Our second Polithon, on June 20, 2015, took on a small piece of the mammoth problem that is rapidly growing student loan debt in the United States. We traveled to The Ohio State University in Columbus, OH, to develop state-level solutions to the debt crisis.

Results: A Saturday of brainstorming and debating yielded three raw proposals to tackle student debt in Ohio. During the week following, Policy Disruptors (PDs), had the opportunity to refine their proposals before they were sent on for judging. The strongest proposal was identified by judges, and bounced back to the PDs along with additional feedback on all of the papers. The group was eager to collaborate one more time and develop a final platform incorporating the best of their ideas; however, personal commitments and time constraints made this difficult, so we’ve released the raw papers instead. See below to read the complete proposals.

The PolicyDisruptors included:

  • Alejandro Chock: Rising Senior, Ohio State University
  • Anthony Szuhay: Graduate, Ohio State University
  • Nicole D. Jackson, Esq: Attorney, Professionals Guild of Ohio
  • David Chambliss: Director of Development, Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University
  • Prentiss Haney: Regional Field Lead, Ohio Student Association
  • Meghan Pope: Fourth-Year Student, University of Cincinnati
  • Vytas Aukstuolis: Deputy Director, Democratic Voices
  • Andrew Griggs: Student Body VP, University of Cincinnati
  • Max Mauerman: Fourth-Year Student, Ohio State University
  • Nate Hall: Research Analyst, Building Strong Communities
  • Sean Patrick Feeney: Democratic Candidate for Hamilton County Commissioner in 2014
  • Julie Manuszak: Rising Third-Year Student, Ohio State University
  • Anthony Lagunzad: Graduating Senior, Ohio State University
  • Michael Slavens: Graduate and Former Student Body President, Youngstown State University
  • Alex Kass: Executive Director, Democratic Voices
  • Shannon Reid: Rising Junior and Student Government Member,  University of Cincinnati 

The policy experts were:

  • Sarah Kilpatrick: Executive Director, Ohio Conference of the Association of American University Professors
  • Dr. Matt Ides: Organizer, Ohio Education Association; Lecturer, Ohio State University
  • Hannah Halbert: Policy Liason, Policy Matters Ohio
  • David All: Founder, CivicHacks, The Startup Storyteller, Test City, U.S.A; Former speechwriter for Sen. George V. Voinovich


USG Logo                         OSA new Logo         AAUP_Logo_Red


Team 1 recognized the complexity of causes behind student loan debt and advocated a four pronged approach. The solution they put forth involved career counseling and ensuring student financial literacy, a .35% bump in sales tax to finance undergraduate educations, a program that completely forgives student loans if a graduate dedicates their career to the interests of the state of Ohio, and a system for student feedback to curtail unneeded administrative expenditures. Finally, they propose subsidizing college loans upon purchase of a home to encourage home ownership in the state. Click here for the full proposal.

Team 2’s solution revolved around alleviating the student debt burdens felt by the lower and middle classes. It consists of several points that aim to pragmatically attack this crippling problem, including incentives for firms to hire graduates and help them repay their loans, seeding OH-529 college savings accounts, an improved tax deduction structure, standardized financial literacy training, and increased interaction between four-year, two-year community, and vocational schools to better coordinate jumps and reduce the stigma of attending any of the options. Click here for the full proposal.

Team 3 hoped to help current debtors out of the hole and to ensure that future students do not fall deep in. They argued that early financial literacy education is crucial for prospective post-secondary students, and outlined a comprehensive proposal for required financial literacy education. They also advocated for incentives for timely college completion, and the formation of a college-to-job pipeline for non-STEM students. On the financial side, they encourage the expansion of and an updated equation for need-based aid, and plans for administrative cost reduction among other things. Click here for the full proposal.

Ohio Research Resources

For those interested in Ohio student debt, here are some materials used by PDs included in their briefing book:

Ohio Conference AAUP: The Real Problems Deserve Real Solutions

The Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions: Ohio’s Higher Education Budget A Commendable If Modest Action Plan

Policy Matters Ohio: Blocking the College Door: Cuts to Financial Aid Lock Students Out

Young Invincibles: Governor Kasich Said He Wants to Give Every Ohian An Equal Change: Here’s What That Should Look Like

If you want to get involved or help turn the solution into action, please get in touch!

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