Before College: Make Your Vote Part of Your Pre-College Finance Plan!

Do need help so you can get an affordable degree or certificate leading to a satisfying, well-paying career? Are you wondering how you’ll manage your student loan debt? This fall’s election is incredibly important to the collegiate access and affordability that once prepared a workforce so skilled and well-educated it made the U.S. a world leader.

The Biden-Harris presidential ticket offers several proposals to address this issue. The Trump-Pence ticket has no similar proposals, but its administration made some revealing student grant and student loan proposals in its Fiscal Year 2021 federal budget recommendation.


As we’ve noted, the total cost of attending 4-year in-state public colleges averaged 41% of Median Household Income last academic year. Over the last decade, those costs rose 37%, led by a 49% tuition and fee increase.


  • Make all public colleges tuition free for students with family incomes below $125,000.
  • Provide two years of tuition-free career and technical training for those seeking to improve job skills.
  • Spend $50 billion on workforce training, including community college-based apprenticeship and business partnership programs.


  • Increase funding for career and technical training by almost $900 million.


Last academic year’s maximum Federal Pell Grant was $6,195 — 23% of the average total cost at 4-year in-state public colleges and universities, but down from 28% those costs in 2009-10.


  • For undergraduates from America’s poorest households, double Pell Grant amounts.
  • Extend Pell Eligibility to middle-class students.


  • Cut Pell appropriations by $1.7 billion and hold Pell award amounts steady.
  • Extend Pell eligibility to incarcerated students and students in short-term (mostly for-profit) programs leading to certificates or licenses in high-demand occupations.


More than 60% of 2019 bachelor’s degree recipients borrowed while attending 4-year colleges (public and private nonprofit). Their borrowing averaged $28,950, almost 57% of their average starting salaries, and 45 million Americans now owe $1.56 trillion in postsecondary debt.


  • Their tuition and Pell Grant proposals would help reduce future student borrowing.
  • Offer borrowers a new Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) plan limiting annual federal loan payments to 5% of their discretionary income — income minus taxes and essential spending — and forgiveness for whatever’s owed after 20 years.
  • Reform Public Service Loan Forgiveness to cancel $10,000/year in federal debt for up to 5 years of public service work.


  • Eliminate the Federal Direct Loan Program’s (FDLP’s) subsidized loans, thereby limiting undergraduates to FDLP unsubsidized loans on which interest builds up while in school. Set a $26,500 lifetime limit on FDLP parent loans.
  • Replace all current IDR plans with a “Single IDR” plan requiring payments equaling 12.5% of discretionary income and prohibiting loan forgiveness until 30 years of payments have been made.
  • Abolish Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

Remember, enrollment in postsecondary learning in the United States has dropped from 20.1 million in fall 2010 to 17.2 million in spring 2020 (even before the COVID pandemic) — a 14% decline. If you want to reverse this trend, if you want post-high school education to become more affordable for yourself and others, if you want to shrink you and your fellow Americans’ student loan indebtedness, than your Pre-College Finance Plan should include voting for Biden-Harris, not Trump-Pence!

Before and after college, College Affordability Solutions provides students and parents with free coaching on how to search for non-federal grants, scholarships, and part-time jobs to help make postsecondary learning more affordable and diminish reliance on student loans. If you need such assistance, contact us at (512) 366-5354 or to set up a consultation.

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