Uncommitted: Iowa 2020

Why 2020 Candidates Keep Talking About Student Debt

Listen to Episode 2 of "Uncommitted: Iowa 2020" to hear how student debt is shaping the lives of millions of Americans and the race to determine which Democrat will take on President Trump.

by Greg Walters
Nov 19 2019, 1:58pm

Listen to the teaser below and subscribe here on Spotify for the full episode of "Uncommitted: Iowa 2020," a new podcast from VICE News.

There’s a $1.6 trillion pile of student debt out there, and how to deal with it has become a key question in the Democratic primary.

Progressives like Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren want to wipe out hundreds of billions worth of student debt in a move that would radically change the daily lives of millions of Americans. But moderates like former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Amy Klobuchar say that’s too much, too fast.

It’s a debate that could help determine which Democrat gets to take on President Donald Trump in 2020, if college students turn out in Iowa this time like they did for Barack Obama in 2008. And a look at the college students and graduates in Iowa facing monthly payments they can barely afford suggests that, yeah — they might.

That’s the story we’re telling in Episode 2 of our new VICE News podcast, “Uncommitted: Iowa 2020,” which drops Tuesday on Spotify, hosted by Emmy award-winning correspondent Antonia Hylton.

VICE News political reporter Greg Walters hit the road to speak to college students about how debt is shaping their lives, and influencing their decisions about careers, families — and voting.

A college education has come to be seen as necessary to achieving a comfortable, middle-class life. But ironically, many students are taking on a debt load that prevents them from feeling financially comfortable. In fact, many describe feeling as if they’re under a crushing weight.

To make ends meet, a lot of Iowa students are selling a piece of themselves — literally, in the form of paid blood plasma sales.

Walk onto any state school campus in Iowa and ask a random student about selling blood plasma, and you’ll get an earful. They either do it themselves, or their roommate does it, or they know someone. To outsiders, it may sound a little weird — but for many students in 2019, it’s just a fact of life in an age when the mountain of student debt just keeps getting bigger.

Listen to Episode 2 and subscribe here on Spotify now.

You can catch Uncommitted: Iowa 2020 Podcast on Spotify every Tuesday. And sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.

Cover: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill July 23, 2019 in Washington, DC. Warren spoke with Rep. Jim Clyburn (R) (D-SC) on legislation to cancel student loan debt for millions of Americans. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

2020 election