On Nov. 6, we will have an opportunity to make a choice that could impact our lives and those of others on a day-to-day basis for years to come. With this in mind, we endorse Barack Obama for re-election in 2012. His administration has not only championed a progressive social platform and guided our nation through a potentially disastrous economic meltdown, but has also worked to improve the standards of living for college students across the United States.
We acknowledge that Obama’s presidency has by no means been perfect. He is a charismatic politician and a hardworking leader, but the fact remains that after a full term, the Patriot Act has been expanded, and Guantanamo Bay is still open. Obama’s foreign policy decisions and their implications for civilian deaths in country where the United States has a military presence have remained highly controversial. But given the policy differences between Obama and his Republican opponent Mitt Romney, we are confident that Obama is the stronger choice.
Obama is far more willing to engage with the demonstrated needs of students than Romney is. Brown students are very much aware of the fact that a university education comes with a hefty price tag – our tuition costs over $50,000 a year and continues to rise. While we are one of the more expensive universities in the country, the general trend of rising education costs places a burden of debt on recent graduates that can last for decades. In the past four years, Obama has undertaken serious efforts to make higher education more affordable.
Under his administration, Pell Grant scholarships have more than doubled in the last four years from $14.6 billion to $40 billion, and tax credits up to $10,000 have been offered to families in need. The federal student loan program has also been radically reformed, making it easier to request aid from the government, eliminating banks as the middlemen and allowing unpaid loans to be forgiven for borrowers who are unable to repay after 10 or 20 years.
Obama’s Affordable Care Act has improved student health plans and allowed individuals to remain on their parents’ insurance until they are 26 years old. It authorizes subsidies to offset insurance premiums when graduates enter the job market after college. These policies will especially impact lower- and middle-income students, allowing individuals from across the socioeconomic spectrum to receive an education.
Obama’s emphasis on more affordable education speaks to an understanding that education is vital not only to America’s economy, technological advancement and living standards, but also to the development of America’s presence on the international stage and the global quality of living. His increased aid to community colleges - especially important given a recent decline in state support to colleges – and attempts to extend government assistance to schools with demonstrated quality performance offer a sharp contrast to Romney’s policies, which involve plans for bank-based student lending and for reducing eligibility for Pell Grants, which would decrease the number of grants awarded.
Romney’s comments, attitudes and proposed policies throughout this election have shown that he is out of touch with college students who struggle with rising living costs and a meager job market. Romney picked a running mate who wants to eliminate more than 1 million students from federal aid, told students that they should “borrow money from their parents if they have to,” publicly supported undoing Obama’s loan reforms and issued a budget plan that would ultimately cut federal funding for education by 40 percent. Obama, at the very least, has taken steps to ensure the availability of education to an increasing number of people.
Before you go to the election booth on Tuesday, we ask that you consider carefully these two approaches to the education you are currently receiving, and decide for yourself which approach you think will benefit a future generation of college students.
Editorials are written by The Herald’s editorial page board: its editors, Daniel Jeon and Annika Lichtenbaum, and its members, Georgia Angell, Samuel Choi and Rachel Occhiogrosso. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.