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Student Debt Crisis: A Big Ticket Item

The student debt crisis is shaping up to be a major platform agenda of presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney for the upcoming November election.
Will Strouth/ The Daily Mississippian

Students across the state of Mississippi and the country are feeling the pressures of student loan debt even before they graduate from college.
President Obama and Gov. Romney are aware of the student debt situation, and though both candidates are against any increase in student loan interest rates, both are making strides to win voters with their own strategies to cope with the crisis. In late June, the U.S. Senate passed the appropriate measures to avoid doubling interest rates on new subsidized Federal Direct Stafford loans for undergraduate students from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. If action had not been taken by July 1, students across the country would have been forced into a more expensive situation.
Each candidate had his own take on the close call with the interest rate increase.
“Congress (had) time to fix this for months,” Obama said according to a CBS News article.
Many political analysts believed the president was firing shots at Republican lawmakers to increase his own stock for re-election. The Republican-led House of Representatives argued that they already passed a bill that struck down the increase long before the bill was passed by the Democrat-led Senate.
Romney also publicly opposed the interest increase, and supporters seemed to bank on the idea that the student debt crisis is a result of Obama’s failure to deliver on promises he made before he was elected in 2008.
At The University of Mississippi, students are breathing a sigh of relief after the close call with the interest increase. Students in Oxford, like all college students, will carefully consider this issue when deciding which candidate to vote for in November.
“I definitely want a leader who will fight for me and other students to make our futures better,” business management junior Bill Sullivan said. “In November, I will vote for the candidate that best represents my ideas on this issue.”
The Office of Financial Aid at Ole Miss deals with thousands of students who have taken out student loans to help pay for their education. Though it is not uncommon for college students to consider student debt issues when deciding which political leader to vote for, it is especially important during this election cycle considering the statistics students are facing.
The cost of a college education has risen by about 9 percent per year over the last 10 years, according to the Department of Education. This fall, The University of Mississippi’s tuition increased 8.5 percent.
On average, one year at a public university now costs more than $15,000. While the yearly in-state tuition rates at Ole Miss fall well below that mark, students in Oxford are still dealing with financial uncertainty in a shaky economy.
According to the Project on Student Debt, two-thirds of college seniors graduated with loans in 2010, and they carried an average of $25,250 in debt. In addition to having the weight of thousands of dollars on their shoulders in the future, students also face the highest unemployment rate for recent college graduates in recent history at 9.1 percent.
Employment is another platform that many students are eyeing for the upcoming election.
“It’s really hard knowing that I will have to repay tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt when I will probably struggle to find a job in this economy,” graduate student Sarah Dreary said. “Even with a master’s degree, I know nothing is guaranteed.”
Dreary said she is still uncertain whom she will vote for in November, but mentioned that the student debt crisis would be one of her major concerns.