President Obama works the rope line during campaign stop last week on the campus of Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo.
As the cost of a college education rises, students across the nation are struggling to pay tuition. To garner the support of college-age voters, President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney have presented plans to battle the growing financial burden of higher education.
Tuitions for four-year public universities rose 15 percent between 2008 and 2010, the Associated Press reported in June.
Nonprofit colleges and universities saw increases of about 4.6 percent last year, according to the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.
At Yale University, for example, tuition rose from $40,500 to $42,300, though financial aid rose 2.5 percent, The Yale Daily News recently reported.
Schools that are struggling financially, like the University of Central Florida, saw increases as high as 15 percent this fall.
Obama and Romney’s proposed paths to resolving the issue of increasing tuition are divergent.
Obama says he plans to increase student funding from Pell Grants, which bases funding on financial need and college costs and doesn’t have to be repaid, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Obama also wants to make permanent the American Opportunity tax credit, which as of now will expire on Jan. 1.
Romney — whose critics say has not provided a detailed solution — plans to redirect Pell Grants to students in greater need and stress the importance of lowering tuition to the nation, the AP reported.
“What I’m going to tell you is shop around,” Romney told a voter in March, according to the AP.
Emory senior Steffi Delcourt says she isn’t surprised that Obama is the leading candidate among college voters, as polls show.
Delcourt depends on financial aid for her education, and she says the democratic candidate’s approach to rising costs is simply more appealing than Romney’s.
“He has a solid plan of how he is going to help the everyday college student,” Delcourt says. “Increasing the Pell Grant by [about] $100 doesn’t seem like much. But for the college student who’s receiving it, it helps a lot because every bit counts.”
Delcourt says she’s disappointed that Romney has not yet provided a more detailed explanation of his plans to reduce tuition rates. She also disagrees with Romney’s idea to once again allow private lenders to issue student loans.
But some college voters support Romney’s plans.
Emory senior Nick Going says he feels Obama’s plan to raise Pell Grants slightly “would not do enough to resolve the issue at hand.”
“Romney and Ryan want to work to reduce tuition in general, where as President Obama’s plan would only increase government assistance for tuition payments,” Going says of why he supports Romney.
For other students, though, the candidates’ opposing plans to lower college tuition hasn’t had a major influence on their votes.
“Although important, it isn’t my first priority when it comes to voting,” Johns Hopkins junior Frances Grinfeld says. “I want to go to medical school, so health care is kind of my number one.”
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