Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley was in a college town so he pivoted right into college debt during an Aug. 29 visit to Iowa State University.
“We saddled our next generation of college graduates with a mountain of debt to the likes of which no other nation on the planet does,” O’Malley said.
“What does it say about us that you can borrow money for a home at lower interest rates than you can finance your kids’ college education? That is why I put out a plan to make a debt-free college degree a universal option for every family within five years and to increase time for degree attainment by 25 percent within the next 10 years as well.”
O’Malley has said he wants to increase state funding for Pell grants and funding to public universities. He has also called for lowering interest rates, so students can afford their loans.
O’Malley’s stop in Ames marked the first time he has met with Iowa State University students during his bid for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination. He made the rounds during the last weekend of August, carrying the same message to the University of Iowa in Iowa City as well. He also spoke over weekend at Grinnell College, the #UniteIowa immigration summit in Storm Lake and a meet-and-greet in Sheldon.
“I know that those of you who are Iowans take your responsibility very, very seriously and you insist on meeting each of us, two, three, four, five, six or seven times before you make a decision,” O’Malley told supporters in Ames.
“Affordable college education, making it debt-free was such a big thing for me,” said Evan Abramsky, junior in political science and leader of Cyclones for Martin O’Malley. “I am saddled with debt like most students at Iowa State, so I know down the road students shouldn’t have to face that.”
While in Ames, O’Malley said he plans to pursue policy that will cut youth unemployment in half by advancing national service as an option for every American kid.
“There’s a lot of work to do, but the great news is there is no nation on the planet better capable of accomplishing this work than we are,” O’Malley said, adding that America should not look at this as a challenge that cannot be overcome, but as an opportunity.