Why It Matters

By Ashley Benavidez

I’ve seen my peers hold their head in their hands, stressing, wondering how they would ever be able to afford that tuition bill. I, myself, have lain awake during sleepless nights, trying to devise some plan to come up with a way to make ends meet, as recent as last month. It’s funny, they never failed to tell us as often as they could to go to college, but they never mentioned the debt that comes with it.

Many students can relate to the financial struggle that comes with a college education, and if you thought college was borderline unaffordable now, it could get worse pending the result of this 2012 Presidential Election. I cannot stress how absolutely vital it is for each and every last person to vote to ensure our opportunity to receive or continue to receive a quality education.

I can tell you that both Presidential candidates agree something must be done to stop the increasing costs of college education. However, one candidates’ approach may be more appealing to you as a student voter. Are you currently reliant on the Federal Perkins Loan Program? Is a significant amount of your tuition being covered by the Pell Grant? According to Sandy Turnquist, Director of Financial Aid, 76% of our students at Finlandia rely on the Pell Grant to pay for their tuition. Over 100 students are currently in the work-study program and rely on that income to support themselves and pay toward their education.

The expansions of all of these programs have been proposed by President Obama, whom, at one point in his life, relied on government financial aid; scholarships, student loans, grants and student jobs to be able to afford the post-secondary education that enables him to serve as the President of the United States on this very day.

Mitt Romney has proposed making eligibility for the Pell Grant more restricted. Mitt Romney and his wife have described themselves as “struggling students” during the college days, having sustained themselves during that time by “chipping away at” a stock investment that was worth $60,000 in 1969 dollars (about $377,000) today. Neither of them worked during their college years.

The first Presidential debate was held the night of October 3, 2012. During this debate, Obama expressed his interest and support in making college education more affordable multiple times.

“…It’s how we’re going to grow the economy in the long run,” said President Obama.

Romney claimed he’d like to return more money to the individual states to initiate education reform in an effort to eliminate schools “not getting the job done”. Thus, the states would have the power to increase tuition rates. Romney, whose infamous “47 percent” video was virally leaked a few weeks ago, also referred to the low-income students as “poor kids,” although he did hastily correct himself. It’s alright, Mitt, we know we’re broke.

I can say that the only reason I’m still here, even able to share this information through this article right now is because I was able to acquire the Federal Perkins Loan. It mind boggles me to think there’s a possibility that and other funds could be eliminated pending the result of this 2012 Presidential Election.

My education has always been and will always be my first priority and of the highest significance, because for me and so many others like me, it’s the only way out. It’s the sole path I must tread in order to break a long chain of middle-lower income generations before me. My parents have cemented that in my head since before I ever set foot on a campus. “School first” “Get your education, and you can do anything” “Education is the only way” So, I’ve always strived to utilize everything I was taught in the classroom, and I’m proud of where it’s taken me, but I still have a long way to go. This “poor kid” aspires to be a productive, participating member of society one day, as a writer/journalist. For the sake of that dream, I’m voting for President Obama.

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One Response to Why It Matters

  1. Brynna Laidler Reply

    February 6, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    Good words, very strong article and it is easy to relate too. I have to agree on these topics because not many people see the importance of voting and aren’t as involved; but need to be because it affects our future.

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