Libertarian party candidate, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson (R-NM), surging into double digits in a Clinton versus Trump matchup — meaning we may see him on the debate stage this fall, here’s a look at where the candidate has stood on higher education issues in the past. With the poll finding nearly 1 in 5 young voters saying they would vote for Governor Johnson, will they appreciate his views on student debt? We’ll see.

We’re 53 days away from the RNC, 60 days away from the DNC, and 166 days away from Election Day. Share this week’s roundup with your friends and colleagues, and sign up for updates here.

IN 2012, JOHNSON SAID “MY PLANS DON’T INCLUDE DOING ANYTHING WHEN IT COMES TO STUDENT LOANS”: In a virtual Q&A chat with a young person during his 2012 campaign, former New Mexico Governor and Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson said, “my plans don’t include doing anything when it comes to student loans.” Governor Johnson then goes on to blame high tuition prices because the government guarantees student loans. Watch the full clip here.

ELIMINATING THE DEPT OF EDUCATION IS THE BEST THING THE FEDERAL GOVT CAN DO TO IMPROVE EDUCATION, SAYS JOHNSON: Speaking at a UCDC town hall during his 2012 campaign, Governor Johnson posited: “What is the best thing the federal government could do when it comes to education in this country? I think it’s to abolish the federal Department of Education.” Johnson goes on to acknowledge and accept that some states would perform miserably if the Department were eliminated. Watch the full clip here.

TRUMP SAYS HE GETS MORE QUESTIONS ABOUT STUDENT DEBT THAN ANY OTHER ISSUE: In a recent town hall with Hardball host Chris Matthews, Donald Trump said that he gets more questions about student debt than any other issue. Trump goes on to promise borrowers that he will offer extensions and lower interest rates. Catch the full video here.

NEW BLOG FROM THE CLINTON CAMPAIGN SEEKS TO SHOW BORROWER SAVINGS UNDER HER PLAN: The blog reads: “The graduating class of 2016 is slated to be the most indebted in U.S. history—and loan balances are disproportionately high for low-income students, including students of color. So how does student debt really affect your bottom line in the long run? It’s more than you might expect. The average undergraduate in the class of 2014 who took out loans borrowed just over $28,950. Paid back over 20 years at the unsubsidized federal loan rate, he or she would owe $186.00 per month. Those payments—every month for two decades—really add up. For instance: If you put that money in a savings account, you’d have more than $11,000 saved in just five years. If you invested that money in a mutual fund for 10 years, you could bank more than $27,000. And if you put all of those monthly payments in a 401(k), you could have $86,000 put aside for retirement in 20 years.” But not everyone was a fan of the Clinton campaign’s math. Brookings’ Beth Akers released her own blog, responding to the campaign’s original post (that has since been taken down), which makes the case that not all student debt is bad debt.

FORMER FDIC CHAIR & NOW COLLEGE PRESIDENT, SHEILA BAIR, ON TRUMP HIGHER ED PLAN: “Trump’s education advisor [suggested] that federal aid should be restricted for any student pursuing an ‘esoteric’ liberal arts degree… 45% of degrees offered by [the Bair-led] Washington College last year were in business, the STEM disciplines, and economics – which by the way, IS a liberal art and also Trump’s chosen major in college. Yes, we also have English, Philosophy and (gasp) fine arts majors, yet they find good jobs in finance, technology or go on to graduate or professional schools… Trump’s advisor sets forth many good ideas for student aid reform, including radical simplification of the application process and “skin in the game” requirements for colleges. He is right that colleges should bear some of the losses if their student loans default. But if student defaults are his concern, why pick on liberal arts colleges? Private non-profit colleges have the lowest default rates – 7%, compared to 9% for public four-year colleges, 18% for for-profit schools, and 23% for public two-year institutions… But most problematic is that his idea will effectively relegate access to liberal arts degrees to the wealthy elite… Without access to federal aid, low-income students will have to forgo pursuing a liberal arts degree.” (Fortune, May 17, 2016)


NEW HAMPSHIRE–AYOTTE CAMPAIGN INTERN PRAISES THE SENATOR IN AN LTE ON HER PRIVATE REFI BILL: In this past Sunday’s Concord Monitor, NH college student and Ayotte campaign intern, Ryan Smith of Northfield, wrote: “College. It’s expensive, and as a college student one thing I do not have is money. A life of Ramen and Mountain Dew is not the healthiest lifestyle, but it’s what fits the budget. I realize that college should not be a free ride, but it’s a little overwhelming to be in so much debt before the first job. That stress is present even in the best colleges in the country. That’s why I was grateful to learn that our senator, Kelly Ayotte, was working on ways to help students like me better afford higher education. She has put forth legislation that would help lower the interest rates on the loans I have and make it easier to repay my loans once I am done with school. With a few more dollars in my pocket and ditching the debt burden sooner, I can start saving for a more successful future. That’s thanks in large part to the work Sen. Ayotte is doing in the Senate.”

NEW HAMPSHIRE–AYOTTE SIGNS ON TO COONS-KING-PORTMAN BILL TO FORGIVE TAX ON STUDENT LOANS FORGIVEN DUE TO DEATH OR DISABILITY: Last month, Senator Ayotte signed on as a co-sponsor of S.2800, the Stop Taxing Death & Disability Act. With Ayotte putting veterans issues front and center in her campaign and NH having the highest student debt per graduate of any state in the country, watch for this bill to remain in the spotlight this cycle.

NEW HAMPSHIRE–HASSAN CAMPAIGN & SURROGATES TOUT HER SIGNING OF A BILL TO EXTEND IN-STATE TUITION RATES TO VETS: A coordinated push by the Hassan campaign and its surrogates to layout the Governor’s record on veterans issues is focusing in on Governor Hassan signing a bill enabling veterans to take advantage of in-state tuition rates at New Hampshire public colleges and universities.

MISSOURI–KANDER CITES SUPPORT OF “BAN THE BOX” LEGISLATION AND INCREASING ACCESS TO HIGHER ED AS WAYS TO REDUCE RACIAL INEQUALITY: In a candidate questionnaire from the 15th Ward Democrats, Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander said this when asked about how he would improve racial equity: “Eliminating the school-to-prison pipeline should be a top priority in Congress, and I will work to improve education in underfunded school districts to empower young people and improve access to higher education. To decrease recidivism, Congress should support federal legislation in line with ‘Ban the Box’ proposals to increase opportunities for individuals who have been incarcerated. I am proud that I have ‘Banned the Box’ in the Secretary of State’s office.”

PENNSYLVANIA–McGINTY PRESS RELEASE BLAMES STUDENT DEBT ON TOOMEY’S PELL & REFI VOTES: In a new press release out from the McGinty Campaign says: “at a time when college tuition costs are skyrocketing and Pennsylvania students are graduating with the third highest average student debt in the country, Pat Toomey… voted in support of a budget that included the largest reduction in Pell Grants in history and opposed a bill that would have permitted students to refinance student loans.”

WISCONSIN–FEINGOLD NAMES COST OF HIGHER ED & PRESCRIPTION DRUGS TOP TWO ISSUES HE HEARS ABOUT ON THE TRAIL: Speaking on WXPR radio, Feingold said, “I would say of all the things I hear in terms of anxiety around the state, the cost of higher education and the cost of prescription drugs upsets people in all 72 counties.”


CA-24–CARBAJAL SAYS HE WOULD “FORCE THE BANKS TO REFINANCE STUDENT LOANS”: In a new ad called “Standing Up” from DCCC-backed Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal, Carbajal casts the banks as the foil to the United States’ student loan problem. In the ad, a narrator says: “young people are getting crushed by student loan debt while Wall Street banks charge high interest rates. Carbajal says it’s time to force the banks to refinance student loans, saving students and their families thousands — money that should be helping young people start their lives, not line Wall Street’s pockets.”

IA-03–DEM CANDIDATES WEIGH IN ON COLLEGE COSTS & STUDENT DEBT: The Des Moines Register’s Kathie Obradovich rapid fire tweeted a recent exchange among the Democratic candidates from Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District on how they would address higher education issues. This is what you need to know:
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