On September 29, the country got to see the Presidential candidates debate one another, face-to-face, for the first time. The debate in Cleveland covered many issues, including the country’s response to Coronavirus, the economy and climate change.
Though the candidates did not answer any questions pertaining to higher education, voters do not have to feel left in the dark on that issue. Both candidates have outlined their proposals toward improving higher education, and we may hear more on this topic when, and if, there are upcoming debates.
Looking for more COVID-19 student-impact information? Find it here.
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For now, each candidate has posted their platform for higher education on their respective campaign websites.
President Donald Trump
According to President Trump’s site, he has achieved the following during his Presidency:
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• Removed limitations of Pell Grant disbursement from just fall and spring semesters to year-round, giving low-income students the ability to use the funds over summer and winter breaks in order to accelerate their learning.
• Reformed student loan servicing centers, lowering costs and enhancing customer service.
• Made changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA
) in order to improve accessibility to students.
• Modernized Federal Student Aid (FSA) offers and student loan services with the help of financial experts.
As the current President, Trump has also had to implement higher education and student borrowing and repayment policies in light of the Coronavirus pandemic. To date, President Trump has ordered the FSA to suspend loan payments, stop collections on defaulted loans, and set interest rates to 0%. He has extended this order to December 31, 2020.
More details on Trump’s record as President can be found here
Former Vice President Joe Biden
Former Vice President Joe Biden wants to make college more affordable, and his plan for doing so is three-fold:
• Invest in community colleges with new grants that will help improve student success rates as well as making community college a debt-free higher education experience.
• Make public, four-year colleges tuition-free for all families making less than $125,000 and cut federal student loan payments in half under a more generous income-based repayment plan.
• Support Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) with greater funding, making them more affordable to students.
The Biden Plan for Higher Education provides more extensive details on the breakdown of each of these points. You can view it here
Student Opinion on the 2020 Presidential Election
A market research firm, College Pulse
, launched a survey
to explore how students are feeling about the upcoming election and which issues concern them most. The results were surprising.
You would think that issues on higher education would weigh heavily on college students. Instead, they’re worried about the same things their parents are worried about, most likely. The survey found that the most important issues to students were:
• Coronavirus – 33%
• Race relations – 22%
• Climate change – 12%
• Inequality – 7%
• Economy – 7%
• White House leadership – 6%
• Healthcare – 5%
• Education – 2%
Also, according to the survey
, only 18% of student voters plan to vote for Trump, while 70% will be voting for Biden. However, the survey noticed that there was very low excitement for either candidate.
At the same time, students are worried about the validity of the Election results. About 55% believe the Election will not be administered well, 48% are concerned about foreign interference, and 46% will doubt the outcome of the Election if the winner loses the popular vote.
Despite low enthusiasm and the various crises impacting the country, 71% of college students plan to vote this year – in person, through early voting, or by mail-in ballots.
How Can I Cast My Vote on Election Day 2020?
There are a variety of ways to vote this year, just like every year. However, given the global pandemic, students may not want to choose traditional, in-person voting. At the same time, many college students are sequestered to their respective campuses and can’t vote in person in their hometown.
With that, students should consider other options, like early voting or mail-in voting. If you are able to leave campus for fall break or for a weekend at home, consider voting early in your town or precinct’s designated early voting poll. You can find your early voting location here
Another option that students can exercise at this time is a mail-in ballot. Each state has different dates when the ballot must be mailed in by – or postmarked by – so you must remember to follow your state’s specific guideline. Many mail-in ballots are approaching in October. If you want to make your vote count, time is of the essence. Get a mail-in ballot here
To make sure you’re registered to vote on Election Day, check out our Guide to Voting as a Student in 2020.