Higher Education And The GOP Candidates: What Do They Have To Say?

Higher Education And The GOP Candidates: What Do They Have To Say?

One of the foremost topics in President Obama's 2012 State of the Union speech was the need to make higher education more affordable and accessible, by keeping tuition costs down, increasing student aid and retaining immigrant students.

"Higher education can’t be a luxury – it’s an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford," he said.

He echoed this sentiment during a speech at the University of Michigan on Friday, saying “Congress needs to do more. They need to stop the interest rates on student loans from doubling this July. That's what’s scheduled to happen if Congress doesn't act. That would not be good for [students]."

On the other end of the political spectrum, GOP candidates have remained relatively quiet about their views on higher education.

So what do the GOP candidates have to say about the future of American higher education? Check out the list below: (NOTE: all sources linked)

If there is something I have missed for any of these candidates, please comment below.

What are your thoughts on the GOP candidates views on higher education?  Do you think higher education can be saved by for-profit colleges or cutting federal loans?  Do you agree that universities create left-wing students?  Let us know!  Comment below, or talk to us on Facebook/Twitter. (Photo Credit: Flickr/DonkeyHotey)


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  • President Obama's idea of making a university education more "affordable" will ultimately make it more expensive, as happens when government distorts the value of a product and service and the market it encompasses.

    One can argue that it has been "easy" money in the form of loans and government student loans that have caused the inflation in university costs. The pricing and cost of an education is relieved from the institution itself and off-sourced to a third party -- the government (through the students/customers). If Big Education kept the market cost of education in mind and did not have the easy money flow, they would have to reign in costs, be it administration or teacher pay, and strike the right balance in cost vs value.

    Suppose Best Buy customers could get low-cost, long term loans that could be forgivable, for their products, what incentive do they have to sell a computer for what it is worth? None. This would be the case, especially, if HH Gregg and all other retailers had customers with an easy supply of money. Instead of a good laptop costing $700, Best Buy and others could charge a customer $2000 for it. And have a sales person take care of the transaction who is paid at $100 dollars per hour. Why not? The costs of the computer, like the cost of education, has been socialized. Everybody who is not going to university or hypothetically buying a computer pays for it, not the actual customer, not in its entirety.

    A good example is the cost of just private tuition at a local university I attended in the late 1970's. Per semester it was $1000. It started going up exponentially as I was in school and loans and grants started becoming more widely available. Now I image the tuition is at least ten times that and is much more than the normal inflation rate.

    Obama's plan will lead to higher costs and worse service, as the customer ( the student) will not be shaping the market, but the heavy hand of government.

    I'm ready for the bricks to be thrown. Ducking now...

  • In reply to Richard Davis:

    Thank you so much for your comment as well as reading this post! I think you bring up some really good points. I appreciate that you pointed out that just because Obama brings the issue to the table does not mean he has a foolproof solution. However, it distresses me that the GOP candidates have barely even touched the topic, something I found when researched for this post.

    I think one thing that makes higher education especially difficult is that we need to balance the rising cost of tuition with the ability to enable students of all economic backgrounds to attend school. What I appreciate about Obama's idea, is that finally there would be an end to the tuition rates, which I have seen go up at every one of the schools of my peers, state universities (which used to be the cheap option) go up even more than private universities. Of course I would prefer more full aid than loans, however, if I didn't take out the loans I would not be able to attend college at all. Is that worth it when a college education is necessary to find employment after graduation? Therefore, if we could find a way to combat rising tuition and focus on more ways to finance education fully, more students could be educated without crippling debt post-graduation OR a decrease in the quality of programs. I also think that more focus on community colleges is a good solution, in order to combat costs and create stronger technical programs in industries where jobs are being created. Thoughts on that?

    One article I found that discusses both ends of the matter is this one from Inside Higher Ed- you may find it interesting! http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/01/26/obama-plan-tie-tuition-prices-aid-eligibility-draws-criticism

    Thanks again.

  • Not to mention that many of these universities are sitting on huge endowments which used only to a small percentage for education costs. How is that justified in this new world of "shared sacrifice"? It isn't. But you will hear nothing about it. Nothing.

  • In reply to Richard Davis:

    This is also a good point, but I will point out that many endowments come with strings attached. Perhaps the donor allotted that money can only be used for a new athletic facility (due to their good experience with athletics) or a new alumni center. There are a lot of politics that go along with that as well. In addition, endowments have been dropping as the recession has kept smaller donors from being able to allot funds.

  • Has it ever occurred to Santorum that X% of students lose their faith when they go to college because they're finally free from the indoctrination of their childhood and allowed to think for themselves? It has nothing to do with either political party.

    As for Gingrich saying that college students are "coddled....with luxury dorms and lavish extras" - he clearly hasn't visited many college dorms recently. My daughter has what's considered a nice dorm room (ie. has a microwave), but I still wouldn't want to live in it. The "extras" he's probably thinking of are Wi-fi and printers, which are now necessary at college since most professors won't accept hand-written papers and many require students to send them on-line. Again, nothing to do with politics, just the way of the 21st century.

  • In reply to Expat in Chicago:

    I think you make a really good point. I would also point out that many students live off-campus in apartments or houses where they pay rent/utilities themselves, without any aid and certainly without luxuries.

    Thanks for reading!

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