It is still uncertain how presidential candidate Mitt Romney plans to benefit current and future college students between his promises to create new jobs and condemnations of Obama’s policies.
During the recent Republican National Convention in Tampa, thousands of people gathered to rally behind Romney and his support group. Romney’s supporters include many notable figures such as his running mate Paul Ryan, former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and actor Clint Eastwood.
The convention’s major speakers did not say much about the extreme increase in public university tuition during the past four years or the party’s plan to make higher education more affordable. Completely overlooking this issue is irresponsible and inexcusable on Romney’s part, especially if his focal point is improving the economy.
“I am running for president to help create a better future,” Romney said Aug. 30 at the Republican National Convention. “A future where everyone who wants a job can find a job, where no senior fears for the security of their retirement, an America where every parent knows that their child will get an education that leads to a good job and a bright horizon. And unlike the president, I have a plan to create 12 million new jobs.”
What are the exact aspects of his plan? Only Romney seems to know.
We do have a general idea of Romney’s policies from his year-old “59-point plan.” The plan details his ideas on creating jobs, increasing oil drilling and organizing free-trade agreements with other countries. However, his plan’s single reference to education pertains to student visas rather than student debt.
Republican speakers, including Rice, emphasized solidifying a strong math and science foundation in K-12 education in order to compete with India and China. In previous interviews, Romney’s response to the increasing cost of higher education was to push for more technical schools, junior colleges, for-profit institutions and online universities so people can search for the best option based on price tags. In addition, Romney supports placing more of the responsibility for public institutions on individual states, limiting Pell Grant recipients and restricting the amount of grant aid given.
Romney’s main argument in his “59-point plan” is to lower taxes for businesses and allow business owners to be job creators, which in return will ignite the sputtering economy. But not everyone is as fortunate as Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. We can’t all become such incredible job creators without a complete college education. Many large business owners and corporation leaders hold advanced degrees and have disadvantaged backgrounds, including Howard Schultz, chairman and CEO of Starbucks.
Between balancing the budget and growing debt, states are struggling to handle their own fiscal situations. Statewide tuition increases and academic budget cuts have burdened students across the U.S. for years now. Republican policies, or lack thereof, would prove to be even more troublesome for students than the current ones.
When a four-year degree is financially out of reach, how can we expect individuals to become economy-saving job creators when they cannot afford to learn first?
—Ravi Venkataraman is a creative writing masters student.