This is part of an ongoing series by Credible about how the 2016 presidential candidates would affect student loans and the financing of education for students and borrowers.
Former governor of Rhode Island, Lincoln Chafee, has yet to formally announce his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, but he recently stated on CNN that he is running. Chafee is unique among the other 2016 hopefuls and among all American politicians since he has been a republican, independent, and democrat. He has said it is not his ideas that have changed, but the parties. His views on education certainly seem consistently focused on expanding access and affordability to higher education.
This former governor, senator, and mayor is a big proponent of higher education. He discussed his views on higher education with Brown Political Review at his alma mater in 2013, stating, “Well, I do think that going back to my experience after World War II and the G.I. Bill and the strength of the state universities across America — whether it was Missouri or Arizona or Montana or Illinois or California — the strong institutions of affordable public higher education coupled with the G.I. Bill, that’s what made America strong. People just were able to go to that community college or go to that four-year institution and get a degree. And now we’re seeing that more and more debt, even at public institutions of higher education, just makes it more difficult.”
As governor of Rhode Island he backed several programs to expand access to education in his state. He signed legislation that extended in-state tuition, scholarships, and student loans to undocumented immigrants. Chafee also worked with the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority to provide zero interest loans to nursing student who remained in Rhode Island after graduation to work.
In addition to his work on higher education as governor of Rhode Island, Chafee supported student debt-related legislation as a senator. In 2005, he voted to increase funding for Pell Grants and increase loan forgiveness for math and science teachers.
Through his support of the programs in Rhode Island and his voting record, it is clear Chafee recognizes a connection between student loans as an important factor in obtaining an education and subsequently improving the American workforce. If elected in 2016, it seems Chafee would maintain the government’s role in student loan programs and continue to find ways to provide further access to education, and perhaps even make this issue a priority.
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