North Carolinians understand the role of providing a quality higher education to stay competitive in a global economy. But, state Republicans have continuously cut higher education budgets from the moment that they took over the state legislature after the 2010 election. And, its not just state Republicans. In fact, it seems to be an entire Republican Party platform to cut education from K to 12.
This week’s looming July 1st deadline to stop federal subsidized student loan interest rates from doubling has once again demonstrated just how big of a difference in priorities that Democrats and Republicans have. If Congress does not act this week, the interest rate on federal Stafford loans will double for more than 160,000 North Carolinians, and more than 7.9 million students nationwide. That means an additional $1,000 every year, on average, in interest costs – about $127 million per year in total for North Carolina students.
As Congressman David Price said Monday at an event at North Carolina State University: “This is real money. It could be put to a lot better uses: buying textbooks, investing in a start-up, starting an IRA, especially in this economy."
Keeping college affordable for middle-class families should be top of mind for elected officials. But, that’s not the case for Republicans. Mitt Romney and D.C. Republicans claim to support making college affordable but where is their leadership on this issue just days before the rates are set to expire? They are oddly silent on an issue they claim to care about.
It’s really no surprise that Mitt Romney is nowhere to be found on college affordability. From advocating for larger class sizes to telling students to “shop around” or to just borrow from their parents, Mitt Romney continues to show how out of touch he is with concerns of middle-class families. He’s more interested in attacking the President than helping students or leading his party. He hasn’t stood up to Congressional Republicans or put forth a real plan to keep student loan interest rates low.
He has even endorsed the Ryan budget, which would slash funding for Pell Grants, costing the average North Carolina student $830 per year, and would eliminate work-study opportunities for nearly 130,000 students – including over 3,000 in North Carolina. What’s worse, Romney wants to use the savings from these cuts to reduce millionaires’ taxes by an average of $250,000 a year, while letting tax credits that help working families expire – including the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which gave North Carolina students and their families an average tax cut of $1,800 last year.
President Obama understands how hard it is for middle-class families to put their children through college. That’s why he has been fighting to make education affordable since the day he took office, working with Congress to double funding for Pell Grants, ease repayment of student loans, and triple the largest college tax credit.
If Mitt Romney wants to be President, he needs to lead on these issues. Or at least take a real position on them.
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