What Do the Candidates Think About

Student Loans?

Claims that he will support helping even the most desperate borrowers refinance their debt, but has not as yet put forward a detailed plan for fixing the student loan crisis or detailed what his higher education policy would be.

Approves of a Warren-style federal refinancing program.



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Believes student debt requires a “comprehensive, multifaceted approach” that needs to deal with students’ current debt, change the payment schedule, and expand financial aid. 

Advocated for loan refinancing and income-based repayment.



2016 Presidential Election 













Student of the biggest problems we have right now in the country.



It’s terrible that one of the only profit centers we have is student loans.


Bernie Sanders

We must fundamentally restructure

our student loan program.

Argued that universities should be more transparent about how many of their graduates are finding jobs so that potential students can make smarter decisions when choosing.

Focuses more on the long-term disruption of the traditional university model in favor of for-profit firms.

Jeb Bush

University system is moving from...

a provider-driven model to a

consumer-driven one.

Called for tuition-free courses for freshmen and sophomores at public universities, and suggested closing tax loopholes for corporations as a means of paying for it.

Strong record of advocacy for college affordability and a borrower-friendly stance. The big question will be how exactly the American government will be able to afford increased funding for higher education.

The other candidates

Scott Walker

We know it's not just about providing more financial assistance, it's about providing a great price for a UW education that's

low to begin with.

At one point in my life, it was the

single-highest expenditure in our

personal budget.

Co-sponsored the 2014 Investing in Student Success Act, aimed at private financing options for college education, including repayment plans based on percentage of income between students and private investment firms.

Cautiously supportive of refinancing models and income based payment plans.

Marco Rubio

Cut $300 million in state funding from the University of Wisconsin. Proposed changes to the university’s mission statement, replacing the emphasis on public service and the search for truth.

Chose not to endorse any Wisconsin student loan refinancing bills put forth in 2014.

Ben Carson

Many people get into financial strife because they don’t understand the importance of work…There’s nothing wrong with working a few years before going to school.

And now we’re seeing that more and more

debt, even at public institutions of higher

education, just makes it more difficult.

Supported student debt-related legislation as a senator. In 2005, he voted to increase funding for Pell Grants and increase loan forgiveness for math and science teachers.

Signed legislation that extended in-state tuition, scholarships, and student loans to undocumented immigrants.

Lincoln Chaffee

Dismissed President Obama’s proposal to offer two years of community college free to all students with certain income restrictions. Pell grants already assist the poorest students.

Strong views about paying your own way through school, Carson and his wife have their own scholarship fund.

Ted Cruz

Took over $100,000 in school loans, loans I suspect a lot of ya’ll can relate to, loans that I’ll point out I just paid off a few

years ago.

[Universities] continually bring things up

and just think ‘Oh well [the students] will

just borrow the money.

Passed the new College Affordability bill and explored the “Pay It Forward” model, where state tuition would be eliminated and graduates would pay back loans as a percentage of their income. 

Cautiously supportive of refinancing models and income based payment plans.

Chris Christie

Voted in favor of the bipartisan bill that became law in July 2013, which capped student loan interest rates and fixed them for the life of the loan.

Argued that the US Department of Education should be abolished. 

Bobby Jindal

The Republican party does have a lot of work to do. But changing our principles is not a winning strategy. We need to modernize, not moderate.

Right now, the federal government is charging 6-and-a-half and 7-and-a-half percent. That’s kind of high.

Focused on the economy in her previous senate campaign. She is concerned with the federal government’s debt and advocates fiscally conservative policies.

Spoken briefly about student loans and has mentioned that the student loan industry should be simplified.

Carly Fiorina

When most states were finally starting to reinvest in higher education after recovery from the recession, Jindal cut one third of spending on higher education in his state to the tune of $300 million.

Defender of the for-profit college industry and opposed President Obama’s bill to hold them to accountability standards.

Lindsey Graham

If you think Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

did a good job with housing, wait until

the government runs student loans.

It is very difficult for a lot of people to get to college and more importantly to get

a job when they get out.

Said in 2008, he would support the use of federal subsidies for graduates that go into national service, as well as scholarships for exceptional high school graduates from low-income families.  

Proposes thrift and practicality rather than new ideas or a willingness to take on the powerful.

Mike Huckabee

Stood against initiative eliminating subsidies to private lenders and expanded federal funding for their government lending programs and Pell Grants.

Voted against Elizabeth Warren’s student loan amendment to the 2015 Republican budget resolution and is very much pro-lender.

Rand Paul

I’ve got a better idea—let’s let college students deduct the cost of their

education over their working career!

It’s outrageous that you can buy a home

for a lower interest rate than you can

get a student loan.

Brought Maryland's state college tuition from 8th highest when O’Malley began his first term as Governor in 2007. By 2014, they had fallen to the 27th most expensive. He froze state tuition for four years and held tuition increase to 3%. 

Believes there needs to be serious consideration to find ways refinance debts in today's economy. 

Martin O'Malley

Plans to abolish the Department of Education. He makes a specific exception to save the Pell grant program. 

Wants to allow all tuition and student loan debt to be fully tax deductible, doing away with the current income restrictions and tax credit program. 

Rick Santorum

President Obama once said he wants everybody in America to go to college. What a snob.

Working families cannot pursue job training

or higher education without sacrificing

what little financial security they may enjoy.

Focused on working families and veterans, rather than more traditional students, and he hasn’t brought forth any ideas supporting loan refinancing, forgiveness, or freezes on interest rates for borrowers.

Only Democrat to vote against his party’s 2012 bill to keep student loan interest rates from doubling.

Jim Webb

Went after the traditional university for their inability to give students the skills needed to compete for jobs on a global scale, he has staunchly defended for-profit colleges.

Positioned himself as an advocate for technical training and has not mentioned refinancing and loan forgiveness as an option. 

Rick Perry

Reforming public education, cutting property taxes, ... can all occur when Democrats and Republicans engage in consensus

and cooperation.

Proposed his famous $10,000 tuition plan. More of a challenge than an initiative, Governor Perry called on Texas institutions to provide low cost options for higher education.

Voiced support for technology-enabled long-distance learning, another alternative to the traditional classroom that would cut the cost of higher education.