Romney Unveils Education Plan and Team

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Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney believes increased spending on federal financial aid programs feeds the growth of college costs. In his education plan released Thursday, Romney would limit eligibility for the Pell to the neediest students, eliminate recent regulations and increase the private sector’s role in student lending.

Romney’s campaign team released the education policy plan after his speech on education and the economy before members of the Latino small business community, in which he only alluded to his policies on federal financial aid.

"Students have to have access to a wide variety of options that will give them the skills they need for successful careers," Romney said. "We got to stop fueling skyrocketing tuition prices that put tuition way out of the reach of way too many of our kids and leave others with crushing debt."

Romney's education plan, "A Chance for Every Child: Mitt Romney's Plan for Restoring the Promise of American Education," outlines the following broad themes related to higher education:

  • The preposition that financial aid drives tuition increases;
  • The need to refocus Pell dollars on "students that need the most";
  • The need to bring private lenders back into the student loan program;
  • A call to repeal gainful employment, state authorization, and definition of a credit hour;
  • And a broad call to simplify financial aid.

While most of Romney's speech focused on K-12 education, a broad theme centered on economic development, which the presumed nominee noted cannot be achieved without proper training and postsecondary education. In recent days Romney also announced his Education Policy Team, the group that will guide his higher education and K-12 platform.  Members include former education secretary Rod Paige, and several top officials from the George W. Bush administration.

Impact of Federal Student Aid Spending

Romney's report notes that this country is putting more money into higher education than at any point in history, yet a postsecondary education continues to become more expensive for students and their families. Much like the Obama administration's plan, Romney's administration would make it "clear that the federal government will no longer write a blank check to universities to reward their tuition increases, and [support] institutions that are pursuing innovative operating models to drive down costs."

Pell Grants 

Romney asserts that the "expanding entitlement mentality has expanded the Pell Grant program," putting it on unsure financial footing and forcing Congress to take steps such as eliminating subsidized loans for graduate students.  "A Romney Administration will refocus Pell Grant dollars on the students that need them most and place the program on a responsible long-term path that avoids future funding cliffs and last-minute funding patches," the report states. However, during the first presidential debate, Romney seemed to take a different approach on the issue of education and Pell Grant funding. Romney explained that his approach to cutting funding would be to question "Is the program so critical that it's worth borrowing money from China for?" Pushed during the debate on his education policy, Romney added specifics- building upon the education plan he released. "I'm not going to cut education funding. I don't have any plan to cut education funding and- and grants that go to people going to college," Romney said, "I'm not planning on making changes there. I don't want to cut our commitment to education." 

Consumer Information

Romney recognizes that despite requirements that colleges and universities report volumes of data to the U.S. Department of Education, there is no simple way for students to access that data and interpret its implications. As president, Romney would eliminate unnecessary data collection requirements and partner with existing private-sector entities to create consumer-friendly data on the success of specific institutions of higher education.  "Students should make decisions with full understanding of data points such as completion and persistence, loan repayment rates, and future earnings," the report states. "In turn, these ratings can be used by private lenders to evaluate the risks of lending to students at these institutions, creating incentives for schools to focus on factors related to student success."

Student Loans

Romney criticizes Obama for promising borrowers that their loans will be forgiven if they cannot afford to repay them. As president, Romney would support "private-sector involvement to ensure students are clearly informed about their obligations when they apply for federal student loans, and that they receive support that goes beyond a call from a collections agent to help keep them on track to repayment."


Publication Date: 5/24/2012

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