Higher Ed Mostly on Margins of Second Debate

October 17, 2012

Tuesday night's presidential debate started out with a question about higher education, as a college student asked President Obama and Mitt Romney about his employment prospects after graduation. Obama went over what his administration has done on higher education, including the changes to the federal student loan program that added new funding to Pell Grants.

Romney said he expected the Pell Grant program to continue growing if he were to become president, a reversal from previous statements, when he said he'd try to change eligibility rules to limit the program's growth. He also said that, in seeking to change the tax code, he might cap the amount of credits or deductions taxpayers could take rather than seeking to eliminate specific benefits, including tax benefits for college tuition.

Education advisers to both campaigns have held debates of their own in the past few days. At a debate at the American Enterprise Institute between Jon Schnur, executive chairman of America Achieves and an adviser to the Obama campaign, and Martin West, an assistant professor of education at Harvard and an adviser to the Romney campaign, West said the administration's regulations on for-profit colleges unfairly targeted the sector. In response to a question about affirmative action, Schnur said the president does not believe in quotas but does believe in diversity.

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