Rubio talks student loans, compromise at town hall


by Laura Wiersema, News Editor

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio became the second presidential candidate Saturday to visit Simpson College this week in a last-ditch effort to win the votes of potential Iowa caucus-goers.

During the event, the Republican candidate emphasized the need for a president who will recognize and promote America’s greatness.

He made references to his Christian faith and its influence on his views and plans.

Marco Rubio 3(Photo: Michelle Hartmann, Photo Editor/The Simpsonian)

The youngest of all the candidates on both the Republican and Democratic sides, Rubio appealed to younger voters with his ideas for “a new American century” — the slogan for his campaign.

Sophomore Nick Laning, who is majoring in political science, said he thinks Rubio appeals to students because of his willingness to work with the Democratic Party.

“He can actually go across the aisle and work for the other side,” Laning said. “Ted Cruz won’t do that. Bernie (Sanders) definitely won’t do that.”

Rubio said, though he’s a Republican, if elected, he will be president for everyone, which means finding compromise and not pitting the parties against each other for political gain.

“We’re all in this together,” Rubio said.

While taking questions at the end, Rubio addressed the cost of college and student loans, a problem impacting many in attendance, including Simpson students. He recognized the dilemma of students whose parents make too much to receive financial aid but still cannot afford to pay for college.

The senator’s answer seemed roundabout, however, as he discussed trade school as an acceptable alternative to a college education. He emphasized the need for such jobs and the money to be made in those lines of work.

When Rubio directly addressed student loans, he said, “We have to make it easier to pay these loans back, which is why I have bipartisan ideas on this. No. 1, make income-based payment the automatic method.”

Rubio’s reasoning behind income-based payment is simple. It’s better to have people paying a little bit on their loans as they can than to have them pay nothing at all. And the only ways to get rid of student loan debt are dying or to pay it off.

“And only one of those is a good option,” Rubio said.

His other ideas for managing student loan debt are creating alternatives to student loans and what he calls “the right to know before you go.”

Before taking out a loan, the college is required to tell the student what people make when they graduate with that degree from that institution.

Students would be able to compare schools and weigh their options to make the best decision for them.

“None of these are perfect solutions. None of these are a silver bullet. But I can just tell you I feel passionately about this issue because, not only do I know students who are impacted by it, but I was personally impacted by it,” Rubio said.

Freshman Zoe Seiler said Rubio’s ideas about student loans appealed personally to her.

“I think he made good points that you can make good money from trade schools,” she said. “I liked the income-based idea of paying off student loans. I can relate to my parents not making enough for financial aid but not being able to pay for college out of pocket.”

According to, Rubio is polling at 11 percent in Iowa, behind Donald Trump, who has 29 percent, and Ted Cruz, who has 26 percent. Trump made a stop at Simpson in April 2015, but Cruz has yet to appear on campus.