Obama vs. Romney: student issues



Obama campaigned to prevent Congress from allowing federal student loan interest rates from doubling last July with the Stop the Rate Hike Act of 2012 and capped federal student loan repayments at 10 percent of income. In 2010, President Obama asked Congress to lower the current Income-Based Repayment plan repayment on federal student loans. The request was to decrease the percentage of income for repayment to 10 percent from the current 15 percent and to end the repayments after 20 years instead of 25 for loans borrowed in July 2014 and later. “We are pursuing administrative action that may extend these lower payments to some students as soon as the end of this calendar year,” the president said in a release on the White House website.

 Romney wants to create affordable options for higher education so that students would be well-equipped for jobs after they graduate. Romney works to change the system of financial aid, engage more private sector participation and alleviate regulations. Romney believes that a “flood of federal dollars is driving up tuition and burdening too many young Americans with substantial debt and too few opportunities.”


Obama is the chief creator of the American Jobs Act of 2011, which would provide tax relief for American workers and businesses in an effort to bring workers back to jobs while rebuilding and modernizing America, according to OpenCongress.org. Obama wants to eliminate tax breaks for companies who ship jobs overseas and create incentives for companies to bring jobs back to America. In the last 32 months of consecutive job growth, 5.4 million new private sector jobs were created.

Romney plans to create 12 million new jobs during his term through his five point plan: create energy independence, trade that works for America, provide Americans with the skills to succeed through better public schools, better access to higher education and better retraining programs of the workforce, cutting the deficit and championing small business. Romney believes the jobs crisis is because of a mismatch between the skill set of the workforce and the requirements of the employment market.


Obama plans to double funding for Pell Grants and establish a college tax credit to increase the number of people who have access to public education. Through the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, Obama worked to raise the maximum allotment of Pell Grants, stabilizing grant funds for the future and increasing direct federal student loans.

Romney’s stance on Pell Grant funding in an early policy platform was to “refocus Pell Grant dollars on the students that need the most and place the program on a responsible long-term path.” In addition, running mate Rep. Paul Ryan’s controversial budget plan has the potential to cut Pell benefits and eligibility, and cap the maximum grant to $5,550 for a decade, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. However, during the second presidential debate at Hofstra University Oct. 16, Romney expressed interest in not only keeping Pell Grant funding, but increasing it. “I want to make sure we keep our Pell Grant program growing,” he said, but has since offered few details on how he would institute such a plan.


Obama signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act on Jan. 29, 2009 and is an advocate of equal pay for equal work. According to his campaign website, Obama worked to allow birth control to be covered by many insurance companies as part of preventative care. Obama believes women’s health care choices are personal decisions, not the choice of politicians. He works to maintain the status and funding of Planned Parenthood and many insurance companies now cover mammograms, cancer screenings and even birth control without excessive fees, said his website.

Romney is openly anti-abortion and believes that life begins at conception; he argues the laws should reflect those views. He wants to overturn Roe V. Wade and wants states to determine their own abortion laws. Romney supports the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funds for abortions, including federal funding for Planned Parenthood.


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