The verdict on the candidates’ plans for education: no change

Call me a pessimist, but I don’t think anything will change. President Bush has a plan, according to his website, “to ensure that every high school student graduates and is ready for the workplace or college” by earmarking hundreds of millions to education for the next fiscal year. Pell Grants, of which I am a recipient, will increase a whopping $400 by 2005. His plan would like to see an increase in overall financial aid for all students, including loans.

According to the New York Times, Pell Grants 25 years ago covered 80 percent of public school aid. Today it covers 40 percent. For me at UM it covers a little over 10 percent. Another part of his plan is to make college more affordable by reducing interest rates, increasing loan limits and expanding repayment options. This does not sound right to me. If you extend the life of your loan with a lower interest rate and pay less in monthly installments, doesn’t that come out to be about the same as it was before?

If you think Kerry is better, think again. He wants to “offer a fully refundable College Opportunity Tax credit on up to $4,000 of tuition for every year of college and offer aid to states that keep tuitions down,” according to his website. How about just giving me that money in the form of a grant? What if the state has to increase the costs to take care of a system that may need to be upgraded which can lead to a tuition increase? What would Kerry do then?

These “improvements” all sound good to those that want to hear it, but where is the money going to come from to pay for all of this “goodwill” for students? In case you haven’t heard, there is a little country called Iraq we need to take care of, and it is siphoning money from taxpayers like a baby sucking on a bottle. We also experienced a few hurricanes over the past few months, and you know it costs a pretty penny to cover those damages.

In other words, when it comes to education, be prepared for absolutely no change in the next four years.

Vontilla Steven can be contacted at