All of the candidates’ plans address the problem of college tuition in one form or another. No surprise there either — tuition has been rising faster than the inflation rate for as long as anyone can remember. But dealing with tuition costs is only part of the battle. A truly successful reform plan will need to tackle issues, such as child care, commuter subsidies and balancing studies with work.
Why? Because your typical college student is no longer the 18-year-old freshman from the suburbs, living in the dorm on campus. A majority of college students today are what is known as “non-traditional:” they are older, they have kids, they hold down full-time jobs while pursuing their coursework. More than a quarter of all college students are raising a child, according to a 2014 study from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Twenty percent of students work full-time; more than half of those who don’t work full-time still put in 20 or more hours a week, according to a 2011 US Census Report. For these students — and remember again that they now form the majority of all college students — it isn’t enough just to make college cheap or free.