Op−Ed | Elizabeth Warren will fight for students
Published: Thursday, November 1, 2012
Updated: Thursday, November 1, 2012 08:11
With less than a week to go before Election Day, the race for U.S. Senate between Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown (LA ’81) remains extremely close. Television ads and radio spots are currently flooding Massachusetts in an attempt to influence voters, but we should focus on how both candidates have voted or plan to vote on crucial issues in the U.S. Senate. Education is one of these issues. The decisions the U.S. government makes regarding student loans, Pell Grants and work−study affect the entire Tufts community, whether we are originally from Massachusetts or not. Elizabeth Warren will look out for the interests of students, and has made college affordability one of her top issues.
Warren is best known as a consumer advocate and for her work launching the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Created in response to the recent financial crisis, the Bureau seeks to implement financial reform to stop rising consumer debt, which includes debt from the rising cost of a college education. The Financial Aid Shopping Sheet is an effective tool the Bureau created to help students compare the cost of education at different schools, along with what loans are available to them and how much they will owe after graduation. In addition, the Bureau has initiated a student loan complaint system to ensure that private lenders do not exploit students. Warren’s role as a top advisor to the Obama administration during the bureau’s creation was pivotal to its success.
Senator Scott Brown, on the other hand, has not shown a commitment to students and in several cases has voted against our interests. This past March, Brown voted for a budget bill that would have cut $5.7 billion from Pell Grant funding, almost 25 percent of its funding. In addition, Brown also voted against the Stop the Student Loan Interest Rate Hike Act of 2012. Had the Senate not passed a bill later in June to stop the increase, this “nay” vote could have meant a jump in the student loan interest rate for subsidized Stafford loans to 6.8 percent — double what the rate is currently. To put that into perspective, 40 to 50 percent of Tufts undergraduates would have been affected by the rate hike, according to a Daily article published on Sept. 20 of this year entitled, “Obama releases financial aid guide.”
Brown later voted for the bill that eventually passed and stopped the interest rate hike, but his failure to support the first two proposals demonstrates a lack of commitment to students. During his reelection campaign, Brown has largely stayed quiet on education. His campaign website fails to mention student loans or education on his “on the issues” page. In contrast, Warren has stated she would have voted differently than Senator Brown on both the budget bill and the Stop the Student Loan Interest Rate Hike Act of 2012. The first issue on her campaign website is education, and she details a comprehensive strategy to improve both public education and college affordability in many of her campaign and debate appearances. When Brown does mention education, it is often in response to Warren’s stances. But rather than detailing an alternate plan to manage college costs and education, Brown instead points to Warren’s salary as a professor as “one of the driving forces behind the high costs of education.” As a Warren campaign spokesperson countered, “Scott Brown would rather attack Elizabeth than defend his votes to cut Pell Grants and allow interest rates to go up on student loans. Attacking Elizabeth is not going to make college more affordable.”
I encourage everyone to look in to the candidates’ stances on issues that are important to you and decide which candidate shares your views. For me, I know government assistance in the form of Stafford loans, Pell Grants and work−study is what makes affording college possible for me and many of my peers. I want a Senator who will protect these opportunities so they don’t disappear on my next financial aid award, and that is why I support Elizabeth Warren for the United States Senate.
Bridget Boyle is a sophomore majoring in international relations. She can be reached at Bridget.Boyle@tufts.edu.