Saturday, July 20, 2024

Latinos, College Affordability and the Next President

A recent study found that Latinos face great obstacles in their quest to acquire a college education. Barack Obama and John McCain both have plans that promise to make college more affordable and accessible. However, Barack Obama’s plan seems to address the unique circumstances Latinos face more effectively than John McCain’s…

Financing college education is a greater challenge for Latino students than other demographic of students across the nation, according to a study released by the University of California Los Angeles. According to the report, one in five Latino freshmen expressed major concern about the ability to pay compared with 8.6 percent of non-Latino freshmen in fall 2006.Although 60.2 percent of Caucasian students expressed at least some concern about their ability to pay for college, a greater proportion of Latino students were more likely to express such an opinion, with Mexican-American students being the most likely to express concern.

The report also shows financial assistance was among the top factors influencing Latino freshmen in their choice of a four-year college or university. Much of the concern comes from the income disparity between Latino households and non-Latino households, which has increased fourfold over the past three decades. “Studies like this are very important,” said Clifton Conrad, a University of Wisconsin professor of higher education and educational leadership. “They give us a window into equal educational opportunities across gender and ethnic lines.”

In addition to financial concerns, there is also a concern about the lack of Latino males entering four-year universities. Although the number of Latinos entering universities has increased in the past 30 years, the number of males has decreased from 57.4 percent in 1975 to 37 percent in 2006.

For Conrad, this trend is very disturbing. “As universities, we lose, too. Since we learn a lot from the people around us, when we have fewer differences on campus, we lose different perspectives, viewpoints and life experiences,” Conrad said. “From a whole university standpoint, the learning of all students decreases as well. If we’re serious about equal educational opportunities, this is a problem.”

The national data for the study “Advancing in Higher Education: A Portrait of Latino College Freshmen in Four-Year Institutions, 1975-2006,” came from the Cooperative Institutional Research Program’s annual freshmen survey, administered by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies.

This study makes clear that Latinos are greatly concerned about college affordability. In this election year when Latinos are expected to vote in large numbers this is definitely an issue that will be on their minds. Therefore it is important to be knowledgeable on where the candidates stand on this issue that is vital to the progress of the Latino community.

John McCain

“The answer is not to impose more regulations on institutions, but to encourage the government to support innovative approaches to education, removing regulatory barriers that prevent us from moving forward with new ideas.”

(According to his website

John McCain Higher Education Reform Includes the following:

Simplify Federal Financial Aid

Too many programs and a complicated application process deter many eligible students from seeking student aid. The number of programs also makes it more difficult for financial aid officers to help students navigate the process. Consolidating programs will help simplify the administration of these programs, and help more students have a better understanding of their eligibility for aid.

Improve Research by Eliminating Earmarks
Earmarking is destroying the integrity of federally funded research. Billions of dollars are spent on pork barrel projects every year; significant amounts come from research budgets. Eliminating earmarks would immediately and significantly improve the federal government’s support for university research.

Fix the Student Lending Programs
We have seen significant turmoil in student lending. John McCain has proposed an expansion of the lender-of-last resort capability of the federal student loan system and will demand the highest standard of integrity for participating private lenders. Effective reforms and leveraging the private sector will ensure the necessary funding of higher education aspirations, and create a simpler and more effective program in the process.

John McCain believes we should de-regulate the financial aid process and student loan process the same way we did with our banking and housing industries. However it is unclear whether he is willing to commit to increase funding or access to higher education. Furthermore this is an issue that John McCain rarely addresses in his speeches and his platform makes it appear that he is greatly out of touch with the struggles Latinos students face.

Barack Obama

For his part Barack Obama said:“Many young people have the talent to go to school, but can’t afford to be saddled with debt. College costs have gone up almost 40 percent in the last five years.I do not accept an America where you can’t achieve your potential because you can’t afford it; where 2 million qualified students will pass up college this decade because they can’t afford it.”

Create the American Opportunity Tax Credit: Obama and Biden will make college affordable for all Americans by creating a new American Opportunity Tax Credit. 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. Recipients of the credit will be required to conduct 100 hours of community service.

Simplify the Application Process for Financial Aid: Obama and Biden will streamline the financial aid process by eliminating the current federal financial aid application and enabling families to apply simply by checking a box on their tax form, authorizing their tax information to be used, and eliminating the need for a separate application.

Support College Credit Initiatives: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will create a national “Make College A Reality” initiative that has a bold goal to increase students taking AP or college-level classes nationwide 50 percent by 2016, and will build on Obama’s bipartisan proposal in the U.S. Senate to provide grants for students seeking college level credit at community colleges if their school does not provide those resources.

Support English Language Learners: Obama and Biden support transitional bilingual education and will help Limited English Proficient students get ahead by holding schools accountable for making sure these students complete school.

Barack Obama’s plan is more in tune with the needs of Latino students. His initiative to support English Language Learners is one which would directly benefit Latinos students who speak a second language. With programs such as the American Opportunity Tax Credit he also creates opportunities for young people to learn the value of community service while obtaining a college education. It is uncertain whether in the midst of a financial crisis he will be able to fund programs such as these but his plan addresses many of the needs and concerns of Latinos struggling to finance their college education. Barack Obama’s plan contains greater substance and detail than John McCain’s.This is an issue that Barack Obama has frequently mentioned in stump speeches.

John McCain’s lack of mention of this issue could account for the lack of support he has among young voters and Latino voters. In September The Washington, D.C.-based Rock the Vote, a political-advocacy group, conducted a poll that found that young people overwhelmingly support Barack Obama 56 to 29 percent. Meanwhile a new study of four key battleground states by the William C. Velasquez Institute (WCVI), a national Latino non-partisan public policy organization, found that if the election were held today, Latino voters would provide the margin of victory for democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama in Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico.

See full article:Latinos Struggling to Pay for College

Please see for yourself:

John McCain’s Education Plan

Barack Obama’s Education Plan