This week, three more candidates threw their hats in the ring for the Republican presidential nomination. Among them, Ben Carson announced is candidacy with the most flair—featuring a gospel choir, an Eminem song, and an inspiring video. He joins Carly Fiorina as the second non-politician in the race. Like Fiorina, Carson has believes America needs a new kind of leader, one from outside the “political class.”
The famed neurosurgeon and best-selling author has never held a political office before. He has never even run for one. Carson has, however, been active in commenting on politics. He gained notoriety after delivering a critical speech against Obamacare at the National Prayer Breakfast in 2013. He has frequently criticized Obamacare, going so far as to compare it to slavery.
Though he has already proved himself to be bold and outspoken, it is difficult to gauge what actions he might take on student loans as president since he has never governed before.
Over the years, he has spoken out against entitlement programs. His views on federal social programs may also affect his position on student loan programs. Earlier this year, he dismissed President Obama’s proposal to offer two years of community college free to all students with certain income restrictions. He pointed out that Pell grants already assist the poorest students, and for other students, he stated, “there is a four letter word that works extremely well, it’s called w-o-r-k, work.”
When asked about his solution to the student loan crisis in an interview in 2014, he reiterated this belief in the importance of work by saying, “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.” He continued, “How did we get into a big problem there? Somehow, people forgot that you don’t buy a house that costs more the 2 ½ times you annual salary…People have to use their brains. That’s why God gave you a brain…so you could understand what you can and cannot afford.”
Despite his strong views about paying your own way through school, Carson and his wife have their own scholarship fund. The Carson Scholars Fund was founded in 1994 “to combat the American education crisis by discovering the promise and rewarding excellence in our nation’s youth.” The organization offers $1000 scholarships to 4th-11th graders to be used towards college expenses.
Given his past statements, it is fair to assume that Carson does not favor legislation as a device to make college more affordable, instead he favors more “elbow grease” and other private sector solutions.