Columns, Opinion

OPPOSING VIEWPOINTS: BU College Democrats on student loan debt

In efforts to gain perspectives from students of Democratic and Republican political affiliations, The Daily Free Press asked BU College Democrats and BU College Republicans to answer the following question: how should the government address the student loan crisis?

It’s senior year, and I’m graduating in six months with a good amount of student loans. I should be worried about getting a job after college and even more worried about paying back my debt.

But I’m not, because of President Barack Obama.

Obama has made it a priority throughout his administration to help college graduates pay for their student loan debt after they graduate, and he’ll continue to do so if he’s elected for a second term.

The proof is in his track record.

In 2009 and 2010, Obama proposed legislation that would double funding for Pell grants. In March of 2010, Congress passed the bill, despite opposition from Republicans who saw the policy as a government takeover.

With the passage of this bill, funding for Pell grants increased from around $19 billion to a suggested $36 billion this upcoming year, according to the Department of Education. About 10 million students are expected to receive Pell Grants in 2013, and close to 3,000 of those students go to Boston University.

On a personal note, I depend on the Pell grant to pay for my education. During my senior year of high school, the numbers were being crunched so hard that I would have had to take out a bank loan if I didn’t get money from the Pell Grant to attend BU. Thus, I wouldn’t be writing this piece if it weren’t for the Pell grant.

Time to throw some more numbers at you.

Under the president’s administration, federal student loan repayment was capped at 10 percent per year. This means that the government can’t take more than 10 percent of what you as a college graduate earn as annual discretionary income. It’s called income-based repayment, and it also includes loan forgiveness after 20 years.

This is a big step, considering it will help 1.6 million young people this year alone.

Obama allowed the student loans of teachers, nurses and servicemen and women to be forgiven after 10 years if they made their monthly payments on time.

Let’s not forget about health insurance — a major financial issue for many young Americans who just recently graduated. Under the president, millions of young people can now stay on their parents’ health insurance until age 26 — another big deal considering young people are one of the most uninsured demographics in America.

And that’s just what Obama has done. I haven’t even mentioned all the stuff he’s going to do.

The president isn’t perfect.

His original proposal didn’t take inflation into account. This time around, Obama’s income-based repayment policy will keep up with inflation.

These changes were originally set to start in 2014, but the president cares so much about young people that he’s fast-tracked the timeline to be available as soon as this year. The best part is that this option will still be available to students even if Obama isn’t elected, unless Mitt Romney decides to follow through with his running mate’s plan to cut nearly 20 percent of the education budget.

There goes being able to pay back your loans on time.

If elected, Romney’s plan will educate recent grads on the obligations of applying for a federal student loan, although he doesn’t mention how the plan will provide support to graduates so they don’t miss payments.

The take-away of all this is that young people have a lot to lose in this election. Recent college graduates will be the ones bearing the burden of bad Republican policy.

But, it isn’t enough to be informed. We need to stand up for ourselves and refuse to have loan repayment options taken away from us. We need to vote for Barack Obama on Tuesday.

Nobody should go broke paying for an education.


Emily O’Donnell

Boston University College Democrats

Communications Director

COM 2013

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