How will higher education fare in the election?

By Laura Devaney, Managing Editor
November 5th, 2012

For-profit education and higher-ed funding are likely to feel the impact of the presidential election.

As the nation edges closer to final results from the Nov. 6 presidential election, many higher-education stakeholders are outlining how each candidate’s victory might affect funding and policy for colleges and universities.

During a Nov. 2 webinar featuring a handful of college and university experts, panelists agreed that both candidates want college to be more affordable. But while President Obama wants to increase federal funding for Pell Grants and other higher-education programs as part of his strategy, Republican candidate Mitt Romney has said he would not funnel additional government aid to schools. Instead, he wants colleges to seek more competitive and innovative ways to deliver that affordability.

Kris Amundson, director of strategic communications at Education Sector; Trish Brennan-Gac, senior policy advisor and consultant with Learning Point Associates; and Sally Stroup, vice president and legal counsel at the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, addressed some key policy issues and also pinpointed a few areas that are of particular concern to the higher-education community.

College affordability

An Obama administration likely would propose more across-the-board funding than a Romney administration, Stroup said.

“I think one place where you will see some disagreement is in who is the provider of student loans,” Amundson said. “Obama took a good deal of that away from the banks, and that’s where [his administration] got the money they used to increase the total they were giving away in Pell Grants. Romney reps have said that’s something he would rescind and bring banks back into it.”

Paul Ryan, Romney’s vice presidential running mate, proposed a budget that would do more in terms of freezing the maximum Pell Grant level, she added. Ryan’s House budget plan would keep the top Pell Grant award in the coming school year at $5,500 but in future years would reduce the number of students eligible, not the award sums. In other words, fewer students would receive Pell Grants, but the neediest would not see their awards changed.

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2 Responses to “How will higher education fare in the election?”

November 6, 2012

Romeny stated that students should get an education that they can afford. If that were true, I wouldn’t be able to afford any education, neither would my children. My everyday living expenses keep me from being able to put anything away for an education. Yet, my annual salary of $58,000 keeps me or my children from qualifying for any PELL grant assistance. I agree that not all education is created equal. An overhaul does need to be done. MOCC’s are a great option. I earned my Master’s through one, however not all of them are created equal. My husband is in one now and all it is, is a brick and motar program but on an electronic service. Not very cutting edge.

Only passing mention was made of the ability to get changes through the Congress. The President, of either party, can only do so much by Executive Order. I don’t hear much about significant changes in the composition of either the Senete or the House, without which the legislative deadlocks will likely continue. Even on issues that have been traditionally bi-partisan, like education, I would expect the partisan deadlocks to be difficult for the President, whoever that turns out to be, to overcome. Otherwise, any change will be marginal, at best, and “tinkering”, which often turns out to be worse than no change at all.

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