CNBC’s “College Voices 2020” is a series of CNBC Fall Interns from universities across the country about growing up, college education, and getting started in these extraordinary times. Colette Ngo is a senior at Chapman University.
Young voters are excited, and research shows they will be a crucial factor in the 2020 elections. And they clearly have a lot at stake: They are entering the world of work in one of the most brutal economies since the Great Depression.
“In the next president we need a leader who will recalibrate this nation’s ethical and moral compass and work to repair damaged domestic and international relationships while properly representing the country and the diversity that this country is made of the global stage, “said Jaden Cody, a student at Morehouse College and director of Get on the Bus, an initiative that aimed to” empower young black men to take back their narrative. ”
Jaden Cody, Morehouse College
Source: Jaden Cody
Students are expected to achieve record numbers in this election. By doing Harvard Youth Poll63% of respondents said they will “definitely vote”, up from 47% in 2016. More than seven million young peopleThe 18 to 29-year-olds voted early or absent in the 2020 elections.
With the economy being a top voting problem, young voters want to know what the future holds for them. Will they be able to find a job in a post-pandemic economy? Will they be able to get affordable health care if they deviate from their parents’ plans?
Here are some of the economic issues that several undergraduate and graduate students said are important to them:
Most of the students expressed concerns about the availability of affordable health care. The Affordable Care Act provided health insurance to more than 20 million Americans and has narrowed the gaps in access to health care between black and Hispanic adults. However, ACA’s future is at risk.
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Several students expressed concern about President Trump’s plans to replace Obamacare, leaving insurance companies competing for customers. Many advocated Joe Biden’s plan to build on the Affordable Care Act.
“I urge our next President to create a health system that does not leave the millions of people in need of the Affordable Care Act stranded and without access to adequate medical care, especially those living in pre-existing conditions “said Terrence Bourgeois Jr., an honorary student at Xavier University.
“How is it that we can be one of the greatest nations in the world but not be able to provide affordable health care to everyone who needs it?” asked Ashley Halter, a graduate student at Ohio State University.
Ashley Halter, Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business
Source: Ashley Halter
Halter, who also serves as the business operations coordinator at James Cancer Hospital, said she saw patients issue stimulus checks on things that others normally wouldn’t, like therapy.
“I think of the people here who do chemo twice a week and get their health care full. And they pay a lot of these things out of their own pocket. And when the stimulus comes, you know it goes to their third treatment,” said Halter . “I want every American to have a health care option.”
Students say health care and race issues are directly correlated as Obamacare has worked to narrow the racial gap. A study by the Commonwealth Fund Five years after the ACA was launched, black adults living in states that expanded Medicaid reported coverage rates and access to care as good or better than those reported by white adults in non-expanding states. If the ACA is taken away, millions of Americans will be left without health insurance, which in turn can exacerbate the racial wealth gap.
“Health inequality really affects African Americans and people of color in this country,” said Cody. “To me, a conversation about the health of the economy has a lot to do with the health of the people who are going to get that economy moving too.”
Jordan Centry, MBA student at University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School and class president of the MBA Student Associationbrought up the fact that the economy will be fine when the stock market recovers from its losses in 2020. However, wealth inequality continues to grow and affects low-income color communities most severely.
Jordan Centry, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School
Source: Jordan Centry
“The pandemic has a disproportionately negative impact on blacks and further limits our ability to invest in securities,” said Centry.
Young voters believe it is important that the next president fill the racial wealth gap. Brionna Bryant, a graduate student at Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business pursuing a career in forensic accounting, suggested that the next government should create initiatives that directly promote equality across the economy.
“I would particularly like to see action taken on the pay gap, access to capital / credit [and] Homeownership, “said Bryant.
Brionna Bryant, Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business
Source: Brionna Bryant
Student debt is one of the most serious problems affecting college students, and repayment can seem like a never-ending process. In the US, student loan debt is the second largest category of consumer debt after mortgage debt. Currently there are 42 million student borrowers, and the average balance is $ 30,000. As interest rates rise over time, student debts pile up, creating an “inescapable hole for many people financially,” Bourgeois said.
The student debt crisis hits minorities and women hardest. Black graduates, on average, owe something $ 7,400 more on student loans than their white counterparts. Additionally, Women hold two thirds on the country’s student debt and borrow an average of $ 3,000 more than men to go to college.
Additionally, the return on investment for a college degree dwindles as the chance of getting a job – and one that pays off – after graduation decreases. At the same time, the cost of going to college increases.
“Education is a privilege not just in the United States but around the world. I wish it wasn’t a privilege,” said Halter. “I wish education was an opportunity every single American had access to.”
Many young voters advocate free education at the community college level. They also hope that over the next four years there will be programs to lend or lower the interest rate on student debt, such as: Morehouse College Student Brandon White, first elected and currently undecided.
“To resolve this, the president may need to work with third-party educators to provide education at a cheaper price. This guarantees that students receive an education regardless of their socioeconomic status,” said White, a student at Morehouse College and a Intern at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
Brandon White, Morehouse College
Source: Brandon White
There’s also the issue of equal funding for school districts, and how that affects the student pipeline from high school to college. Schools that lack funding sometimes cannot provide the same education as schools that receive funding, Bryant said. This can lead to lower GPAs from students, which then hamper the possibility of college entry even though they cannot even afford a higher education.
“Education system improvement must start with K-12. Ensure that all students, regardless of social class, have access to resources,” said Bryant. “The next president can improve the education system by freeing the community college and creating pipeline programs for four-year institutions.
College students find themselves in one of the worst recessions in history with high unemployment and lower incomes compared to those who graduated in previous years. The current unemployment rate is 8% compared to the natural unemployment rate of around 5%. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, youth unemployment between the ages of 16 and 24 is even worse, at 13.5%.
With unprecedented mass layoffs and hiring freezes across the country, students are likely to compete with candidates with more work experience. Some industries, such as restaurants, tourism and hospitality have been turned upside down – graduates may be forced to move on from their dream jobs to something more realistic.
“I think the president should consider expansionary fiscal policies and increase government spending, which will lead to higher employment,” said Centry.
Many students will find it difficult to find a job after graduation and their student loans will come due within a few months. You need a job and access to health care. You have experienced so much racial injustice and inequality and are outraged. They want to know that they have a leader who will help improve the economy they are graduating in and make it a place of opportunity not just for the few, but for everyone.
“My biggest concern for 2021 is not having the leadership in office that protects all women and their choices, nurtures color communities by reducing disparities and inequalities, growing the economy, and driving America forward,” said Bryant.
Ohio State University and Morehouse College students will be part of CNBC’s special election night coverage. Tune in on Tuesday, November 3rd, starting at 7 p.m. ET to learn more about what’s important to these young voters.
Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.