The appearance was part of a push this week to highlight the president’s education policy.
“Over the past couple of decades, over the last 20 years, tuition and fees at America’s colleges and universities have more than doubled,” Obama said. “The average student who borrows to pay for college now graduates with about $26,000 in student loan debt.
“And living with that kind of debt means you’ve got to make tough choices, especially when you’re first starting out. It may mean putting off starting a family or buying a home.”
The President then went on to say how student-loan debt harms the economy because it deters spending at local businesses and slammed Romney for suggesting that students borrow money from their parents or “shop around.”
“Gov. Romney didn’t say anything about grants or loan programs that have helped millions of students earn a college education,” Obama said. “He didn’t say anything about work-study programs, or rising college tuition.
“He did not say a single word about community colleges, or how important higher education is to America’s economic future.”
But the president’s attack against Romney, nor his increased funding of federal grant and student-loan programs have put a dent into increases in college tuition and fees in the three and half years of the Obama presidency.
Nontheless, college tuition increased by 15 percent in Obama’s first two years in office despite the President’s increased spending on federal college financial aid, and unemployment among recent graduates has increased from 12.4 percent to 13.5 percent since Obama took office.
The Obama administration doubled funding of the federal Pell grant program from $16.5 billion in 2008 to $32.3 billion in 2010 and would increase funding to $51 billion by 2020.
The Heritage Foundation contends that the Obama policies have created a perverse incentive for colleges and universities to drive up tuition.
“Increasing federal subsidies for higher education—whether in the form of Pell grants or student loans—shifts the responsibility of paying for college from the student, who directly benefits from college, to the taxpayer, ”Heritage expert Lindsey Burke wrote in a Nov. 2010 memo. “Transferring the burden of student loan financing from university graduates — who earn on average twice that of someone with a high school diploma — to the three-quarters of taxpayers who did not attend college is unjust.”
Burke contends that the Obama plan will do little to increase college graduation rates or to make college more affordable in the long run.
The Obama plan strikes a populist chord, but it has failed to address the causes behind runaway college tuition or bring it under control.