How do Obama and Romney differ on college affordability and access?


by Félix Pérez/photos above courtesy of gadgetdude and expertinfantry

Looking to halt fraudulent recruitment practices used by for-profit diploma mills to swindle veterans and American service members out of their federal education benefits, President Obama signed an executive order Friday, April 27, that protects men and women who have served or are currently in the military.

“The sad truth is that there are people out there who are less interested in helping our men and women in uniform get ahead and more interested in making a buck,” said President Obama. “They bombard potential students with emails and pressure them into making a quick decision. Some of them steer recruits towards high-interest loans and mislead them about credit transfers and job placement programs.”

Mitt Romney, President Obama’s likely opponent in the fall election, has not specifically addressed the growing complaints about fraudulent marketing and recruiting practices aimed at military families who have earned GI Bill benefits. Nor does the former Massachusetts governor’s campaign web site mention higher education affordability.

Romney has, however, spoken about higher education at various stops on the campaign trail.

This past Friday, addressing students and supporters at Otterbein University in central Ohio, Romney offered advice to young adults seeking an economic foothold. “We’ve always encouraged young people — take a shot, go for it, take a risk and get the education, borrow money if you have to from your parents, start a business.” He then shared a story about a successful business owner who started by borrowing $20,000 from his parents.

Lost in Romney’s remarks was a plan to assist individuals whose parents don’t have $20,000 to loan.

On the issue of student loan rates — which will double July 1 unless Congress acts — Romney surprised some people late last week by joining President Obama’s call on Congress to take action. President Obama first urged Congress to act three months ago in his State of the Union address.  Last week he spoke out on the issue at universities nationwide.

Left unanswered is how Romney’s encouragement to Congress to extend the rate “temporarily” meshes with his support for the federal budget proposed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan. The Ryan plan, which Romney called “bold and exciting,” would cut Pell Grants for more than 9 million students.

Two years ago, as part of the health care reform law, President Obama reined in banks that were serving as middle men on federally guaranteed student loans and making billions of dollars in profits off of taxpayers in return.

Romney characterized the provision as government “taking over the student loan business,” even though the private loan market is unaffected and the money that would otherwise have gone to banks now goes to students.

To learn more about where President Obama and Romney stand on the issues that matter to students, educators and middle class families, visit EdVotes’ Election 2012 page.  Receive EdVotes’ weekly email by going here.


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