The impact of politics on education is widespread, with impacts that can be felt in all grades and school types. Because of the potential ramifications, everyone in the academic sector should always pay close attention to political reform, but this year’s election sets the stage to become one of the largest decisive measures ever with President-Elect Joe Biden’s new endorsements.
Biden’s $750 billion plan includes reformative ideas like student loan forgiveness, repayment programs, and extended financial aid to minorities. His restructuring of the current education system as it is today could significantly affect community college enrollment at levels never seen before.
Biden’s $750 Billion Plan
The major driving force behind the education reform is to encourage more people to continue their knowledge beyond high school. For this to happen, Biden’s campaign proposal calls for community college to be tuition-free for up to two years. Pell Grant values would be doubled because of inflation, and more people, including ex-prisoners, would be eligible to receive this monetary compensation.
An entirely new grant, “Title I for Postsecondary Education,” would be enacted. This grant is intended to help four-years schools handle the influx of students they would be gaining that would be attending under Pell Grants. These colleges are often on tight budgets as it is, and a larger student population without the resources to handle them would be difficult.
This $750 billion plan reduces for-profit and private loan lenders who continually profit from student need. The eventual intent would be for Congress to legally allow private student loans to be discharged with bankruptcy cases, which is not currently enacted.
Under the $750 billion plan, which would be funded over the next decade, allowances would be given for things like workforce training, community college facility enhancements, and minority college improvements. All of this would be funded by increasing taxes on the “super-wealthy.”
The Plan’s Effect on Community College
Under Biden’s leadership, the new presidency is poised to have significant impacts on community colleges. Jumping on a similar train as previous POTUS Barack Obama’s 2015 proposal, Biden is pushing for free two-year community college initiatives. In partnership with the federal and state governments, the fed budget would cover 75% of the overall cost of this proposition, with the state covering the rest, which is already partly done. For recent grads, Dreamers, nontraditional students, and part-time attendees, college would be free. Students could use Pell Grants, state aid, other types of financial aid to handle anything beyond tuition and fees. Since much of this is already government-funded, it’s a matter of swapping funding sources.
With the income-based repayment program Biden has proposed, if you make under $25,000 a year, you wouldn’t have to pay on your undergraduate federal student loans or accrue interest on said loans. For those who don’t qualify for this, they would have to pay five percent of their discretionary income over $25,000. After twenty years, anyone who has made payments consistently would have the rest of their loan forgiven, untaxed.
Transforming Education Under Biden
Most government officials, including the POTUS, don’t understand what exactly goes on behind the scenes in education. But Joe Biden’s wife, Jill, is a former community college professor and is working hand-in-hand with the President-elect to fix a lot of foundational changes that could be transformative to education.
With additional funding to help encourage students to attend and graduate and focus on non-traditional students like veterans, single parents, students of color, and low-income students, there could be a reform of the entire economy on the horizon.
Community colleges are encouraging this change, even though it suggests major revisions in their budgets and essential tasks. From doubling Pell Grants to making community college free, Biden and those in the educational sector know that this is likely to be an expensive, controversial, but ultimately generational-shifting change in which Americans will be invested in on society-impacting levels.