President Barack Obama’s charred electoral firewall strategy almost certainly includes getting out the youth vote.
Voters under 30 pining for hope and change proved critical to Obama’s 2008 victory. That year, fully two-thirds of voters under age 30 voted for Obama, according to the Pew Research Center.
The Obama camp is pulling out all the stops to make sure these same voters get to the polls again, and vote for him again.
The Department of Education adopted a new “pay-as-you-earn” loan repayment plan Thursday, just five days before the Nov. 6 election.
The plan, which will cost taxpayers $2.1 billion over the next decade, is designed to ease the financial burden of student loan borrowers. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the new rules are aimed at new graduates having difficulty making enough money to repay their student loans.
In addition, the new “pay-as-you-earn” scheme makes the existing “income-based repayment plan” applicable to more people with student loans.
Under both the pay-as-you-earn and income-based plans, payments are calculated to accommodate the income of each borrower.
Any debt remaining after 20 years will be negated for students who stick out financial difficulty under the pay-as-you-earn plan. Previously, under the income-based repayment plan, it had taken 25 years to cancel remaining debt.
A borrower with $26,000 in student debt and an annual income of $30,000 could expect to owe $110 per month under the new pay-as-you-earn regulations, notes the Post-Dispatch. The income-based repayment would require a payment of $166 from the same borrower
Only borrowers who took out their first student loans after September 30, 2007 and at least one loan after September 30, 201 qualify for the pay-as-you-earn plan.
Obama will also reach out directly to what should be a friendly crowd when he visits Madison, Wis. for a Monday, Nov. 5 rally at the University of Wisconsin. The rally, his second in a month at the school, will feature senior citizen mega-rocker Bruce Springsteen, according to Yahoo! News.
Former President Bill Clinton has also been on (or at least near) the campaign trail, making the case for Obama based on student loans.
At the University of Central Florida on Monday, Clinton told a group of students they should support Obama based on nothing more than Obama’s policies on student debt, The Hill reported.
Clinton praised one of Obama’s reforms that limited the role of banks in the student loan process.
“Every single person after next year that gets a college loan from the federal government, a federal loan, can pay that loan back as your choice as a small fixed percentage of your income for twenty years,” Clinton told the UCF crowd.
On the other hand, Clinton charged, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney would tie increases in funding for Pell grants to increases in inflation.
“He wants to make college loans more expensive and harder to repay. On this issue alone every person within the sound of my voice should vote for Barack Obama,” Clinton said.
A Romney spokesperson refuted the charge.
“With only half of new graduates able to find work that uses their degrees in the Obama economy, it’s clear that we can’t afford four more years like the last four,” Romney spokesperson Amanda Henneberg said in a statement.
“Governor Romney is offering real change for a real recovery, and will focus on affordable higher education options and a strong economy that gives every American the opportunity to succeed.”