Where The Candidates Stand On Student Loans

More than two-thirds of graduates from public and nonprofit private universities in 2014 had student loans — an average of $28,950 per borrower, according to The Project on Student Loan Debt. Given those stats, it's no surprise that student loan debt tops the list of election issues for many millennial women. Roughly 21% of women ages 18 to 35 surveyed in a Refinery29/ABC News poll cited that subject as the most important to them. Millennial women share their views on the issue in the video above. Ahead, a look at where this year's crop of presidential candidates stand on the issue. For more on the issues that matter most to millennial women, check out the Refinery29/ABC News Vote Your Values poll here.

Hillary Clinton

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/ Getty Images.
Where She Stands: A "debt-free" plan at public colleges and universities through increased access to tuition grants and income-based repayment plans, and lower current loan interest rates. Clinton's presidential campaign platform includes the "New College Compact," which promises that students who attend public colleges "should never have to borrow to pay for tuition, books, and fees to attend a four-year public college in their state," according to her campaign website. Her proposal would also allow student loan borrowers to refinance their loans at current rates, CNBC explains, and the plan would cost about $350 billion over a 10-year period. While the plan may sound good to students, even liberal allies have questioned whether Republicans would get on board with this proposal.

In Her Words:
"No family and no student should have to borrow to pay tuition at a public college or university… And everyone who has student debt should be able to finance it at lower rates."

Bernie Sanders

Photo: Spencer Platt/ Getty Images.
Where He Stands: Free tuition at public colleges and universities, lower current loan interest rates back to 2006 levels, and allow graduates to refinance their loans at the same rate. The plan would cost about $70 billion a year, with the federal government footing two-thirds of the bill and states funding the rest. He proposes taxing Wall Street to cover the cost; critics on both sides of the aisle say the plan and tax are both unrealistic. On one area, Sanders is actually (somewhat) in agreement with Trump about student loans — both candidates believe that the federal government shouldn't profit from federal loans.

In His Words:
Sanders will "fight to make sure that every American who studies hard in school can go to college regardless of how much money their parents make and without going deeply into debt."

John Kasich

Photo: Luke Sharrett/ Bloomberg/ Getty Images.
Where He Stands: Ohio pays colleges and universities based on their course completion and graduation rate rather than enrollment, offers college courses to high schoolers, and has frozen tuition for the next two years while a task force looks at how to lower costs. Kasich, while he hasn't outlined a comprehensive education plan, has said he would look to replicate these programs nationally. Ohio's public colleges and universities, however, reportedly remain more expensive than the national average. Kasich stresses that education "is a local responsibility, not one to be micromanaged by federal bureaucrats." In His Words: "Everybody knows — every student, every parent, every university and community college president — anybody who is not living on the moon understands the fact that everybody feels the pressure of rising college and university costs," Kasich said in 2015, when he announced the creation of an Ohio task force to address higher education costs. "I don't like to predict the future, but Mom and Dad and students need to know that we are very, very aware of these costs."

Ted Cruz

Photo: Scott Olson/ Getty Images.
Where He Stands: Cruz hasn't spoken as much about student loan debt as he has about other issues. But one of his campaign platforms involves abolishing the U.S. Department of Education and giving more power, including dispersing student loans, to individual states. He has also said he would look to end affirmative action in the college admissions process. He has proposed reallocating financial aid from the department to the states. He has referenced his own student loan debt on the campaign trail. But in 2014, Cruz was among Senate Republicans who voted to block a bill that would have allowed 25 million Americans to refinance their student loan debt at lower interest rates.
In His Words: "[I] took over $100,000 in school loans, loans I suspect a lot of y'all can relate to, loans that I'll point out I just paid off a few years ago."

Donald Trump

Photo: Justin Sullivan/ Getty Images.
Where He Stands: Trump has not proposed a comprehensive education plan. In an interview with The Hill last July, he said that the federal government shouldn't profit from federal student loans, an issue on which he agrees with Democrats like Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. His own work on higher education has been scrutinized, however. Trump University, an unaccredited for-profit university the presidential candidate launched in 2005, is the subject of multiple lawsuits, including a pending class-action suit. He's defended the venture multiple times.
In His Words: "You could cut that [The Department of Education] way, way, way down."

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