The federal government plays an important role in higher education.
Not surprisingly, the two presidential candidates, President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney, offered cut-and-dried alternative plans to funding higher education. Obama’s plan was for the government to spend more money to help families pay for education. Romney planned to cut money spent on aid to save taxpayers’ money.
“I think education and student funding is something that will be affected the most following this election,” said Michael Martinez, professor and chair for the Department of Political Science at the University of Florida. “Financial aid will become more available for students than it would if Romney was in office.”
Despite Obama’s plan to cut federal aid interest rates in half, Martinez believes there will still be pressure to increase tuition altogether because of the number of Republican representatives.
“We are on a brink of falling off the fiscal cliff,” Martinez said. “There probably will still be some cutting of government funding, but I think the cuts Obama will take will be a lot less than the ones Romney would have taken.”
Some who agree with Obama and his position on education funding said his stance is more legitimate than Romney’s due to the experiences that Obama had with education.
David Jackson Jr., professor and chair of the Department of History at Florida A&M, said Obama has a better understanding on the need for government aid after living through it.
“In the case of President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, they only paid off their student loans from Harvard Law just a few years before Obama became president,” Jackson said. “These are individuals who relied on financial aid and other government resources to get to where they are today. This is different for Mitt Romney, who was born with a silver spoon.”
Jackson supports Obama’s position on educating the nation to advance and compete with other countries. More than 90 percent of the FAMU student body is on some form of financial aid, so most students are grateful for an opportunity to further their education.
Rachel Hayes, a social work student from Pensacola, receives government support while she works her way through college. She is thankful for Obama’s re-election and said Romney did not understand the middle class struggle.
“Romney doesn’t have to stress about his kids going to college because he can afford it very easily,” Hayes said. “Struggling people as myself, who rely on financial aid and government support, wouldn’t be here without it. I would still be at home with a low-income job and no education.”