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College affordability: The choice

With the average cost of a four-year public college now exceeding $17,000 a year, students are worried about how they’ll afford to pay for higher education. When it comes to college affordability, the difference between President Obama and Mitt Romney could not be clearer.

The President, who has worked to pay off his own student debts, has made affordable, quality higher education a priority. Romney, however, has a record of indifference, telling one student that he should just “shop around” for a school he can afford.

Take a look at the contrast between President Obama and Romney on student loans and support for students who are struggling to afford college.

Financial aid

President Obama: Doubled funding for Pell Grants, so an additional 3.7 million students would get college aid

Governor Romney: Praised the Ryan budget which would slash Pell Grants, costing the average student nearly $1,000 per year

President Obama: Created the American Opportunity Tax Credit, worth up to $10,000 for up to four years of college

Governor Romney: Wants the American Opportunity Tax Credit to expire

Student Loans

President Obama: Capped student loan payments at 10 percent of monthly income and is pushing Congress to prevent student loan interest rates from doubling on July 1

Governor Romney: Supports the Romney-Ryan budget—which would double the student loan rates, forcing more than 7 million students to pay up to $1,000 in costs over the life of that loan—even though he claims to want to maintain low rates

Tuition costs

President Obama: Proposed a plan that offers federal aid to states that curb higher education costs and rewards colleges that reduce costs and can successfully offer relatively lower tuition prices

Governor Romney: Allowed average public university costs to nearly double while he was governor and cut higher education programs across the state—cuts that disproportionately affected community colleges, where tuition in 2006 was 59 percent higher than the national average