BUSH V. KERRY: On Higher Education

Kerry’s Platform
By Maya Debbaneh

Kerry believes all that Americans should have the opportunity to get a college education, despite economic or social status.
In order to treat the problem of rising tuition, Kerry and Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards have proposed several new policies designed to encourage education and help students pay for college.
One policy which aims to provide a financial tool for college students is a College Opportunity tax credit, up to $4,000 of tuition for each year of college, meaning that some portion of college tuition would become tax deductible. Also, Kerry will provide aid to states that effectively keep their tuition down.
Moreover, to encourage college students to help improve children’s education through community service, Kerry proposes to compensate students who are involved part-time with nonprofit organizations and campus service organizations up to $2,000 per year.
Another Kerry policy would aid those who work for two years in certain jobs, such as teachers, tutors, mentors, or police officers, by paying for four years of tuition at a public university.
Kerry also has called for reforms of the current student loan market. With the way that student loan programs are set up now, banks are essentially guaranteed billions of dollars in profits due to government subsidies.
In addition, banks are able to receive government subsidies through legal loopholes in the Higher Education Act, resulting in a 9.5 percent interest rate on student loans. In fact, it has been researched that the artificially set rates are much higher than banks need in order to make profits on student loans.
Kerry plans to get rid of guaranteed student loans and subsidies, saving taxpayers about $14 billion. Instead of the current system of student loans, Kerry and Edwards want to allow market forces to dictate interest rates providing for lower costs for students.
To ease the burden of paying for higher education, Kerry has planned for policies which both decrease useless spending and aid students efficiently by providing incentives for giving back to the community.

Maya Debbaneh is a third-year political science major.

Bush’s Platform
By Aubrey Manahl

If elected for a second term, President George W. Bush will implement a plan devised to reform the higher education system that currently exists, helping ease the effects of rising tuition prices.
An increase in student financial aid to $73 billion, a 55 percent increase from 2001, will enable more than 10.3 million students to afford college. The plan will further provide a $12.9 billion investment in Pell Grants to aid another one million college-bound students.
With the $12.9 billion investment in Pell Grants, Bush will provide those students who come from low-income families and who opt to take the required high school curriculum, as determined by the State Scholars program, with up to $1,000, bringing the total maximum award to $5,050.
Bush will further allot a 75,000-member increase for Americorps. The full-time members will be awarded $4,725 to go towards their college or graduate school payments.
There will be a $375 increase in loan limits for first-year students, bringing the total to $3,000, and more flexible loan disbursements will be provided to low-default schools.
Community colleges will be given $125 million in grants as a motivation to offer dual enrollment programs. This will allow high school students the opportunity to earn college credit and in doing so, the opportunity to graduate in less time.
Furthermore, incentives will be created for states to lessen the difficulty students have in transferring credits earned at a community college to a four-year institution.
Students attending school part time will no longer be restricted from receiving federal aid. Student loans will be provided to those working on a short-term program. An additional $84 million for year-round Pell Grants will become an option for those who graduate early.
As of now, students are only provided with the option of receiving one Pell Grant during a traditional school year.
President Bush believes that education is critical to American society. He has confirmed that he will provide the system with what is needed.

Aubrey Manahl is a second-year literary journalism major.