As the Presidential campaign enters its final weeks, President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Gov. Mitt Romney have been desperately promising, pledging and pleading in efforts to earn the young vote.
While some of their claims seem to be genuine, both sides have also presented their share of lies and half-truths.
Romney has claimed that if elected he would provide a better outlook for students. At a speech in New Hampshire in December of last year, Romney said that if elected, he would provide easier access to jobs for college students than they have experienced under the Obama administration.
“What I can promise you is this — when you get out of college, if I’m president, you’ll have a job. If President Obama is re-elected, you will not be able to get a job,” Romney said. “
That’s the reason I will hopefully get young people who are in college to say, ‘You know what, I understand what it takes to get jobs in America.’”
Obama made sure to include a provision in his Affordable Care Act that allows adults to stay on their parents’ health care plans until the age of 26. This has allowed many college students to be covered by health insurance until they conceivably get a job.
Both Obama and Romney claim that they will extend the Pell Grant programs. These are federal programs that help middle and lower-class families pay for college.While these claims and promises are admirable, both candidates seem to be lacking in real ideas to bring down the sky-rocketing rise of student loan debt faced by college students across the country.
Romney has pointed to the John and Abigail Adams Scholarship he implemented while governor in Massachusetts. The program pays undergraduate tuition fees for the top 25% of high school students if they attend a Massachusetts public college or university as a full-time student.
Obama plans to deal with the problem by increasing the Income-Based Recovery plan ushered in by the Bush administration in 2009. Under Bush the IBR dictated that a maximum of 15 percent of non-discretionary income could be used to repay student loans. The IBR also allowed for total debt forgiveness after 25 years.
President Obama lowered the maximum percent of non-discretionary income to be spent on student loans to 10 percent. He also shortened the time it takes to earn total debt forgiveness to 20 years. These plans are scheduled to take effect in 2014, but Obama’s administration is trying to move the implementation to a sooner date.
Both candidates’ proposals seem to have major upside, but analysts have spotted big holes in both plans.
Jason Delisle, director of the New America Foundation’s Federal Education Budget Project, said that Romney’s plan would cause problems with its performance-based incentives.
“I’m not entirely sure that it would be a model for the country,” Delisle said in an interview with The Daily Ticker. “There’s a certain culture around these student aid programs. They are to provide open access and not necessarily direct aid to certain types of students, based on their performance.”
Delisle also released a paper criticizing Obama’s plan. In an interview with MSNBC, he explained the biggest flaw of Obama’s lowering of the IBR.
“The more you borrow, the more you can have forgiven,” said Delisle. “The provision doesn’t really have any safeguard so that someone earning a substantial income wouldn’t be disqualified from getting loan forgiveness.”
As the election circles closer, college students will have to pay attention closely to both candidates. It appears that both are capable of brilliant ideas and flawed ones.