Despite the relatively small amount of time spent on issues of higher education in the presidential debates, a survey by the National Education Association shows that many voters, especially college students and their parents, consider college costs to be one of the main issues in the upcoming presidential election.
Thirty-four percent of college students and parents of college students polled consider college affordability the single most important issue of the 2008 election. 70 percent of parents and 65 percent of students said that it was important that the next president making it easier for families to pay for school. Additionally, the vast majority of those surveyed said that a college education is fast becoming a necessity, yet also espoused a belief that attending college is more of a financial burden now than it was 10 years ago.
Each candidate addressed educational policy directly in last night's debate, after touching on parts of their plans briefly in previous debates. Senator McCain's proposal for college affordability centers around shoring up the federal student loan system and making it easier for students to borrow what they need from the government, especially through the FFEL program. He also put an emphasis on expanding the role of community colleges in training displaced workers. Senator Obama, on the other hand, favors a $4,000 higher education tax credit for families to help with tuition costs, as well as efforts to improve college access and reduce students' student loan burdens, stressing the fact that many students alter their career goals due to debt.
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