Students weigh in on education funding
Published: Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 4, 2012 00:09
As November looms ever closer and the 2012 presidential candidates lay out their plans, young voters scrutinize the promises made for the future—especially the ones that will affect them most acutely. The hot topic in the minds of many college students is higher education.
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama have different views on higher education, specifically on funding and student loans, which could heavily influence the future of college students and the affordability of a college degree.
Obama has historically supported direct federal lending to students in order to make a college education available to 10 million needy students, according to his budget message to Congress. The White House additionally reports that his administration’s overhaul of the student loan program has doubled funding for Pell Grants.
The Department of Labor estimates that two-thirds of the 30 occupations projected to have the largest number of new jobs from now until 2020 usually require less than a postsecondary education.
Drawing on this statistic and ever-increasing tuition prices, Romney’s education plan, “A Chance for Every Child,” proposes to cut federal funding to college students, providing Pell Grants only to those deemed to truly need them by the federal government and focusing more on private-sector lending and providing accurate information about the performance and strengths of specific postsecondary institutions to high school students contemplating higher education.
Laura Kretz, president of College Democrats, said cuts to federal funding for student loans are unacceptable in such volatile economic times.
“There are Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney, who want to keep cutting [funding for] education, and there’s President Obama, who supports higher education and who is trying to continue to make sure education is accessible to all, no matter their financial background,” Kretz said.
Kretz said Romney and Ryan unfairly target Pell Grants as an area to cut federal costs.
“In the Ryan budget, Pell Grants for poor students will be cut by $170 billion,” Kretz said. “That means more than one million students are going to lose Pell Grants over the next ten years. There is never a time to cut higher education.”
Sophomore Adam Motley said part of Romney’s administration’s hope is that cuts to federal lending to students will combat the rising costs of higher education.
Motley said he thinks tuition costs are rising partially due to federal lending. Federal student loan options provide the opportunity of higher education to people who could not previously afford it, thus increasing demand for higher education and, due to the principle of supply and demand, according to Motley.
“It seems to me to be similar to the housing crisis,” Motley said. “The federal government has made it a priority to make sure everyone can afford a college education. This creates artificially high demand. People who can’t afford college suddenly sort of can. Then, when they get a job after college, they’re making less than needed to pay back loans.”
But Motley said the mindset is, “If the government gives me money, I should get a college education.”
Ideas surrounding increases or cuts to federal student loan programs also play a role in how students view higher education policies.
Baylor Myers, president of College Republicans, said on behalf of the College Republicans that he does not support government handouts.
“We want the opportunity to work hard and pay back our student loans and then be successful in the private sector,” Myers said. “Our generation needs Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan’s economic plan.”