Login

Could the Politicization of Student Debt Be Good for Students?

Partisan political disagreements are rarely considered to be good for anyone (except for political pundits who make their living off of sensationalism). But could the recent two-sided dispute over student loan debt interest actually be a good thing for students?

View popular schools

By Sarah Wright

student debt congress republican president

Student Loan Interest Rate Hike on the Horizon

There's another partisan dispute to add to the list of election-year squabbles: student loan debt. As of early April, Democratic lawmakers were working to find a solution to a $6 billion problem. That problem is the impending doubling of the current interest rate for federal student loans. Currently, House Republicans haven't made room in the federal budget for the additional $6 billion that would be necessary to avoid this interest rate raise.

The answer to the question of whether or not this would be good for students depends almost entirely on what your political priorities are. If you believe that the government is responsible for ensuring fair access to quality education for all citizens, including those in lower income brackets, political pressure on this issue is going to be a good thing. But if you're of the belief that funding education isn't the proper role of government, it's not likely that you'll be thrilled about the kind of attention this issue is likely to attract.

A Reversal on Loan Debt from Republicans?

It seems inevitable at this point that Mitt Romney will become the Republican nominee for president. Though he's a relative moderate in a field that includes Newt Gingrich, the man behind the 1994 federal government shutdown, Romney has made his feelings about federal education funding clear, saying 'It would be popular for me to stand up and say, 'I'm going to give you government money to pay for your college,' but I'm not going to promise that.' He's right that it would be popular, and there's a good likelihood that too much anti-loan campaigning will backfire on him. The idea of federal student loans are generally looked on favorably, and few of the tens of millions of student loan debt holders in the U.S. are going to be enthused about having to pay even more interest every year.

The fact is that Republicans haven't always taken such a harsh stance on this issue. Thanks to pressure from small-government ideologues, GOP leaders have adopted a slash-and-burn mentality toward federal spending, especially when it comes to non-military funding for things like education and social welfare. But the current mindset represents an ideological shift for the mainstream of the Republican party. In 2007, President George W. Bush signed the College Cost Reduction and Access Act, which, among other things, lowered interest rates for federal loans and introduced debt forgiveness programs. According to Politico, Republican members of Congress supported the act, including some who are still in office today.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Agriculture
  • Architecture
  • Biological and Biomedical Sciences
  • Business
  • Communications and Journalism
  • Computer Sciences
  • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Legal
  • Liberal Arts and Humanities
  • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
  • Medical and Health Professions
  • Physical Sciences
  • Psychology
  • Transportation and Distribution
  • Visual and Performing Arts

Political Gamesmanship

It seems unlikely that any but the most staunchly partisan Republican students and parents would be enthusiastic about the prospect of increased interest for federal loans, to say nothing about the prospect of a total elimination of federal higher education funding. Romney has suggested that those who need help paying for college should join the military, which seems like a harsh trade-off that's unlikely to bring moderate and undecided voters to his corner. The political motivation for this type of rhetoric seems clear, given the strength and organization of nationalistic anti-government groups like the Tea Party. It wouldn't be very politically expedient for a Republican presidential candidate to champion loan forgiveness and increased education spending. That's understandable from an election-specific strategic standpoint, but the question remains: is this really the best move for a populace already saddled with a tremendous amount of debt?

Recently, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced that U.S. citizens collectively hold a staggering $1 trillion in student debt. This at a time when many are turning to education as a means to secure a good career in the most unstable job market we've seen in decades. Doubling interest rates for Stafford loans could end up costing individual debtors thousands of additional dollars. This is particularly significant when one considers the fact that student loan debt cannot be forgiven in bankruptcy proceedings. These are troubling facts, and would be sharp weapons in the quiver of a politician who wants to drum up federal support for student loan debt holders. In this sense, it does seem that more political attention to this issue could end up being a good thing.

Feeling overwhelmed by student loans? Learn how to pay down your student debt in five easy steps.

Next: View Schools

What is your highest level of education?

Some College
Complete your degree or find the graduate program that's right for you.
High School Diploma
Explore schools that offer bachelor and associate degrees.
Still in High School
Earn your diploma of GED. Plan your undergraduate education.

Schools you may like:

Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

    • Master of Education in Special Education, specializing in Applied Behavior Analysis
    • Master of Health Administration in Health Systems Management
    • Master of Science in Health Informatics
    • Master of Education in Special Education, specializing in Autism Spectrum Disorder
    • Applied Behavior Analysis Certificate
    • Autism Spectrum Disorder Certificate

    What is your highest level of education?

    • Master of Science in Finance
    • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management
    • Master of Professional Studies in Real Estate

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • Master of Arts in Strategic Communication
    • Master of Arts in Strategic Communication - Advocacy and Social Impact Concentration
    • Master of Arts in Economics
    • Master of Public Administration and Policy
    • Master of Science in Agile Project Management
    • Master of Science in Healthcare Management
    • Graduate Certificate in Agile Project Management
    • Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Analytics and Management
    • Graduate Certificate in Project Monitoring and Evaluation

    What is your highest level of education?

    • Master of Science in Communication
    • Master of Science in Education in Special Education
    • Master of Science in Engineering Technology
    • Master of Science in Hospitality and Tourism Management
    • Master of Science in Education in Learning Design and Technology
    • Graduate Certificate in Strategic Communication Management

    What is your highest level of education?

    • MSHS in Health Care Quality
    • MA in Education and Human Development in Secondary Special Education and Transition Services
    • MA in Education and Human Development in Special Education for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners
    • MA in Education and Human Development in Educational Leadership and Administration
    • MA in Education and Human Development in Educational Technology Leadership
    • MA in Education and Human Development in Organizational Leadership and Learning
    • Graduate Certificate in Health Care Quality
    • Graduate Certificate in Multimedia Development
    • Graduate Certificate in Special Education for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners
    • Graduate Certificate in Transition Special Education
    • Education Specialist in Educational Leadership and Administration
    • Graduate Certificate in E-Learning

    What is your highest level of education?

    • Master of Arts in Health and Human Services Administration
    • Master of Arts in Human Resource Management
    • Master of Arts in International Development
    • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership
    • Master of Arts in Special Education
    • Master of Science in Accountancy
    • RN to Bachelors of Science in Nursing

    What is your highest level of education completed?

  • What is your highest level of education?

    • Ph.D. in Literacy
    • Ph.D. in Literacy: Educational Leadership
    • Ph.D. in Literacy: Special Education
    • Ph.D. in Literacy: Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)
    • Master of Business Administration in Interdisciplinary Business
    • Master of Business Administration in Taxation
    • Master of Science in Accounting
    • Master of Science in Taxation
    • Master of Science in Library and Information Science
    • Master of Science in Library and Information Science: Academic Librarianship

    What is your highest level of education?

    • MA in Communication
    • Master of Liberal Arts
    • MA in Science Writing
    • MS in Applied Economics
    • MS in Geographic Information Systems
    • MS in Bioinformatics
    • Post-Bachelor's Certificate in Government Analytics
    • Post-Bachelor's Certificate in Applied Research for Communication
    • MS in Food Safety Regulation
    • Certificate in Science Writing
    • Certificate in Science, Technology, and International Security Studies
    • Post-Master's Certificate in Sequence Analysis & Genomics

    What is your highest level of education?

    • Doctor of Business Administration - Management
    • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
    • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
    • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Special Education
    • Ph.D. in General Psychology - Cognition and Instruction
    • Ph.D. in General Psychology - Industrial and Organizational Psychology
    • M.S. Psychology with an Emphasis in Gerontology
    • M.S. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Human Factors
    • MA in Curriculum and Instruction
    • MS in Criminal Justice: Legal Studies
    • MS in Psychology: General Psychology
    • M.A. in Communication with an Emphasis in Education
    • Bachelor of Science in Business for Secondary Education
    • BS in Applied Management
    • BS in Psychology
    • B.S. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Performance and Sports Psychology
    • Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education
    • BS in Accounting
    • Graduate Certificate of Completion in GeroPsychology
    • Graduate Certificate of Completion in Industrial and Organizational Psychology
    • Graduate Certificate of Completion in Forensic Psychology
    • Graduate Certificate of Completion in Health Psychology
    • Graduate Certificate of Completion in Human Factors Psychology
    • Graduate Certificate of Completion in Life Coaching

    What is your highest level of education?

Find your perfect school

What is your highest level of education?