In 2004 there were 23 million Americans with loans. Today there are over 43.3 million Americans. This is a colossal growth rate, so it makes sense why loans are such a huge deal in politics right now. America currently has over 1.2 trillion dollars of student debt. This is the highest it’s ever been and it is continuing to increase.
In politics, the debate of student loans and funding of higher education has been a hot topic lately. Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-proclaimed democratic socialist, kept it as a front issue in his presidential campaign, arguing that there should be free education for all Americans. This is the only candidate suggesting a free higher education platform, but many other congressmen are suggesting lowering interest rates to cut costs.
It cannot be argued that student loan interest rates are still quite high. Right now they’re declining, but ten years ago the interest rates were nearly 8%. This is something that some politicians would like to focus on.
In speeches, Hillary Clinton, a contender in the presidential election, said that she would like to lower interest rates on both current loans, but also allow past loans to refinance their debt. This would effect many, but it doesn’t help the people who need it most.
Basic math will show that decreasing interest rates will have the biggest payoff with bigger loans. If you have a $20,000 loan and the interest drops from 5% to 3%, that’s $400 to be saved. If you have this same decrease in interest rates for $10,000, only $200 is being saved.
This being said, that 2% cut would help out someone with over $100,000 or more in debt the most. Thinking about it, most of the people in that sort of debt are in professions such as doctors or lawyers. They make more money than someone with a $20,000 loan, yet they’re getting the most help out of everyone.
Many times, loans are defaulted, or left un-paid, when there is a minimal loan balance left. The majority of loans are defaulted when there is less than $10,000 left to pay off. Being defaulted means it destroys credit scores and the entire amount is suddenly due. It hurts chances of getting loans in the future and is a monetary fiasco.
This being said, it would be thought that if this is a problem area, this would be the place to fix it. That is being proven untrue, because, as math showed earlier, lowering the interest rate gives more leeway to higher loans, not these loans that are under $10k.
Refinancing loans seems great, but it’s hard to see why other approaches may be better to refinance loans. If Hillary Clinton applied this plan, it would cost around 350 billion dollars over a ten-year period. This is a lot of money, so it’s being debated if there is a better way to distribute the money that would help struggling borrowers the most.
Hillary isn’t the only one with a plan. Her conservative opponent, Donald Trump, is looking for the best way to decrease student debt also. He states, “[Education] is probably one of the only things the government shouldn’t make money off.”
Both conservative and liberal politicians agree that something needs to be done to reduce student debt, but the question is the method of fixing it. Many government officials are still debating the best way to approach this issue. It’s a noticeable problem, and the politician’s plans will effect a lot of voters. For example, a good plan to take care of student debt will bring in the voters that are effected by it. Those 43.3 million Americans are looking for ways to minimize their remaining debt, so the best approach to deal with student loans can sway voters to choose them.