The Other Financial Crisis

Center of Concern | Mon, Nov 3, 2008

By Abiosseh Davis
Student Loans!  This is the topic I've been waiting to have addressed in the debates surrounding this year's elections. 
Student Loans!  This is the topic I've been waiting to have addressed in the debates surrounding this year's elections.  However, it has been minimally discussed and candidate positions and proposals are weak and unsatisfying to say the least.   An article on the matter appeared in this Friday's New York Times entitled "Candidate's Position on Student Loans Reflect Experience and Market Views."

The article briefly articulated both candidates' proposals to address concerns over the cost of education.   Obama's plan offers a $4000 tax credit to households paying tuition and increases Pell Grant funds, measures the article claims benefit mostly the middles class.  McCain's plan is to leverage federal funding to institutions of higher learning in order to convince them to lower tuition and to provide for additional Pell Grant funding.  As the article suggested, it appears to me that neither of these proposals would address my student loan concern, nor those of students in, entering, or planning to attend college or university.

My real concern is being able to meet my obligations for the next 35 years.  Approximately half of my monthly income goes toward student loans and I'm often left wondering whether or not I will be able to continue pursuing a career in service to others.  Yet my situation is not unique; there are countless articles on those with lucrative careers feeling the constraints of being unable to meet their student loan payments, support families, and afford homes.  Neither of these candidates' proposals  will benefit those like myself,  young professionals overburdened by debt we acquired investing in something we thought would expand career and financial security options.

However, as articulated by Obama's domestic policy director in the New York Times article, the most important concerns are "opportunity and fairness."  Should many of our young citizens be denied the opportunities of tomorrow because of their families' financial constraints today?  Should pursuing an education close doors rather than create opportunities?  Should career options, the freedom to work in service to others, and the opportunity to live a fulfilling life with financial stability be restricted to the wealthy? Should middle class and poorer families be left to choose between providing an education for their children or providing for the family's basic needs, particularly in times of crisis?

Education used to be viewed as one of the great equalizers in our diverse society.  These days, however, it seems to be a method of perpetuating class divisions.  Even as we discuss the ability of American workers to compete in the global market, this ability is restricted by the cost of and access to education.  This system is another system that must be revisited and changed to reflect a true investment in the American people.

Even though I am satisfied with neither policy recommendation, now that I am a bit more familiar with the candidates' positions on an issue I care about, I can go to the polls and cast my ballot for the candidate I feel has the better policy to address my concern.  I urge you all to research your topics of interest and cast your vote on November 4th.