College students ask why Clinton, Trump aren\'t talking about student debt

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COLUMBIA - The 2016 Presidential Election is less than two weeks away, and after months of campaigning, some voters are asking why the topic of student debt has been so absent among the candidates' conversations.

While both Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton have noted student debt as an issue of concern on their campaign sites, the matter has made very few appearances at the forefront of either campaign.

According to Nick Prewett, Director of Financial Aid at the University of Missouri, with the national student loan debt around $1.3 trillion dollars and gradually increasing annually, the lack of conversation has not gone unnoticed.

"I think we've kind of seen it come up in the national scene a couple of times this year, but we haven't really seen any substantial plans regarding student loan debt," Prewett said.

The average MU student graduates with around $21,000 dollars of student loan debt; slightly less than the national average of $31,000, he said. On average, MU students pays around $289 dollars a month towards student loan debt upon graduation.

Jordan McFarland, a MU senior, said he is frustrated by the relative silence surrounding debt.

"Education hasn't been brought up really at all in this general election campaign and it's sad. It goes to show you that we to need to bring it up, that we do need to force the issue, that it's not going to naturally fix itself," McFarland said.

In an effort to help students counter the rising the debt, Prewett said MU has taken a proactive approach.

"We are keeping them updated, we send them an annual award notice, or annual award debt letter, to let them know exactly how much they borrowed, and what their annual payment's going to be," he said.

One of the biggest issues facing students when it comes to debt is the fear of it, Prewett said.

"Students are scared to look and really determine how much student loan debt they have," he said.

While McFarland said he doubts much will be said on the topic with the polls opening so soon. But, if the candidates were to release their early plans before then, he said his is hopeful both would outline some legislation to address the matter in their first 100 days.

"I would like to see some solid legislation that directly addresses the grievances of students who have overwhelmingly suffocating amount of student debt, "McFarland said.