Candidates’ take on future of financial aid

Diego Saldaña/ Staff Writer

Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama have different takes on the topic of higher education, specifically on the issue of financial aid.

Romney’s education plan calls for the Pell Grant to allocate funds to the students who need it the most. Paul Ryan, Romney’s running mate, calls for $115 billion to be cut from the Department of Education which, in turn, would cost millions of students their Pell Grants.

Ryan’s plan would not be in effect until after next year and would not reduce the amount for those students who need it the most.

According to the White House website, the president has raised the amount for the federal Pell Grant for 2013- 2014 aid year to $5,635. The website also says the number of Pell Grant recipients has increased by 50 percent since 2008.

In contrast, Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan, would reduce funding for Pell grants in his budget, increase eligibility requirements and freeze the maximum grant at $5,550.

With over 21,000 undergraduates at the University receiving Pell Grants, Financial Aid Director Francisco Valines noted that the issue of financial aid is an important one for students in this upcoming election.

“I would not be able to be here; it’s essential,” said Kieron Williams, a junior English major, when asked if Pell Grants and student loans were vital for him to attend the University.

A similar response was given by Diego Posada, a freshman criminal justice major, who said the aid was important “because otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to afford college.”

In regards to student loans, the president has urged Congress to keep interest rates low for the millions of students who use federal subsidized loans, according to the White House website. Also, Stafford loans remained at 3.4 percent this past summer, instead of doubling.

Romney’s education plans disapprove of Obama’s nationalization of the student loan market and encourages private sector involvement. His plan also does not support forgiving student loans if a student claims he or she cannot repay them.

“[Raising interest rates] would affect me tremendously,” said Natasha Chirinos, a sophomore health services major. “I assume that it will put me in a lot of debt once I finish my degree here in FIU. I don’t consider that to be a good thing at all.”

When asked if they knew that either president would want to cut federal funding for either the Pell grant or loans and if it would sway their vote, all the students interviewed by Student Media responded that it would.

Posada said he would be voting for Obama because “… his agenda is to provide more funding for grants.”

“I feel like there should be more private investors in federal aid,” Williams said. “I also think there should be more eligibility…. We should make it more available as long as it doesn’t create a bigger deficit.”

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