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Get Educated on the Candidate's Higher Ed Proposals

Get Educated on the Candidate's Higher Ed Proposals

An educated population benefits an entire country. Thus, both John McCain and Barack Obama have plans to make college degrees more affordable. Both candidates reach for that goal with drastically different plans.

The AP analyzed the proposals, finding that Obama's are more detailed, and expansive, while McCain's are generalized and call for the elimination of pork-barrel university research projects. Both want to simplify financial aid. To see key points from the candidate's proposals,



  • New Program: Obama would provide most students up to $4,000 a year in tax credits for college, in return for 100 hours of community service. Obama's education proposals are paid for by cutting other federal programs, contracting, and procurement reform, and by eliminating spending on special Congressmember projects.
  • Student Grants: Obama pledges that Pell grants, which go to families with incomes under $50,000, will ''keep pace'' with increases in the cost of college. Pell grants used to cover half of tuition cost, now they cover about one-third.
  • Student Loans: Right now the government provides student loans directly, and subsidizes private lenders. Obama proposes moving the whole student loan system to direct-government loans, instead of subsidizing private lenders, too.


  • New Program: McCain does not propose any new program, citing existing spending pressures. McCain would simplify existing tax benefits, which many eligible families don’t claim, in order to ensure that more families have lower tax burdens when they are helping to send their children to college.
  • Student Grants: McCain would only consider raising Pell awards if there is a pressing need and the budget allows.
  • Student Loans: He supports the dual system of government and private loans. Supporters of the dual system argue it provides competition, which helps students. They also say the government could not administer the full program. (But thanks to the credit crisis, the government has propped up the private lending portion, so the parallel programs already are merging.)

Check out Obama's Education Plan and McCain's Education Plan in their entirety. Even though public colleges and universities fall under the jurisdiction of individual states, which candidate do you think represents your view of a proper national government approach to higher education?


Join The Conversation
stephley stephley 8 years
There ARE places where self-taught lawyers can practice (I believe California has a process for self-teaching apprenticeships), though I think most if not all states require a degree to take the bar. I'd be curious about the careers of modern day self-taught lawyers. And when we're considering education plans for this country, it would be a serious mistake to make self-teaching an equivalent of a college education.
melizzle melizzle 8 years
Time out. Settle down now... :) I think the point Mich is trying to make that somehow got lost in this thread is that there should be no law requiring collegiate education for certain professions... that a self-taught lawyer should be able to practice, should s/he pass the bar exam. Makes sense to me. Time in.
amber2sky amber2sky 8 years
I'm just saying that without critical thinking skills, you don't know WHICH books to choose to read. Thus, you might not really choose the books that are written by experts. And, in my field (psychology), the books that are written for the general masses are dumbed down versions of what is happening in the field, anyway. No one could become a researcher, a scientist, or a clinical psychologist by reading mass-produced books. Of course there are fields you can learn by doing -- plumbing, building, etc -- but many jobs require higher education along with practical experience (internships). The bottom line: college should be affordable to those who are accepted.
Michelann Michelann 8 years
Steph, I'm well aware of some of the problems you mentioned. But there are many problems with college, too. I just don't think college is the answer for everything, there are other systems that could work wonderfully that are being blocked because of certain laws and the system that we already work within. And I think I made it pretty clear that reading can't teach you everything. That's why I think people should learn by doing, which just doesn't happen very often in college.
stephley stephley 8 years
Mich, you should try putting your self-education theory into practice. It's not as easy as you think it is to get yourself up to speed to be allowed to put your self-taught theories into practice, it's not easy to find experts who are willing to actually work with you and teach you rather than take you on as an 'apprentice' and use you like a slave/personal assistant. Many companies that have internship programs have gotten in trouble for keeping the interns to the most menial tasks without pay - I created classes at one place because I realized none of the interns were learning anything that would be useful in a real job. Many apprentices end up leaving jobs without recommendations because they get sick of the boss taking credit for their work or blaming the apprentice for their mistakes. It's not ingratitude on the student's part, or laziness - a lot of experts and bosses are real dicks, and they're even worse when money or recognition are at stake. Reading can't make you an expert - there are plenty of great students who suck on the job.
organicsugr organicsugr 8 years
For eight hundred years, have I trained Jedi. My own counsel will I keep on who is to be trained. Taught many Jedi, I have. Learn of the force on their own, they must. The answer, tuition subsidies are not.
Michelann Michelann 8 years
Amber, "self-educated" doesn't mean you have to learn everything by yourself. You can still learn from experts, and learn by reading the works of experts. It just means you're taking the initiative and deciding what you need to learn. "i think education would be LEAST effective when trying to educate yourself." Education is only effective when you're trying to educate yourself. Certainly you can have people guide you through certain subjects (which is what happens in college) but you must still do the actual learning yourself.
amber2sky amber2sky 8 years
we simply can't learn everything by ourselves. you are in college to learn from experts. i would take geniuses to learn their respective fields by themselves, without any type of help from others. i think education would be LEAST effective when trying to educate yourself. one of the main points of college is to be guided through the process of critical thinking. it's difficult to teach oneself to think objectively and clearly.
Michelann Michelann 8 years
I also don't like this whole 'most people aren't willing to put in the effort to self-educate' argument. Why are we excusing laziness? If you think we need educated people in order for this country to be successful, I don't understand why it's okay for people to be apathetic about education. If you're not the kind of person who will self-educate, then you're not the kind of person who will be able to help make this country successful.
Michelann Michelann 8 years
Mydiadem, I'm not sure how advocating self-education would make me like Obama's education plan more. Is there something specific in it that I should identify with?
mydiadem mydiadem 8 years
People in general don't have the motivations to educate themselves in a way that would be impactful on the entire workforce/economy. Institutional education is a best attempt at getting the masses up to a certain skill level. It is kind of crap that I can't be a manager at my company without an MBA, I could teach half of the MBA classes based on my work experience, but that piece of paper is necessary. I'm not complaining, that's just the way it is. And if we (as Americans) aren't beefing up our resumes there are lots of others around the world that will jump at the chance to take our jobs. That being said, just generally, this is EXACTLY what I like about Obama and why I'm voting for him. He has concrete, fleshed out, well articulated plans on all the major issues I'm concerned about on his website. I love that! For those of you that advocate self-education this should be something you also appreciate. I have seen nothing comparable on the McCain side. All I hear are vague answers, sound bites about 'change' and 'experience'. The only well documented plan I've really gotten from McCain is his healthcare plan which is SOO bad IMO. More content, less talk please.
sexylibrarian sexylibrarian 8 years
I have always said that college changes you, and changes the way you think about the world and the people in it. We do not live in a society where self education is the norm. Yes it would be nice if people were ambitious enough to educate themselves. Most people are not. The point of the post is comparing the two candidates education plan. One candidate seems to have put some thought into their plan the other one not so much. In fact Obama's first bill in congress to increase the amount of the Pell grant. An education is very important.
Michelann Michelann 8 years
You have a very different idea of how self-education works than I do. It's a far more practical method. Furthermore, self-education is not slower. It eliminates the unnecessary and allows for more tailored education. If it's more 'difficult', it's because you have to actually put effort into it, and really think about what you're learning and what you'll need to know. It's not like school, where you just make sure you have certain facts memorized because they'll be on the test. "unless someone is financing your quest for self enlightenment, you're going to have to stop to earn money to pay for the tools you need" How is that any different from school? Now if you do it based on an apprenticeship, you have employment AND education in one package. You're offering a valuable service while acquiring the tools you need to someday be an expert in the field.
stephley stephley 8 years
Do you really want to send the U.S. into the future with self-educators? Because the people we'll be competing with are going to school. And being tested, judged, rated. And yes, you can get a good education working by yourself, but it takes longer than four years and, unless someone is financing your quest for self enlightenment, you're going to have to stop to earn money to pay for the tools you need. It definitely is the more difficult and risky way to go.
Michelann Michelann 8 years
Supercharger, if you put in the time and study, you can get a great education whether you go to college or not.
supercharger5150 supercharger5150 8 years
You only get out of college what you put in... IMO. You put in the time and study, you'll get a great education no matter where you go or how pricy it is. If you do nothing but drink on the other hand... :( Obama's education plan is why I chose to back him over Hillary. It's in my top 3 important issues. I think that it just shouldn't cost so much to try and better yourself.
Michelann Michelann 8 years
Yes, sometimes people can succeed without college, but I think you know better than to suggest that it's common. Certainly having some knowledge of your chosen field before you go to work is useful, but that's why I suggest things like apprenticeships. If you talk to people in most fields, the newcomers have to be trained to do just about everything anyway. I'm not saying college is completely useless, I just think it's silly how reliant we've become on it as a society. It has some value, but not nearly as much value as we think it does. It doesn't make sense to me to spend massive amounts of money sending every person to college. Instead, I think we need to reevaluate whether that is truly the best way to educate and train people.
stephley stephley 8 years
We do allow some self-educated people to succeed. In my own field, Peter Jennings was a perfect example. He dropped out of high school; his father was a respected Canadian journalist, but Peter would have washed out fast without his own curiosity, work ethic and talents. But starting out with at least some background knowledge, best provided in a collegiate setting, sets a basic standard, evens the field a bit, and keeps those already on the job from having to reinvent the wheel with each newcomer. If you're so down on college, you might want to ask yourself if you've chosen the right major or the right college.
liliblu liliblu 8 years
Mich you'll be surprised one day when you realize how much you learned in college. I'm not trying to be condescending. Absorb and embrace it all.
Michelann Michelann 8 years
And that's why I think it's so ridiculous that we don't allow people to succeed when they are self-educated. There are plenty of highly intelligent people who are not able to afford college. I think they should be able to do things (like practice law) regardless of their ability to pay thousands of dollars to get a degree.
stephley stephley 8 years
And yet, unless we somehow make a college education affordable in these difficult economic times, many young Americans will have no choice but to skip college and get to work. Careful what you wish for.
Michelann Michelann 8 years
I would love to drop out and get to work, but it's not that simple.
Michelann Michelann 8 years
Steph, there are laws that say I can't "get to work" in my chosen profession without that sheet of paper. So the piece of paper is very valuable to me. The education that is supposedly represented by that paper? I could get it without college.
stephley stephley 8 years
You reveal far more than you think. If you think it's all about the paper, drop out and get to work. Let me know how it goes.
Michelann Michelann 8 years
Most people learn close to nothing about their career in college. They learn once they start their careers. Apprenticeships make far more sense for most careers than college ever could.
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