If you care about higher education, Joe Biden should be your choice for president in next Tuesday’s election.
Over the past four years, President Donald Trump has failed to advance a cohesive higher education agenda for our country. It has done nothing to reduce college costs, expand access, or fight the exploding debt burden. He owns important cuts proposed funding for research, and its attacks on the relevance and value of science itself have emptied our response to COVID-19 and climate change. His lawsuits challenging positive action in college admissions, attacks on universities like Princeton try to recognize and address systemic racism, and refusal to condemn white supremacy have hampered our vital national effort to recognize and redress hundreds of years of racism. His announcement of a new “patriotic education” initiative and its Tweeter threatening to eliminate the tax-exempt status of universities with which he does not agree undermines academic freedom. He has even repealed Obama-era rules designed to protect students at operating for-profit universities. There is nothing here for education advocates to support.
- First, Biden wants to expand access to college education for low- and middle-income students by creating tuition-free public undergraduate degrees, doubling the size of the Pell Grant program, and providing significant financial support to students. community colleges, HBCUs and institutions serving large numbers of Pell students.
- Second, Biden called for regulatory action against for-profit organizations that exploit students, leaving them with high debt and no prospect of employment. This is vital if we are to protect students, increase economic mobility and ensure that our tax dollars are used wisely and in the public interest.
- Finally, Biden approved a number of important debt cancellation and limitation ideas in response to the US $ 1.6 trillion. college debt crisis, including: up to $ 10,000 in temporary student debt relief per borrower to help respond to the economic dislocation of COVID-19; a moratorium on accrued interest on federal student loans for people earning less than $ 25,000; limit debt payments to “no more than 5% of discretionary income for those earning more than $ 25,000”; and automatic loan cancellation after 20 years. This pledge will help save millions of Americans living under the shadow of debt they will never be able to repay.
There are, of course, many reasons to vote for Biden outside of his commitment to higher education. Whether you care about COVID-19, economic growth, or national security, Biden is the right choice. But as a longtime professor and former university president, I find his clear commitment to higher education inspiring, refreshing and necessary. Please vote.
[The views expressed in this essay are stated in my personal capacity and do not necessarily reflect those of any organizations with which I am affiliated as an employee or volunteer.]