Dear Commons Community,
Hillary Clinton as part of her platform to promote “debt-free college” unveiled a calculator at her website that can be used to see specifically what an individual student would save. As reported by The Chronicle of Higher Education:
“Mrs. Clinton’s plan would cover tuition at public colleges for students from families making up to $125,000 a year. She also discussed her proposals for easing the burden on existing borrowers, who could refinance their loans, among other things. And she gave out the web address for a calculator her campaign had recently unveiled to help those in either group “see how our college plan will actually help you. Not in general, but really specifically.”
Some supporters who had tuned in to the speech took her up on an offer to use the tool to see how much they could save. The calculator has two components: “I have student debt” and “I am planning for college.” Users have the opportunity to share their results on social media. Tweets using the website’s boilerplate language — “Under Hillary Clinton’s debt-free college plan, I will save,” followed by a dollar amount — popped up on Twitter as Mrs. Clinton was talking. (Users can also post their results on Facebook.)
The Chronicle spoke with a handful of Clinton supporters who tweeted their calculator results, which varied drastically. While all of them were happy to see how the plan could save them money, some also saw shortcomings in Mrs. Clinton’s approach.
The tool is designed to show users their potential savings quickly and easily. But student-loan policies always come with some fine print, and someone who looks at the tool for only a minute or two could easily miss details.
And like all such calculators, the estimates on Mrs. Clinton’s are only as accurate as the information that users provide. The savings current borrowers will see, for instance, depend on their existing interest rates and years left in repayment. Getting those numbers wrong would skew their results.”
Regardless, I give Clinton credit for being creative in assisting students to understand what her policy would mean for them.