A few months back we all knew that the student loan interest rate would remain where it is. With this being an election year, we have been given a one-year reprieve, but we're still at a critical moment and cannot slide into complacency -- particularly when Mitt Romney makes a statement like students should "get as much education as they can afford." With the economy in a slump here and abroad, it seems our society is teetering ever closer toward a divided society. The haves versus the have-nots has never seemed closer and a statement like this feels like a giant push in that direction.
But parents and students do have some power on their side right now. The election prompted the government to postpone making a long-term decision on student loan interest rates and that same election now gives the people the power to send a message back about how they feel on the issue. Romney supported keeping the interest rate where it is. However, he has made numerous statements that feel as though he doesn't have the average person's interest at heart. During his presidential campaign, Mitt Romney has advised students to "borrow money from their parents" to fund their education. Has he looked at where the average family's wages are right now?
There has not been a resounding economic recovery across the board in America. Where are the parents supposed to get the money? Does Romney even realize that while most parents do save for their child's education, those savings typically cover only 18% of the associated costs? Is he saying that parents should risk their financial future to educate their children? Or that students should get into heavy debt as a "risk" associated with college?
Most importantly to both candidates: how do you think students should pay for college? What can be done to curb rising tuition? How are we going to educate people without bankrupting parents and students in the process? These are questions that we as voters need answered.
Once we have a good understanding of what the candidates may do next year when this same issue comes up again, we need to vote accordingly. Will Mitt Romney support a rise in student loan interest rates next year? This is an important issue with ramifications that will be felt for generations. It matters what happens here: do we want to live in an educated society or one where only the wealthy are educated? To me, the latter feels like a giant step backwards.
Keep the pressure on. Do what you can to be heard, then vote for the candidate who stands for what you believe in and will work to see that higher education is available to all.