Odds-On Candidates?

Trump and Clinton have interesting things to say when it comes down to higher education.

As election season continues, it seems much more likely that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will be their respective parties’ nominees for President of the United States. While the two have spoken about their proposals concerning everything from healthcare to combatting ISIS, it is perhaps most relevant for college students to understand their education platforms. Of particular interest, is how the two view the student debt crisis, making college affordable, and campus sexual assault.

According to the U.S. Treasury Department, there is a total of $1.2 trillion in student debt in the United States, divided amongst some 40 million people. These staggering numbers, as well as the rising cost of college, have made college affordability and student debt a major issue in politics.

Clinton has made making college more affordable a big focus of her campaign, claiming that she will work so that no college student has to borrow money to pay for tuition, books or other school expenses. Her plan to see this through is being called the “New College Compact.” She has also stated that colleges need to be held accountable for the rising costs of tuition, instead of gouging students for more money.

While ambitious, her plan has been called impractical by critics, who are quick to point out that the plan would cost $350 billion dollars over the next ten years and rely far too heavily on a partnership between the states and federal government.

“We need to make a quality education affordable and available to everyone willing to work for it without saddling them with decades of debt,” stated Clinton.

Donald Trump has also spoken numerous times about college affordability. While his campaign website doesn’t list anything regarding college, or education in general, in its issues section, Trump has stated that education is vital.

“I’m a tremendous believer in education, but education has to be at a local level,” stated Trump in a campaign ad. “We cannot have the bureaucrats in Washington telling you how to manage your child’s education.”

Yet despite this claim from Trump that Washington has no place in a child’s education, he seems to think differently when it comes to colleges and universities. When asked about the skyrocketing cost of a college education at a community college in Iowa, Trump responded by saying, “Well the only way you can do it, is you have to start some governmental program.” Trump then went on to state that he supported allowing people to refinance their student loans or allow for them to defer their payments while looking for a job. This a stark difference from other Republican candidates, and actually a policy suggestion that both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, the other Democratic candidate, have suggested.

Trump has said on multiple occasions that America needs a revitalized economy so that students can find good-paying jobs with their degrees. Trump often uses this point to segue into commentary on bad trade deals, China, and how President Obama has run the country into the ground.

On college campuses themselves, campus sexual assault has been another major issue gaining headlines. There has been a divide between politicians, surprisingly not always along party lines, about whether on college campuses there exists such a thing as “rape culture” and “campus sexual assault epidemic.” Hillary Clinton has stated that too many people condemn sexual assault but take no efforts to stop it, and this has to change. She outlined a series of reforms that would provide more support to survivors, ensure a more fair system in campus disciplinary proceedings and increase sexual violence prevention education in schools. This is an issue that Clinton has been adamant about previously as a U.S. senator and First Lady.

Donald Trump has offered no solid plan or talk of reform regarding sexual assaults on campus. He has, however, stated his support for allowing people with concealed carry permits to carry their firearms everywhere, including on college campuses. This could be seen as his policy answer to making schools safer, by allowing people to protect themselves.

If Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are able to make it onto the ballots in November, it will be a very significant race for the lives of students and those on college campuses.

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