U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill spoke about student loans during a recent visit to UMKC. Photo credit: Janet Rogers, University Communications.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill talks student loans

McCaskill invited by UMKC College Democrats

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill gave an impassioned speech about student loans Sept. 6 to an audience of nearly 100 University of Missouri-Kansas City students.

The UMKC College Democrats invited McCaskill to the Student Union for a chance to learn more about the Democrat incumbent. McCaskill is defending her senate seat against Republican opponent Rep. Todd Akin.

McCaskill appeared to hit home when she asked the audience about their own experiences with student loans.

“How many of you are attending college today because of either a Pell Grant or a federally-backed student loan?” She asked.

Nearly everyone raised a hand.

“And how many of you are working also?”

Again, nearly everyone raised a hand.

McCaskill, who years ago worked and used a federally-backed student loan to put herself through college, voiced her support for federally backed student loans.

In doing so, she differentiated herself from Akin, who she said compared federally backed student loans to a “stage 3 cancer of socialism.”

McCaskill said the elimination of federally backed student loans would be “a gut punch that we can’t recover from.”

She also predicted that a very limited number of students would be unable to attend college if student loans were left to the private sector.

“The notion that we’re going to somehow get to prosperity by slamming college doors shut on hundreds of thousands of Missourians is absolutely unacceptable,” McCaskill said.

Andrew Miller, chairman of the UMKC College Democrats, appreciated McCaskill’s stance on student loans. As a child, his family had a comfortable middle class life. But when his father was laid off from his job, and the bills associated with Miller’s type 1 diabetes began to pile up, Miller’s parents were unable to put all four children through college.

When he introduced McCaskill to the crowd, Miller said he and his brother depend on student loans to attend college.

“You can do everything right, and still need help paying for school,” Miller said.

Prior to McCaskill’s arrival, Harsh Desai, a junior and a political science major, said he was excited to hear more about McCaskill’s thoughts on higher education. During the question and answer session, he asked McCaskill what fields of study she recommends to students.

McCaskill told a laughing crowd that if her three children had majored in engineering, she’d be a lot less worried.   

Although the crowd appeared to be mostly supportive of McCaskill, Sophia White, a senior and vice chair of the UMKC College Democrats, said she hoped McCaskill’s visit would inspire political involvement in all students, regardless of party affiliation.

“We’ve been really focused on getting students motivated for the election year – not just Democrats, but all students,” White said. “I hope this rallies political awareness.”

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“We’ve been really focused on getting students motivated for the election year – not just Democrats, but all students."

Sophia White
Vice Chair of UMKC College Democrats