To aid or not to aid?

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By Erin Hudson

By Erin Hudson

Election Day is right around the corner and the candidates voices seem to be everywhere, but from their platforms I’m not sure they can hear ours.

The presidential debates are in full swing with talk of lower taxes, answers to the failing economy, and promises of a better life if they’re elected.

It seems with all these major issues, financial aid has slipped through the cracks, along with students’ college future.

However, it hasn’t been ignored entirely; you just have to hunt for the information.

There are many factors causing the high costs in tuition. Some say it’s the states’ fault because it’s the state’s budget that determines the cost of public college.

Others blame the colleges themselves, claiming the schools are spending their budgets unwisely.

Some even blame the parents of college students, who complain about the rising costs of college, yet still insist their kids go to a more costly, prestigious school.

No matter where the finger points, most everyone can agree that some changes need to be made with financial aid.

Both candidates agree that college should be affordable for everyone, and that getting financial aid is too complicated, but both have very different opinions on what to do about it.

Sen. John McCain has no statements in regards to boosting financial aid for secondary education, which includes Riverside City College and other forms of higher education.

That’s a pretty large umbrella of uncertainty we’re under.

Other ideas he’s proposed concerning higher education is simplifying the higher education tax benefits and simplifying Federal Student Aid by consolidating programs and streamlining the application process.

McCain is also looking to eliminate earmarks, which is pork-barrel spending on university research projects.

McCain’s vision for the future of financial aid is making the process we already have in place easier to use.

It doesn’t look like any extra money will be budgeted but the process of getting it will be smoother.

Sen. Barack Obama goes into a little more detail when it comes to college financial aid.

Obama wants to establish a $4,000 refundable “American Opportunity tax credit,” which would be available at the time of enrollment.

This credit would cover 100 percent of the first $4,000 of college education cost.

Here’s the interesting twist: Let’s make the students work for it while making the world a better place.

Recipients would be obligated to perform 100 hours of community service.

Hopefully they won’t be making us don an orange jumpsuit and pick up trash on the side of the road. On the other hand that’s $40 an hour-not too shabby.

But this tax cut wouldn’t be adding to the existing budget exactly. The new tax credit would replace the Hope Scholarship and the Lifetime Learning tax credit.

Obama also has some new ideas on the subject of student loans.

He wants to replace the Federal Family Education Loan Program with 100 percent direct lending.

Obama also wants to put an end to the complicated federal aid application process by substituting a checkbox on the federal income tax return.

Instead of filling out aid paperwork, parents can check a box on their tax returns that will release the information to colleges.

There are already proposals in the works shortening the federal aid application from more than 100 questions to 26.

That’s if it doesn’t end up getting done away with.

Obama’s proposals go into more detail, but they’re more expensive. They imply that the government should be doing more to help students pay for college.

McCain’s proposals are more general, and focus on making the financial aid process easier and faster.

He wants to make more information on financial aid available for students and parents, but he’s not really interested in increasing it.

Obama’s campaign page does have a brief outline of his education plan while McCain doesn’t have any financial aid information offered on his.

McCain’s lack of internet could be due to the larger generation gap or higher education just might not be at the top of his priority list.

While information on financial aid has been discussed by the two candidates, I don’t think it’s as much of a priority as it should be.

Both candidates claim to reach out to young adults, yet they let issues that readily affect students slip into a gray area.

The outcome depends on how you feel about the current situation surrounding financial aid.

It can either be fixed by a band-aid or an amputation, your decision lies in the ballot.

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