Republicans and Democrats agree that the 2008 presidential election will be one of the most important elections of our lifetime. That point may be debatable, but it’s clear that our country has changes to make – now.

We cannot afford to continue fighting on partisan grounds and pushing problems off onto future generations. Among those future generations are students like us here at the University. There are many changes that our government needs to make so that our generation can prosper. These changes fall in areas like the war in Iraq, Social Security and health care – topics we have all heard a lot about. However, the most immediate concern for students is the cost of college, and Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) is the best candidate to deal with that concern.

Biden is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and previously served as chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. He is active on issues of education, including trying to help families pay for higher education. College costs are high, and they will only continue to grow unless something is done to keep them in check. The first thing Biden plans to do is to combine the two tax credits that are currently offered, the Hope Scholarship Credit and the tuition and fees deduction, into one $3,000 refundable tax credit that is the equivalent of a $12,000 deduction over four years of college.

This would fit into Biden’s overall plan of simplifying the financial aid system. Right now, no one fully understands the federal financial aid system in this country. Thousands of dollars in aid go unclaimed every year because people just don’t know how to receive it. With so much money at stake, students absolutely must gain a better understanding of how the financial aid system works. Continuing his efforts as senator, Biden also plans to expand eligibility for people to receive the tax credit, resulting in approximately 4 million more hard-working families receiving financial aid to pay for their children’s college educations. Finally, Biden would raise the size of the Pell Grant to $6,300.

Biden plans to instill the expectation that everyone can attend college by engaging students in a college planning and preparation process starting in eighth grade. This would ensure that families have plenty of time to prepare to send their children to college and to save up money. Currently, most students don’t know how much aid they will receive or where they will receive it from until their senior year of high school. That is just unacceptable. College is a major step for a student. There must be adequate time to plan for it.

Most people who are familiar with Biden recognize him for his foreign policy expertise, including his leadership on Iraq and Darfur. What students should realize is that he is an especially great candidate for them. As president, Biden will bring common sense to this country.Justin Schon is an LSA freshman and chair of the University chapter of Students for Biden.

This viewpoint is the fifth in a series by leaders of campus groups supporting various presidential candidates.

–Justin Schon is an LSA freshman and chair of the University chapter of Students for Biden.

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