Younger voters may pass on this years presidential elections. “It’s almost like if someone were voting in this election, it’d be like the lesser of two evils.” was the sentiment given by one Bowling Green University student in the swing state of Ohio. A new study found many of the under-30 crowd are not particularly interested in the sparing contest between President Obama and his challenger, Mitt Romney.
Despite young voters, those under 30 are more likely to vote Democrat, larger numbers of them are experiencing a lack in enthusiasm due in part to candidates’ inability to locate that common ground with college students.
“I feel that they’re not speaking issues that any of us can relate to. ‘Cause it’ll affect us eventually, but I don’t think too many of us are concerned with middle-class taxes right now.”
In an attempt to gain ground among independents and the undecideds both candidates have put little into communicating what they will do for the college aged. As yet another Bowling Green student expressed, he doesn’t care about middle-class tax cuts right now. But shouldn’t he? The decision about who to vote for and whether or not to even vote, taken en masse, will have lasting effects well into this student’s life in the very near future. The status of the middle-class will become all that more relatable soon after graduation.
But he’s also right, many people only care about the here and now, about what will happen tomorrow. What will you do to help me today, not what policies will help 5 years from now. It is an unfortunate, shared perspective in today’s face paced society. So what have the candidates done to entice students. What have they promised that will impact their lives now?
Mitt Romney, in the second debate, told a student he would make it easier for student to find jobs upon graduation. This is something he will do, or will be accomplished through his overall improvement of the US economy. He will create an atmosphere conducive to hiring which will boost the economy along with student employment. And he’s right. The 12 million new jobs he has promised to create in his first term will indeed include future graduates. An ambitious number so it’s lucky for the former governor that those 12 million jobs are already slated to be created. Romney also stated he planned to ensure Pell Grants keep pace with inflation by restricting eligibility.
What has Obama promised to do that will benefit students? To answer this question it may be better to look at what he’s already done.
- Brought federal student loans back into the fold of the US government eliminating the middle man (big banks), saving tens of millions of dollars and increasing funding of Pell Grants from $19 million to $36 million.
- Pushed to keep student loan interest rates low and has instituted student loan consolidation program to allow those with existing loans to keep those rates and monthly payments low.
- Instituted the American opportunity tax creditwhich allows for a broad range of tax credits and deductions for education-based expenses including tuition, fees and course materials (even computers and software) up to $2500. Obama supports its extension beyond December 2012 while Mitt Romney will allow it to expire.
- As of January 2012 loan payments were capped at 10% of earned income and will make loan balance forgiveness possible after 20 years as well as forgiveness for those in public service after 10 years.
- Has pressed for increased availability of student loans ensuring more people can make the dream of a college education a reality.
- As tuitions have skyrocketed Obama has pressured universities to keep costs down.
- And despite the controversies, the President’s health care reform has ensured access to health care for students and newly graduated student by allowing them to stay on their parents’ insurance until they are 26 years old.
While this election year has brought out the highest levels of partisanship and has confounded the mind with conflicting messages which has make it all but impossible to sift through it all to locate the truth. This makes the decision increasingly difficult prompting many just to throw up their hands in frustration. This frustration is evident in the Bowling Green students’ comments. They, like many others, are wondering who to vote for and who will act in their best interests. Given what President Obama has already done to help future, current and past students it is quite clear education and access to it is an ongoing focus of his and will continue into a second term. Mitt Romney has made some promises but his focus is less clear. With the continuous shifts in policy and values it is difficult to believe education will prove to be an essential element of his presidency. Given the looming fiscal problems associated with college loans and overwhelming costs of education itself this will undoubtedly be an issue of increasing importance. Would it not be prudent to support a leader with a well established valuation of education who seeks to ensure its accessibility for all?