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Bernie Sanders College Plan Causes a Surge in the Polls

Vermont Sen. and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks to a crowd at the Village Leadership Academy during a campaign stop in Chicago on Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015.

Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune/TNS

Vermont Sen. and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks to a crowd at the Village Leadership Academy during a campaign stop in Chicago on Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015.

Danielle Koslow, Staff Writer

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Presidential Candidate Senator Bernie Sanders has surged in the polls, leading his main competitors Hillary Clinton and Martin O’Malley in New Hampshire Democratic Primary Election. This is in part due to a policy Sanders is planning to implement if he is elected as the next President of the United States: free college education.

Sanders believes that college tuition for public universities should be free in order to ensure that every person in the United States has an equal shot at success. Sanders stated on the matter, “Education should be a right, not a privilege. We need a revolution in the way that the United States funds higher education.” His plan, called the College for All Act, consists of six parts to help increase the rate of students who move on to higher education.

The first part of Sanders’ plan is simply to make tuition free at colleges. He believes that this will increase the incentive of lower income high school graduates to further their education. An increase in human capital, such as education, can increase the real GDP per capita of the United States and help boost the economy.

As a result of the first part, the Federal Government will no longer be able to make profits on student loan debts, which Sanders believes is immoral.  Typically, students have to pay between 5-7% on their student loans at often sky high interest rates. Sanders  plans to cut the high interest rates on student loans so students will be able to refinance their debts at current interest rates, which are lower than they were a few years ago.

Sanders also would like for public colleges to help send the lowest income students by providing 100% financial aid to them. His plan states that students in need of money will be able to use federal, state and college aid in order to get the full college experience that they desire, including any abroad or work programs, books, room and board, and all other living expenses.

In order for the government to get the $75 billion to fund the College for All Act, there would need to be an increase in taxation. However, instead of increasing taxes on all Americans, Sanders plans to only tax the Wall Street speculators who caused the housing bubble in 2008.

Students at Watchung Hills have mixed opinions on Sanders’ College for all Act. Suchir Govindarajan, a junior at Watchung Hills, stated that, “Bernie Sanders is definitely a strong candidate and the polls show that. Sanders is unique because he really tries to focus on domestic issues that will expand world wide, like his environmental plan and his refusal to marginalize Muslims. Making college free would, of course, be great! Education is the backbone of the nation and it is the cure to the criminal plague. Unfortunately, this will mean increasing government revenue or decreasing spending in other areas to make up for the loss, such as decreasing Social Security, which a democratic presidency will not support. Bernie has some great domestic policies, but implementing them will be the difficult part… But, if he is up against Trump in the primaries, Sanders will become our next President.” Suchir is one of many people who believe that Sanders plan will ultimately be successful, and is detrimental to the education of youth in the United States.

However, Andrew Stein, a senior at Watchung Hills, thinks otherwise.

“Taxing the wealthy has never been proven to be a successful way to pay for any of the social welfare programs in this country. Although it makes a nice sound bite and may rally some left wing liberals behind the cause, the money that would be raised would be like a drop of water in an ocean compared to how much is actually needed to fund this education program. This Robin Hood mentality of taking from the rich to help the poor has never worked. What we need is a grassroots level program to revamp the higher education system in this country by cutting unnecessary government spending and bureaucracy that is a result of the last 7 years of this Democratic administration. Adding another potential 8 years with Bernie Sanders would only make the situation worse. At that point we might as well move to China or Russia.”  

Even if Sanders is not chosen to be the Democratic presidential candidate, he has still brought an extremely important issue into the limelight: the incredibly high prices of college education. The rising price of going to college needs to be dealt with in the oncoming years, whether Sanders’ plan is implemented or not.

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Bernie Sanders College Plan Causes a Surge in the Polls