One of the most important issues for the 99 Percent Movement and the Occupy Wall Street protesters who took to the streets in cities across the nation last year is student debt. Average student debt in America has hit a record high of $25,250 per student, while outstanding student debt is around $1 trillion.
Today, New Hampshire voters will select their preferred Republican standard bearer in the GOP presidential primary. But when it comes to economic policy and concern for the 99 Percent, the voters don’t have much of a choice, as the candidates are largely in lockstep. And that is doubly true when it comes to student debt, even as the candidates hope for a win in the state that carries the nation’s largest student debt load, as the Ticket’s Liz Goodwin noted:
New Hampshire college students graduate with the highest average debt in the country: a staggering $31,048 for the class of 2010, according to a report by the Project on Student Debt. And tuition at the state’s public universities is among the highest in America, an average of more than $23,000 a year…Many of [the GOP candidates] have not yet gone into detail about their ideas for the country’s education system. But one issue unites most of the Republicans: getting the federal government out of education, which includes government loans to students.
In addition to having no solutions for record student debt loads, many of the GOP candidates want to dismantle the federal student loan program entirely, calling it an “absurdity” and a “total failure.” When President Obama announced a new plan to forgive some student loan debt, Newt Gingrich derided it as a “Ponzi scheme.”
The Roosevelt Institute’s Mike Konczal has some good ideas for grappling with student debt, including mass refinancing of all student loans “into the current low rates the financial sector enjoys.” But even in the state that is buried under the most student debt, the Republican candidates have provided little in terms of solutions.