Would College Education Be Easier Path Under Obama or Romney?

For all the talk about what the presidential candidates are going to do for the middle class in America this election, there is a contrast between their policies on funding for higher education.

The path to upward mobility for many people leads through their local community college or university campus. President Barack Obama has done a few things to make the going easier. Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s plan would undo some of what the president has done.

First, there are stories out on the Web and in your local newspaper today about the amount of debt Ohio’s college students are leaving the academy owing. It’s growing – fast.

The Akron Beacon Journal covers the story this way:

Student debt edged higher last year to an average of $28,683 in Ohio, about 8 percent above the national average.

Bowling Green State University once again ranked as a “high-debt public college,” and the state ranked seventh in the debt of graduating bachelor’s degree students, according to the Project on Student Debt, compiled by the Institute for College Access and Success.

Statewide, average graduate debt at all Ohio institutions rose 3.5 percent when compared against the previous year — perhaps coincidentally, the same amount public colleges were allowed by law to increase tuition and fees.

Now, we know that in Romney Land when young adults need some help for something like school tuition, Mitt believes they should just “borrow money if you have to from your parents.”

Great advice if your Dad is a corporate raider or runs an auto company. Not  so good if your family is like most in Ohio. Affording college is difficult for many families and it’s not getting easier.

Obama recognizes that a college education is necessary for many to move up the income ladder. He famously fought to maintain student loan interest rates and his stimulus effort in 2009 contained the American Opportunity Tax Credit which helps middle class families by granting them a deduction for some of the college tuition they pay.

The Romney-Ryan budget plan would cut the American Opportunity Tax Credit. IO recently released a report that showed:

  • There are 349,000 middle-class Ohio families and students paying for college educations that use President Obama’s American Opportunity Tax Credit.
  • The average benefit these families and students receive from the American Opportunity Tax Credit is $2,100 – and would be lost under Romney.