Election years are always filled with the ‘big issues.’ People want to know each candidate’s stand on abortion, immigration, international policy, the budget, and more. For college students, there is a more pressing issue…that of financial aid policy. This year’s presidential candidates are at complete odds on this issue and the details could impact your choice for President. So, what can you expect from each candidate?
Romney’s Stand on Financial Aid and Student Loans
Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney does not seem to be a fan of student loan forgiveness and financial aid. On his official site, his stance is stated as being in favor of a higher education that is not a “luxury for the few; instead, all students should have the opportunity to attend a college that best suits their needs. Whether it is public or private, traditional or online, college must be available and affordable.” This sounds great, so should you be concerned? During a campaign stop in Ohio in March, Romney told students, “It would be popular for me to stand up and say, ‘I’m going to give you government money to pay for your college,’ but I’m not going to promise that,” he said. “And don’t expect the government to forgive the debt that you take on.” What does that mean for students who depend upon financial aid and/or debt forgiveness to finance a higher education?
Obama’s Stand on Financial Aid and Student Loans
Is President Obama’s take on the financial aid situation more favorable to college students? On the official Presidential website, it is clearly stated that college affordability is a top priority. Obama’s College Affordability Plan proposes to increase Pell grants to $5,400 over coming years, to simplify the financial aid application process, to offer tax breaks to families paying college costs, and to eliminate subsidies to private loans in favor of more affordable alternatives. Vice President of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, Joni Finney, points out that these tax cuts will help middle- and higher-income families, while increased Pell grants will make college more affordable for those from low-income families.
Which candidate is the better choice? That depends upon your needs and priorities. One thing is for certain, however. It is well worth keeping a close watch on comments and official statements from both candidates on the issue of financial aid. Most importantly, this election day you must get out and vote. It is time for college students to be heard.