A major issue facing young people today is the rising cost of higher education and students’ difficulty in paying for college.

Support for higher education by both state and federal legislators has declined precipitously over recent decades. In fact support for public colleges and universities has dropped 40% since the 1980s.

Colleges and universities have no choice but to raise tuition, increase class size, decrease the number of courses and majors offered, and hire part-time low paid faculty. Tuition at public universities has risen 28% since 2008. It is up 107% since the early 1990s. Students and their families are the losers in all of this.

With the rise in tuition, students are ever more dependent on taking loans to cover their educational costs. The stagnation in wages for middle class workers over the last 40 years adds to the difficulty that students have in paying for college.

70% of students take loans. About half of these are government loans, the rest from banks. The profits to the government over 5 years reach into the Billions. Instead of raising taxes on millionaires, the federal government is getting revenue from people trying to pay for their education. And of course the banks also make BILLIONS FROM STUDENT LOANS.

The average undergraduate student leaves college more than $30,000 in debt. Total student debt has reached over a TRILLION dollars – higher even than credit card debt!

There is hope…

Fair Elections allow young people to run for office without being beholden to big private funders. The voice of student loan companies will no longer outweigh the voices of young people struggling to afford a college education.


A college education has never been more crucial for future success. And the health of our economy depends on educating our citizens. Yet a college education has also never been more expensive. As the cost of tuition and student debt continues to rise, so do the contributions of the student-loan industry to members of Congress. These loan institutions have used their clout to stymie efforts to make student loans more affordable.

Fair Elections, or publicly financed elections, would change the dynamic of the pay-to-play system. Candidates would no longer need to depend on contributions from the banks and the student loan industry – or any other – to run and win competitive campaigns.

The student loan industry funnels contributions to both state and federal lawmakers that are in charge of higher-education policy, with amounts rising dramatically in the last 25 years.

According to a survey, 22 percent of college graduates in their twenties have taken jobs they otherwise would not have because they needed more money to pay off student-loan debt. Eleven percent said they were delaying marriage and 14 percent are delaying having children. Moreover, 19 percent of those surveyed moved back home with their parents to cut costs and pay for their debt.

While many young people are barely getting by, the top executives at major student loan companies are reaping the rewards.

Public financing of elections, or Fair Elections, already law in Maine, Arizona and Connecticut cuts the ties between special interest money and public policy by allowing candidates to run for office without seeking large contributions from an elite and wealthy few. If they are elected they head to the statehouse accountable primarily to the voters who elected them, not the special interests who would have financed their campaign.

Fair Elections would create greater diversity in the candidate pool, allowing people from a variety of backgrounds, who might not otherwise have had the resources to run, to seek office and pursue policy solutions to the problems facing ordinary Americans.

The rising cost of higher education and students’ crushing debt burden are political – the result of decisions made by our elected officials. Student loans are big business and lenders continue to give money to our elected officials who are supposed to be representing us! Fair Elections would end this pay-to-play system and put American families and students ahead of campaign donors.

Further reading:
Common Cause
Jobs With Justice
Center for American Progress
Represent US

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