Alberto Medina is getting ready for graduation. The 21-year-old accounting major is currently struggling with student debt. Loans have helped him to pursue his career, but he knows he will eventually have to pay for it.
“I owe approximately $20,200 from all the loans I have gotten,” Medina said. “I hope I get a job as a graduate, because I have to pay all that money back.”
Since the cost of getting a higher level of education has been gradually increasing, students like Medina have to make the decision of saving money for college or getting student loans, which they will need to pay back once they find a job after graduation.
And finding a good job doesn’t look like an easy task in current times.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that “unemployment among youth rose by 611,000 from April to July 2016, compared with an increase of 654,000 for the same period in 2015.”
According to Think Progress Organization, “around 17 percent of borrowers are behind in their payments or in default. The issue is specifically a concern to younger voters, with 65 percent of student loans held by Americans younger than 39.”
Student loans, college affordability and jobs are the top main concerns among millennials, according to a poll conducted by Rock the Vote in January. The economy and the possibility of getting a job are guiding their preferences for the 2016 presidential election.
Oscar Rodriguez, an NMSU business management major, does not receive any financial help and does not want to acquire any debt. For this reason he has to have a full-time job and take only two classes per semester.
“I really don’t know that much about politics,” Rodriguez says. “If I had to vote, I would choose a candidate that gives us at least a little bit of hope and can help young students. We need someone who can help us out economically and lead us to achieve our long-term goals.”
On the other side, NMSU biochemistry student, Brenda Ponce does not worry about getting any loans. Since she was a young girl, her family made her a savings account, so she would be able to pay for college without going into debt.
“My parents have always helped me with school,” Ponce said. “Since my dad makes good money, I do not have to worry about the classes I get. Besides, I have a bank account in which my parents deposit money, so I would be able to use it for school-related projects.”
According to Hilary Clinton’s campaign website, she wants to make both state universities and community colleges tuition-free for all middle-income families. She also wants to help graduates refinance their loans. By doing this, she hopes to increase access to higher education by any student who wants it. “Let’s make debt-free college available to everyone,” Clinton said during a campaign speech on June 22. “And let’s liberate the millions of Americans who already have student debt.”
The past year, during the fourth GOP economic policy debate in Colorado, Republican candidate, Donald Trump, addressed his point of view by saying that instead of helping other nations by acting as “policeman of the world,” he would concentrate on creating a country that would be as great as it has been before.
Even though he addressed economic issues, he never named any idea to help student in college with their current debt.
In 2014, the Census reported that 46.7 million people in the U.S. are living in poverty, making up 14.8 percent of the population. The rates for African Americans and Hispanics are even higher, at roughly 25 percent. Approximately 70 percent of adults in poverty have a high school diploma or above, but are still living below the poverty level because 50 percent of jobs in the U.S. pay less than $35,100 a year.
Nursing student Ana Alvidrez has been listening closely to what each political campaign has been addressing. For her political science class, she made a list of the pros and cons for each candidate, from employment to women’s rights. She wants someone who can help provide graduates with quality jobs.
“I’m looking for a candidate that makes me feel safe in my country and is willing to help our young generation,” Alvidrez says. “I’ll give my vote to Hilary Clinton simply because she has talked more about helping college students out and she made a good job helping her husband in his presidency.”