IOWA — The topic of college affordability arose during Wednesday’s Democratic debate and undoubtedly will again Thursday.
Senator Bernie Sanders proposed earlier this week his plan to eliminate all existing student loan debt. He plans to do that by taxing Wall Street transactions.
It’s all part of the Vermont senator’s sweeping higher education plan. About 45 million Americans hold $1.6 Trillion in student loan debt. Under Sanders’ proposal, that debt would be canceled within six months.
“Bottom line is we should not be punishing people for getting a higher education. It is time to hit the reset button,” Sen. Bernie Sanders said.
What could this mean for Iowans? According to Iowa College Aid, 57% of students who graduated from the state’s public universities in 2017, graduated with student loan debt, averaging about $27,000. That number is even higher for private school grads, 74% of them left school with an average of $34,900 in student loans.
Iowa exceeds the national average when it comes to student loan debt. According to the Institute for College Access & Success’ Student Loan Debt project, Iowa ranked ninth in the nation for the share of 2017 four-year college graduates with debt.
The non-profit organization, Iowa Student Loan, can’t comment directly on Sanders’ proposal but said in a statement it commends candidates who are addressing the issue.
“There are many perspectives on the best approaches to consider and this conversation is helpful as it also serves as a warning to current and future college students to be careful how much money they borrow,” a spokesperson for Iowa Student Loan said.
Sanders’ proposal thinks ahead to those future college students. Part of the legislation calls for tuition-free public college. It also provides new funding for low-income students to help pay living expenses and tuition at some private institutions that serve large numbers of minority students.
Sanders takes the stage Thursday night, along with nine other Democratic presidential hopefuls, for part two of the Democratic debates. You can watch it on Channel 13 beginning at 8:00 p.m.