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Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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Candidates spar on higher education

Contenders roll out plans to improve college system

As college students vote in state primaries, the Democratic presidential candidates are trying to connect with young voters, focusing on positive messages and an issue that speaks to a student's pocketbook: the cost of higher education.

Each candidate is offering his own unique solution for addressing the rising costs of going to college, which the College Board estimated increased 14 percent at public colleges this year. Last year, AU's tuition increased about 6 percent.

North Carolina Sen. John Edwards is proposing a plan that would pay one year's tuition at a public college for students who work 10 hours of communty service each week, according to his campaign Web site.

To help offset the program's estimated $5 billion cost, Edwards would use direct student loans from the government, instead of subsidizing banks that offer private student loans.

"John Edwards was the first to go to college in his family," said Brandy Dillingham, an AU supporter of the Edwards campaign. "He had to work during college so he knows what it is like - he understands the struggles that college students go through.

Edwards has also promised to end the practice of "legacy" admissions, which gives students whose parents attended the colleges they apply to a preference in admission.

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean has proposed one of the more complicated plans for higher education.

"Kids in middle school and high school are losing hope," Dean said in a November speech at Dartmouth College. "They stop working toward graduation because they assume they'll never be able to go to college. We can do better than that."

He plans to loan $10,000 each year to 8th-grade students who pledge to go to college. Over 10 years, graduates would not have to spend more than 10 percent of their incomes repaying the loan, or 7 percent if they seek careers in public service.

Dean estimates the cost of this plan at $6 billion. He plans to fund the program by repealing President Bush's 2001 tax cuts.

Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry plans to increase the Federal Pell Grant system that helps send poor and minority students to college, according to Ellie Clark of AU Students for Kerry.

Kerry has proposed a tax credit to help families pay for their children's tuition, and the Service for College plan, which will pay for four years of state public college tuition to students who give two years of public service, Clark said.

Clark said the Kerry campaign's message to college students is focusing on his promise to "fight ... for Americans that the Bush administration has ignored in favor of a reactionary agenda."

Kerry also wants to give $50 billion to public colleges to keep tuition prices from going up, according to The Washington Post.

Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman supports raising the Federal Pell Grants from the current maximum of $4,050 to $6,150 in 2004 and $7,760 in 2008, according his campaign Web site. Lieberman has called the fact that 48 percent of children from high-income families graduate from college by the age of 24, while the number is only 7 percent for those from low-income families, "an unacceptable gap."

He also plans to give money to public colleges that increase their numbers of low-income and minority students, according to The Post.

Retired Gen. Wesley Clark has set a goal of having "one million additional people attending college and other higher education by 2008."

He is targeting his proposals to low-income families, while also proposing to give $20 billion directly to state and local governments to curb tuition costs, according to an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Under his plan, as detailed on Clark's campaign Web site, all students from families with incomes under $100,000 would receive $6,000 grants for their first two years of college.

Clark would also extend the Saver's Credit to education IRAs, giving greater incentives for low-income families to save for college.

Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich advocates repealing Bush's tax cuts to pay for the tuition of the country's 12 million public college students, according to his campaign Web sites. This plan would cost an estimated $48 billion per year.

At a meeting in New Hampshire, Kucinich said that the government should pay for college just as it pays for elementary and secondary education.

"College is necessary to success in the modern world," he said.

The Rev. Al Sharpton has not commented on any specific policy toward meeting the cost of higher education. He would like to guarantee, through a constitutional amendment proposed by Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., the "right to a public education of equal high quality," according to Sharpton's campaign Web site.

Wesley Clark

  • Consolidate tax credits and grants to give every student from families with incomes of less than $100,000
  • A grant of $6,000 for first two years of college
  • Tax credits to low-income families for education IRAs
  • $20 billion to state and local governments to lower tuition costs

    Howard Dean

  • $10,000 annual loans to 8th-grade students who pledge to go to college
  • Loans would be repaid with no more than 10 percent of student's income after college
  • Paid for by repealing Bush tax cuts

    John Edwards

  • First year's tuition is paid for in exchange for 10 hours a week of community service
  • Cut banks out of the student loan process
  • End "legacy" admissions

    Joe Lieberman

  • Raise Pell grants from $4,050 to $6,150 in 2004 and $7760 in 2008
  • Funding to public colleges that increase their enrollment of low-income and minority students

    John Kerry

  • Four years of tuition in exchange for two years of public service
  • $50 billion to public universities
  • $4,000 tuition tax credit each year

    Dennis Kucinich

  • Free tuition for all four years of college for all students in public colleges; funded by cutting back Bush tax cuts

    Al Sharpton

  • No comment on any specific proposal

  • Section 202 host Gabrielle and friends go over some sports that aren’t in the sports media spotlight often, and review some sports based on their difficulty to play. 



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