The Democratic Party Addresses Issues Facing College Students Across the Country

Students from WOLF Radio interviewed several members of the Democratic Party on Oct. 18 and Oct. 19, asking them their plans for helping college students in America fight debt and other deterrents from furthering education.

On Oct. 18, Senator Raphael Warnock visited Carrollton on his campaign trail and addressed significant issues in the community, including a few problems that college students would like to see mended.

“I want to make sure, first of all, that kids can afford college,” Warnock said. “I don’t just mean four-year colleges; I mean two-year colleges, community colleges, and technical colleges.” 

I am a co-sponsor of legislation that could expand our Pell-grant offerings,” continued Warnock. “I think nothing could be more important.”

On Wednesday, October 19, students Braylen Smith and Janelle “Jay” Carlisle and General

Manager Shawn was invited by the College Radio Foundation to visit the White House to discuss various topics facing college students.

Deputy of the National Economic Council, Bharat Ramamurti, was brought in to address multiple pressing issues involving student debt, including the most common inquiry of what will happen to those who have debt that cannot be canceled through the student loan repayment program. 

“When the President made the announcement about student debt relief, the debt relief part got a lot of attention, but that was only one of the three parts of his plan,” said Ramamurti. “There is a program that the federal government runs called income-based repayment, where it says that the amount that you have to pay back on your student loans depends on whatever your income is. The issue is that people have to take out too much debt in the first place, and not just people– it’s people from lower-income families who have to take out debt,” continued Ramamurti. “What the President has proposed is doubling the size of the Pell Grant.”

Among expanding the Pell Grant, President Biden has also mentioned creating free community colleges for students to receive education at no cost to them. Biden has also discussed holding the right organizations accountable for causing the majority of student debt.

“We have to place accountability measures to make sure that colleges can’t just keep raising costs through the roof and still receive federal funding,” said Ramamurti. “I think at a certain point, it would be useful to say that if you raise your costs too much, you can’t get these federal loans anymore.

“It’s not the kind of thing you can snap your fingers and do overnight, but we are going to work on all of that,” said Ramamurti. “I think it’s really important that right at the top, we provide this debt relief to people so that people who are struggling right now don’t come out of the pandemic and go back into the part where they have to start repaying their loans in January.”

The surprise of the trip came when Vice President Kamala Harris stopped in to visit. There she discussed the importance of a free press in a democracy. Students had the chance to ask her questions.

As the time for questions came to a close, Carlisle asked Harris what she would say to encourage current 4 year and potential 4 year students to complete and go to college without the guarantee of jobs after graduation. 

“One of the things I feel strongly about is as we’re creating these new industries and shifting them… we want to bring more back home to both invest in innovation and to also invest in manufacturing,” said Harris. “I think the focus of jobs should be what are the skills that are necessary to perform the job as opposed to some fancy title.”

“We also need to deal with the student loan debt issue and figure out how to create incentives and resources for people who want to pursue a degree.”