UNIVERSITY WORLD NEW: A higher-ed guide to four presidential contenders

Career College Central Summary:

  • Hillary Clinton

    • College affordability: Before she became secretary of state, in 2009, Clinton spent eight years on the Senate education committee, focusing on non-traditional students and borrower rights. While few of her higher education bills cleared Congress, portions of her Borrower Bill of Rights made it into law, as did pieces of her Non-traditional Student Success Act.
    • During her first run for president, in 2008, Clinton pledged to increase the maximum Pell Grant, double the main education tax credit, and create new grants for colleges and job-training programmes. 
    • She called for a "cost calculator" similar to the one that the Education Department has since created, and promised more information about college costs and graduation rates. Her higher-ed platform for 2016 is likely to hit many of the same themes.
    • Last week, in a roundtable discussion at a campus of Kirkwood Community College in Iowa, Clinton endorsed President Barack Obama’s plan to make community college free and said college should be "affordable and open for everybody willing to work for it". 
    • She spoke about the value of income-based student-loan repayment – a priority of the Obama administration – and took aim at for-profit colleges that "take all this money and put all these young people and families into debt"…
  • Senator Marco Rubio

    • College affordability: Senator Rubio does not serve on the education committee, but he has led efforts to provide prospective students with more information about college costs and graduation outcomes, and to simplify student loan repayment.
    • He supports the creation of a “unit record data base” – a position that puts him in conflict with privacy-minded Republicans – and he has signed on to bipartisan legislation that would create online college-savings accounts that would track students across schools and colleges. 
    • Rubio has offered legislation that would promote income-share agreements as an alternative to traditional loans, and has joined with Democrats on bills that would require colleges to use standardised student-aid award letters, and that would streamline income-based repayment.
    • Like Obama, Rubio has called for updating the federal student-aid system to allow more money to flow to competency-based courses, an effort now under way at the Education Department, saying in a speech in 2013 that "it’s not just about spending more money on these programs; it’s also about strengthening and modernising them".
    • Student debt is a personal issue for Rubio, who owed more than US$100,000 when he graduated from law school in the mid-1990s. In a speech declaring his candidacy, he said that student debt was standing in the way of the American dream, evoking "young Americans, unable to start a career, a business, or a family because they owe thousands in student loans for degrees that did not lead to jobs"…

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PHOTO CREDIT: Joseph Sohm /

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