(From the Claire McCaskill campaign)
As Claire McCaskill continues her statewide "On Our Campus, On Our Side," statewide listening tour to discuss federal student loans, the differences between McCaskill and her opponent, Todd Akin, couldn't be clearer. While McCaskill, who used student loans and waited tables to pay her way through college, has fought to protect student loans, Akin has repeatedly compared federally-backed student loans to "Stage III cancer"
"When Todd Akin equates student loans to cancer it shows just how far outside Missouri's mainstream he really is, and it's a sobering reminder to Missouri families that he would not be a Senator on our side," said Erik Dorey, McCaskill for Missouri spokesman. "Todd Akin would put an end to federal student loans, giving the big banks the final say over who gets to go to college — and that would be a tragic shift in our character as a nation if kids from working families could no longer reasonably dream of grabbing that first rung of the economic ladder."
At a debate hosted by the University of Missouri College Republicans in April, Akin refused to support a plan to keep student loan rates affordable, saying he preferred a plan that would eliminate federal student loans and make for-profit institutions the only option for students who need financial aid to attend college or trade schools. Akin said at the debate that the government should not be in the student loan business, and went so far as to say that student loans were equivalent to "stage three cancer."
Since receiving his party's nomination for the Senate, Akin has not walked back on his comments, telling the Springfield News Leader in August, "I called a spade a spade." Just last week, Akin told National Journal that he stood by his earlier remarks.
In reality, without loan guarantees from the federal government, such a proposal would cause big banks and for-profit institutions to lend only to students with previous credit history or families with the means to pay for college outright, making it impossible for most low income and middle class families to pay for college.
As Missouri's Senator, Claire's made affordable higher education a top priority and has been a strong advocate for students and middle class families. In 2007, she introduced and passed long overdue legislation that increased the number and value of Pell Grants. She also passed a measure that provides loan forgiveness to public school teachers after 10 years on the job.
VIDEO: Akin Supported Eliminating Federal Support for Affordable Student Loans, Compared Student Loan Program to Stage III Cancer. During a debate hosted by the Missouri College Republicans in April 2012, Akin was asked whether or not he would support legislation that would prevent student loan interest rates from doubling for 7.4 million college students. Akin responded that the federal government should get out of the student loan business altogether, and compared the government's support for student loans to stage III cancer. "America has got the equivalent of the Stage III cancer of socialism because the federal government is tampering in all kinds of stuff it has no business tampering in," said Akin. "The government needs to get its nose out of the education business." [Missouri College Republicans Senate Candidate Debate, 4/21/12]
Akin Called For End To Federal Student Loans, Compared Government Involvement To "Stage Three Cancer." Reported the Columbia Tribune in April 2012, "The candidates also were asked about their stance on the federal student loan interest rate, which will double to 6.8 percent July 1 without Congressional action. . . . Akin said the government should be out of the student loan market altogether. 'America has got the equivalent of the stage three cancer of socialism because the federal government is tampering in all kinds of stuff it has no business tampering in,' he said." [Columbia Tribune, 4/22/12]
Akin Said That He Would Eliminate the Department of Education. Speaking at a Republican debate in Branson in January 2012, Akin said that he would vote to eliminate the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Energy. As reported by the Associated Press, "Asked what federal agencies they would like to eliminate, Akin and Steelman said they supported getting rid of the U.S. Department of Education. Akin also cited the Department of Commerce as an 'incredibly mettlesome' agency ripe for elimination along with the Department of Energy though he said its supervision of the nation's nuclear stockpile was important enough that the duty would need to be carried out by some other agency." [Associated Press, 1/31/12]
Federal Student Loans and Pell Grants Are Funded Through and Administered by the Department of Education. "The U.S. Department of Education awards about $150 billion a year in grants, work-study funds, and low-interest loans to more than 14 million students. Federal student aid covers such expenses as tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and transportation. Aid also can help pay for other related expenses, such as a computer and dependent care. Thousands of schools across the country participate in the federal student aid programs. [FederalStudentAid.ed.gov]
More Than 185,000 Students in Missouri Have Federal Student Loans. According to the U.S. Department of Education, 185,230 students in Missouri received Federal student loans during the 2011-2012 school year. [FederalStudentAid.ed.gov]