Democratic Party’s 2020 Presidential Election Student Policy Guide

Written by: Kristyn Pilgrim
Updated: 5/21/20

With November 2020 growing ever-closer, you might be wondering how the elections might affect the United States’ stance on student loans. Here, we’ll cover the official Democratic platform, which provides a general idea of how Democrats across the nation approach issues regarding higher education. Next, we’ll review Joe Biden’s plan for improving community colleges, increasing access to four-year universities, and supporting underrepresented educational institutions. 

The Official Democratic Platform

The Democrats fundamentally want every child in the country to have access to high-quality education. Here, we’ll dive into the specifics of the party’s official platform. 

Challenges in the Educational System 

According to the Democratic National Committee, the following problems are currently holding back our educational system:

  • The nation has significant racial and socioeconomic differences in opportunity for education. 
  • Higher education is often necessary for middle-class jobs, but graduation rates for low-income students have stagnated. 
  • Students are taking out significant amounts of student loans, burdening them with debt. 

Now, let’s take a look at some of the measures Democrats want to take to help make the United States’ education system more effective. 

Empower Students to Graduate From College Debt-Free

Democrats want to create an educational system where students can graduate from college without being saddled with thousands of dollars in debt. The party believes a combination of bold investments by federal and state governments can help reduce costs for American students. In addition, the Democratic Party also wants to make community college free, allowing students to get a two-year degree without paying a dime.

Provide Relief to Students With Debt

The Democratic Party acknowledges the current problem of crushing student debt – a total of $1.6 trillion in student loans nationwide. Democrats believe the following strategies can help students manage their debt: 

  • Enable students to refinance their loans at the lowest possible rate. 
  • Expand and simplify access to income-based repayment programs. 
  • Cut student loan interest rates to make college more affordable. 

The Democrats want to institute a student borrower “bill of rights,” which will ensure students receive adequate information about their rights and responsibilities as borrowers.

Unlike President Trump, the Democrats want to continue Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). Under PSLF, some students are eligible for the government to forgive their student loans after the student makes 10 years’ worth of payments on an income-based repayment plan. 

Finally, Democrats want to change the status of student loans under the bankruptcy laws. Currently, students are unable to discharge their student debt if they file for bankruptcy. The Democratic Party wants to permit student loan discharge as a last resort for borrowers in challenging circumstances. 

Support Minority Education 

The Democratic Party is committed to strengthening the following public and private institutions:

  • Historically Black Colleges and Universities
  • Predominantly Black Institutions
  • Hispanic-Serving Institutions
  • Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions
  • Tribal Colleges and Universities
  • Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions
  • Native American-Serving Nontribal Institutions

Specifically, the Democrats want to create a designated fund to reduce costs while continuing to provide high-quality education and support graduation rates. The party plans to supply money to both students at these educational institutions and the schools themselves. 

Democrats want to encourage colleges and universities to take meaningful steps to increase their numbers of minority, low-income, and first-generation students. 

Prevent For-Profit Schools From Preying on Students 

According to the Democrats, for-profit schools receive millions of dollars of financial aid each year as their primary revenue source. Unfortunately, many of these institutions fail to provide a meaningful, high-quality education to their students. The Democrats want to ensure that for-profit schools are adequately preparing their students for the workplace. 

Democrats also plan to pursue schools that commit crimes like fraud or deceptive marketing to draw in students. In some cases, the Democratic Party intends to shut down schools that fraudulently encourage their students to keep taking out student loans that they may have extreme difficulty paying back. To help students harmed by fraudulent for-profit colleges, the Democrats want to implement a program providing widespread debt forgiveness.  

Improve the Quality of Primary Education 

The Democrats believe that strong education starts as early as preschool. As a result, they want to provide every family access to high-quality childcare and preschool programs. Similarly, Democrats want to increase wages for childcare workers and preschool teachers. Democrats also support investment in programs that keep kids engaged and out of trouble, including afterschool and summer learning programs. 

The Democratic Party wants to ensure every child has access to high-quality education, whether they be low-income students, students of color, English Language Learners, or students with disabilities.

Democrats oppose tying standardized test scores to teacher and principal evaluation or school funding. If parents choose to opt their children out of standardized testing, Democrats will support them. 

According to the Democratic Party platform, Democrats want to launch a national campaign to recruit exceptional teachers and provide them with the tools they need to be successful. Specifically, Democrats want to support science, technology, engineering, mathematics, computer science, arts, and community schools. 

Joe Biden’s Education Program

As Joe Biden is the Democrat’s candidate for president in the 2020 election, we thought it would be helpful to review some of his ideas for the country’s education system. Here are a few of the highlights. 

Invest in Community Colleges and Career-Specific Training 

Biden believes that community colleges are a high-quality tool to help Americans get the education they need to thrive in the middle class. According to Biden, community colleges offer a pathway to roughly 30 million high-quality jobs that don’t require a bachelor’s degree. Even if students eventually want to go on to get a four-year degree, community colleges are a cost-effective way to complete the first two years of study. 

Specifically, Biden wants to take the following measures to support the United States’ community colleges: 

  • Make two years of community college free. Biden wants to provide two years of community college (or other career training program) debt-free. This program will be accessible to many students, including recent high school graduates, DREAMers, and adults who want to learn new skills. This plan will be a partnership between the federal and state governments, with the federal government paying 75% of the costs. 
  • Improve the quality of community colleges. According to Biden, we should invest in career services professionals, professors, and other faculty.
  • Reduce barriers to completion. Biden wants to empower students to use financial aid to pay for expenses other than tuition and fees, such as books, transportation, and child care services. In addition, Biden strives to work with community-based organizations to support veterans, single parents, low-income students, students of color, and students with disabilities. Finally, Biden’s program will have emergency funds for students who have an unexpected financial emergency that prevents them from staying enrolled. 
  • Invest in training programs. Biden plans to invest $50 billion in training programs, including certifications that take anywhere from a few months to two years to complete. 

Improve Students’ Access to College 

As mentioned on Biden’s website, the cost of higher education has almost doubled since the 1990s. As a result, Biden wants to make college more affordable. Here’s how he wants to accomplish his goals: 

  • Free public education. Eliminate tuition for families making under $125,000 at public colleges and universities. 
  • Expanded Pell grants. Double the maximum value of Pell grants and increase availability to more American families. 
  • Reduce students’ debt burden. Students who make $25,000 or less per year won’t have to make student loan payments or accrue interest. Other individuals will pay 5% of their discretionary income over $25,000 towards their student debt. After 20 years, individuals who have made their payments according to the plan will have their loans completely forgiven. 
  • Improve PSLF. Students in the public sector or non-profits will receive $10,000 of debt relief for every year of service, up to five years. 

Biden has several other programs in mind, including cracking down on for-profit schools, supporting education for veterans, and improving the transition between community college and four-year universities. For more information, visit his plan for high education

Assist Unique Educational Institutions 

Biden also has a variety of plans to help lift up and support Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-serving Institutions, Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving Institutions, Alaska Native-serving Institutions and Native Hawaiian-serving Institutions, Predominantly Black Institutions, and Native American-serving Nontribal Institutions. He recognizes these institutions often play an essential role in the communities they serve. 

He plans to support these education institutions by: 

  • Making these unique educational institutions more affordable for students. 
  • Investing in Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and other minority-service institutions. 
  • Building technology and computer labs for underserved educational institutions. 

For a more extensive review of Biden’s plan to help underrepresented students, review the third section of his education plan

Get Help Planning for Your Future 

While paying for college can be complicated, is here to help you make intelligent, informed decisions about your education. If you or someone you know is wondering how you’re going to pay for school, visit for in-depth resources on financial aid, loan repayment, and more. The experts at will help you plan for a bright and successful future.