Ballots cast in November will help decide how the federal government confronts the costs of college and what role the private sector plays in higher education.
Both President Obama and Mitt Romney tell students and families that they understand the financial strain caused by soaring tuition and swelling student debt, but they offer vastly different solutions to the problem.
If re-elected, Mr. Obama says he will try to defend the Pell Grant program from budget cuts and make sure that the amount of the grants increases as scheduled next year. He would work to extend a tax credit, set to expire in January, that gives individuals and families a tax break of up to $10,000 over four years of college. Mr. Obama would also push a proposal that would link some federal aid to colleges’ success in curbing tuition increases.
In a second term, Mr. Obama would continue a crackdown on for-profit colleges that was begun after investigations concluded that many of them were charging high tuition while producing low graduation rates and inadequately preparing those who did graduate for the workplace. The administration has already barred for-profit schools from tying bonuses for recruiters to the number of students they enroll.