Romney’s Speech on Education

Former Massachussetts Governor Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, outlined his position on federal student aid in a speech to the Latino Coalition in Washington, D.C. yesterday.

While most of Romney’s remarks focused on K-12 education and his support of a voucher-type program for special needs and low income students, he did propose changes to the federal financial aid program and vowed to keep tuition affordable. In a white paper that was released as part of the speech, Romney tied rising tuition to increases in student aid:

. . . a flood of federal dollars is driving up tuition and burdening too many young Americans with substantial debt and too few opportunities.

Speaking to The Chronicle of Higher Education Terry Hartle of the American Council on Education said he was disappointed that Romney did not mention declining state aid as a primary reason for tuition increases saying that “(t)here’s no evidence of any relationship—let alone causation—between federal student-aid spending and changes in college tuition. None, zero, zip, nada.”

The former governor also plans to simplify student aid programs and return to bank-based lending, which was phased out two years ago. Romney supports “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.” The Department of Education now loans money directly to students with savings steered toward Pell Grants and deficit reduction.

Until this speech, Romney had offered few details regarding his position on higher education. President Obama outlined his higher education agenda in a speech at the University of Michigan in January.