As presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney debate issues such as terrorism and health care, many wonder how their policies will affect education.
High schools receive most of their funding from the state, whereas colleges receive most of their money from the national government. Therefore, depending on which presidential candidate is elected, funding for college may change. One way the government provides funding for college is through Pell Grants. Pell Grants are given by the U.S. federal government as a means for students from low income families to pay for college. Obama and Romney have differing ideas on how to approach Pell grants.
Under Obama’s administration, the maximum Pell Grant award was raised from $4,241 in 2008 to $5500 in 2012, making college more affordable for the 9.5 million students who received the award. That being said, “the cost of a college education has risen by 25 percent, and student debt has reached a record $1 trillion”, according to a website about Romney’s views on different issues.
One stance that Romney has on education is that too much money is going into Pell Grants. However, cutting Pell Grants would “lower the income level at which students qualify for an automatic maximum grant…[and] freeze the maximum grant at the fiscal year 2012 level of $5,550”, according to a Washington Post article. In turn, reducing the max award of a Pell Grant would make it harder for students to pay for college.
To combat that, Romney will “ensure that students have diverse and affordable options for higher education to give them the skills they need to succeed after graduation and that, when they graduate, they can find jobs that provide a rewarding return on their educational investment.”
Some options include online and community colleges instead of expensive private schools, or having students do work-study programs to reduce the cost of tuition.
In terms of high school, Romney is a big proponent of private and charter schools. An article about Romney’s plans for education on boston.com says that Romney would provide vouchers for low income students to take “federal funds and use it to attend a school of their choice”, be it a private or charter school. Providing plenty of school choice is a component of Romney’s platform and it includes creating a link between federal funds and students.
Obama, on the other hand, opposes vouchers. He prefers to reward and recruit great teachers with programs like the STEM Master Teachers Corps, which would give teachers in the program “an annual stipend of up to $20,000 on top of their base salary.” Obama also looks to put money into the public school system. One program, the Race to the Top Fund, was designed to spur innovation and high scores. The Race to the Top Fund is “part of about $100 billion the bill would channel to public schools, universities and early childhood education programs nationwide, helping stave off teacher layoffs, keep class sizes in check and jump-start efforts to revamp aging schools,” according to an article in the Washington Post. Obama aims to keep students in the public school system and reward successful schools.
While there are major differences, as well as pros and cons to Obama and Romney’s views on education, it will take the election to determine which plan is implemented.