How important is student debt to Rutgers voters?
As of 2012, 71 percent of students graduating from a four-year college had some form of student debt, making it a key issue in this year's election.
“Student debt is a big issue to me. I find it to be a recurring issue among my peers and I. Especially going to a large school like Rutgers, there is a big mix of opinions on the topic,” said Deon Sammy, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore.
Although he is not voting, Sammy said that if he were, student debt would be a big factor in his decision making. He feels he has not seen a realistic approach by either candidate.
The average 2016 graduate left college with approximately $37,000, which is up 6 percent from last year, according to studentloanhero.com.
Despite this, college debt is a not a big factor in decision making for some students this election, said Sean Aitken, a School of Arts and Sciences junior. He finds other issues to be more important, such as national debt, foreign policy and reduction of taxes.
“I don't believe that college should be free, but I believe that anybody capable should be allowed a fair chance at having the same education as someone ‘more privileged,'" he said. "Maybe a solution could be adjustable interest rates based on what major the prospective student will pursue and their potential earning."
Aitken said there is not a candidate with a suitable plan for student debt and that he believes no politician cares about the topic.
Student debt is often a determinate in whether or not someone pursues higher education, thus making it an important topic in this election, said Haley Shinn.
“I think student debt is important for the future of people my age, but I also feel like there are other things we should focus on first,” the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences sophomore said.
Shinn said she hopes the next president makes a student debt plan that is affordable for each individual person.
She feels debt payments should vary by salary, and hopes the next president offers a plan that makes it possible to afford to live without serious struggles, she said.
Debt can be a crippling obstacle to some students in college, said Julia Ferris, a School of Arts and Sciences junior.
“I know people who have dropped out or seriously considered it because the education they receive isn't worth the debt they were in and are taking on. Not everyone has the luxury of having their parents paying for school, and while scholarships are available, few cover all expenses,” she said.
Student debt is a big motivator in voting for her, she said.
“When you're over $30k in debt with a year left to go in school, the topic of debt is a big motivating factor in your vote,” Ferris said.
This article is part of The Daily Targum's 2016 election coverage. For a full list of articles, click here.
The Eagleton Institute of Politics has released a full list of candidates running in New Jersey municipalities. Click here for more.
Chloe Dopico is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in political science and journalism and media studies. She is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum.