President Obama lampoons Romney advice to college students


by Félix Pérez

President Barack Obama took his message on college affordability to young people in Columbus, Ohio, yesterday, pledging to continue the progress he has made and questioning whether the solutions offered by Mitt Romney are realistic or will help students avoid a “mountain of debt.”

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President Obama, in a speech [read transcript] to more than 3,000 people, questioned Romney’s advice to students looking to go to college or start a business. “Borrow money, if you have to, from your parents,” Romney said at a campaign stop this spring.

President Obama went on to remind listeners of Romney’s response on another occasion to a student who asked what Romney would do to make college more affordable if he were elected president. “The best thing I can do for you is tell you to shop around,” said Romney.

Obama quipped: “That’s his plan. That’s his answer to young people who are trying to figure out how to go to college and make sure that they don’t have a mountain of debt — shop around and borrow more money from your parents. Not everybody has parents who have the money to lend.”

President Obama continued, “Think about all the discoveries, all the businesses, all the breakthroughs that we would not have made if we told every young person who has got the drive and the will and the grades to go to college, ‘tough luck, too bad, you’re on your own.’ We’ve always made a commitment to put a good education within the reach of everybody who is willing to work for it. That’s part of what makes us special.”

In a head-to-head comparison on college affordability, President Obama and Romney have stark differences.


  • Described as a “bold and exciting effort” the budget plan written by his vice presidential running mate, Paul Ryan, which would cut Pell Grants for more than 9 million students
  • As governor of Massachusetts, proposed raising tuition by 15 percent and reduced higher education funding, resulting in a 68 percent increase in student fees
  • Characterized President Obama’s removal of banks as middle men on federally guaranteed student loans, redirecting the money to students, as government “taking over the student loan business”
  • Said that for-profit colleges could be the answer even though graduates of for-profit institutions have higher debt on average

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
  • Halted fraudulent recruitment practices used by for-profit diploma mills to swindle veterans
  • Made it easier for more than a million students with federal student loans to cap their monthly payments at 10 percent of their discretionary income
  • Extended Pell Grants to 3 million more students
  • Signed a tax credit worth up to $10,000 to help middle class families cover the cost of tuition

At a rally today in Las Vegas, Nevada, President Obama was introduced by high school teacher Claritssa Sanchez.

“When I first started teaching five years ago, my class sizes were about 33 students per class,” said Sanchez, who teaches 10th grade world history and government at Canyon Spring. “Today I walk into a classroom with about 45 students … I wish (Gov. Romney) could spend one day in my classroom and see what it’s really like. When he says class sizes don’t even matter, I want to know why he thinks he knows what’s better for students than us teachers.”

Learn more about how President Obama and Romney compare on college affordability, class size and other hot button issues. Read EdVotes’ fact checked and sourced Candidate Comparison Issue Guide.

Reader Comments

  1. When Romney was in public elementary school in the fifties, students behaved and teachers could teach larger classes. Same goes for grades 7-12 in his private prep school where students could easily be expelled if they behaved inappropriately. He needs a wake up call to see what public schools are like now. Put him in as a substitute at a public high school in any urban environment in the US and lets see what he thinks about class size then!

  2. Romney cannot relate to the middle class and his policies reflect this. Woe are we if he and his party gain more control over us. With them it’s all about money – their money, not the money of the middle class or the poor. They’re trying to woo us with their ‘holier than thou’ pseudo Christian values. What was the main point of Jesus’s ministry – the poor, the marginalized. Jesus was living out what God had told his people/us from the very beginning.

  3. What an insult coming from a man whose parents had the means to send him to the best schools and colleges in this country. A sure example of population Mr. Romeny favors or certain proof he is out of touch with the rest of America.

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