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On The Campaign Trail: Barack Obama on Financial Aid

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June 23, 2008 by Mara Strom

A few weeks ago, I mentioned the brouhaha that was brewing between Barack Obama and John McCain over the Democrats’ proposal to fully fund scholarships for 3-year veterans. Well, that’s not the only financial aid issue making its way onto the ’08 campaign trail with the presumed Presidential candidates.

We know that figuring out how to pay for college is probably the bane of your existence, but what do the candidates think about financial aid? Here’s a look at what Obama says on the subject (and before anyone freaks out, we’ll be talking about McCain next week. Stay tuned!)

On Tax Credits For Students

Obama says he would give anyone paying college tuition a $4,000 tax credit to help cover their higher education costs. His campaign estimates that the program would cost $10 billion a year. Here’s a bit more from his website:

This universal and fully refundable credit will ensure that the first $4,000 of a college education is completely free for most Americans, and will cover two-thirds the cost of tuition at the average public college or university and make community college tuition completely free for most students. Obama will also ensure that the tax credit is available to families at the time of enrollment by using prior year’s tax data to deliver the credit when tuition is due.

On The High Cost of Student Loans
Obama says he’s more than sympathetic to the burden of student loans, because both he and his wife Michelle struggled to pay back their mountain of Sallie Mae debt after graduating from Columbia (Barack), Princeton (Michelle) and Harvard Law (both of them).

“…We left school with a mountain of debt,” Obama told Michigan residents at a campaign event earlier this month.

“Michelle I know had at least $60,000. I had at least $60,000, so when we got together we had a lot of loans to pay. In fact, we did not finish paying them off until probably we’d been married for at least eight years, maybe nine.”

Between his statements about his own educational background, his proposal for a tuition tax credit and his support for full scholarships to veterans, Obama is definitely giving college voters an idea about where he stands on some of their bread and butter issues.

What do you think about what he has to offer? How important are issues like financial aid, access to student loans and veteran education benefits to you when you go into the voting booth this November?

Photo Credit: Flickr/Center for American Progress Action Fund

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