Obama, GOP Duel Over Rising College Expenses

Ann McClure's picture

President Barack Obama would make tax credits for college expenses permanent and expand Pell grants for students from lower-earning families. The Republican team of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan would emphasize the need to curb rising tuitions and federal education spending that are burdening families and the government.

The different approaches to coping with growing college costs highlight one way that Obama and the GOP ticket are competing for young voters. This important group leaned heavily toward Obama in 2008 and still prefers him, according to polls, though less decisively.

Tuitions and fees for four-year public colleges grew by 72 percent above inflation over the past decade, averaging $8,244 last year, according to the College Board, which represents more than 6,000 schools. Student loan debt in the U.S. has hit $914 billion; the average borrower owes more than $24,000, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York says.

Democrats are sure to reach for the college vote at the party's national convention in Charlotte, N.C., a week after Obama spoke to students in university towns in Virginia, Colorado and Iowa. Romney was counting on his youngest son, Craig, and the 42-year-old Ryan to court young supporters.

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