Presidential candidates offer students hope for higher education needs

As the Board of Trustees has approved a raise in tuition and with the state cutting finances for higher education, it’s time students begin looking outside of Kentucky for financial support and start looking at the bigger picture.

As mentioned in last week’s edition of the Kernel, Student Government president Tyler Montell, vice president Grant Mills and other members of SG traveled to Washington, D.C., to stress the issue of higher education to Kentucky’s elected officials. It’s about time someone spoke up to those in Washington, especially with the current state of UK’s budget.

Higher education should be a priority for students, especially incoming freshmen who have three to four more years of tuition to pay. With the election coming this November, students should begin their research on where the candidates stand on higher education and what they will do for them.

We students are historically infamous for our apathy when it comes to civic duty, but this year, it’s critical for us to care about the decisions the nation makes for president.

In addition to the issue of rising tuition, the next president will decide the federal funding for higher education and the availability and money put in Pell Grants and Perkins Loans.

For students not aware, Pell Grants and Perkins Loans are government-sponsored grants and low interest rate loans available to students. Currently, President George W. Bush’s 2008 Fiscal Year Plan proposes to eradicate the Perkins Loan program and recall the entire federal portion of circulating funds held by participating institutions, including UK.

Beyond typical outlets like CNN and Fox News, students should look toward national and local newspapers for political analysis of the 2008 presidential candidates. Additionally, students can go online to both candidates’ Web sites to find their stance on higher education.

According to his campaign Web site, presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is proposing a Student Loan Continuity Plan, in which relies on the federal government and the 50 governors to anticipate problems and expand the lender-of-last resort capabilities for each state’s guarantee agency.

Presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) plans to suggest the higher education tax credit be increased to $4,000, double the existing Hope tax credit. Those who were to receive the credit would have to perform 100 hours of community service per year. Additionally, he would like to increase the maximum Pell Grant. Obama also plans on simplifying the application process for financial aid, according to Obama’s official Web site.

While it seems November is far off, now is a great time to begin investigating which candidate will

represent students in higher education issues. If our local and state governments aren’t doing the job

for us students, casting our vote for the next president will be the most important thing we can do to have a hand in determining our future in higher education.