Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee, has spent the past week railing against “bad schools” and the “corrupting influence of the private school system” as he seeks to appeal to the college-educated vote.
In a major speech on Thursday night, Romney laid out a plan to improve higher education, and in a separate speech on Friday, he proposed a new federal law that would allow the private sector to offer some federal aid to students.
Romney’s plan is different from the Obama administration’s plan, which would have offered a small number of tax credits to help students pay for private tuition, and it doesn’t explicitly offer a voucher program, unlike the current Romney proposal.
But it has similarities to the Romney campaign’s earlier proposal to create an education-related tax credit of up to $2,500 for families earning less than $250,000 a year, a program that Romney has long championed.
That plan was blocked in Congress by Democrats, and the Obama White House has argued that the current plan isn�t worth pursuing.
But Romney said Friday that his proposal, which he called the �most ambitious education policy in the history of the nation, would create an additional $1.2 trillion in new federal funding over the next decade and create tens of thousands of jobs in the private industry.
In his speech, Romney said his plan would increase tuition for students who earn between $125,000 and $250.
million and would eliminate tuition for some of the country�s most disadvantaged students.
He also touted his plans to provide financial aid for college students who can�t afford to pay full tuition.
While Romney has proposed providing tuition aid for students, he hasn�t yet detailed the program.
Romney�s speech Friday, in addition to laying out the specifics of his plan, also focused on education policy, focusing on the education of the next generation.
The former Massachusetts governor, who has promised to restore Pell Grants for low-income students, and who has a strong personal connection to higher education as a child in Boston, touted his plan to help those students, who have historically struggled to afford the cost of attending college.
Romney said that students in his own hometown in Massachusetts would be able to afford to go to college, because they would be allowed to qualify for Pell Grants if they are able to earn at least half of the federal poverty level ($18,085 for a family of four) and can earn at or below the federal median wage.
The Obama administration has argued, however, that this plan isn �lazy.� The White House said in a statement Friday that Romney� s plan would �give students an extra $2.4 trillion in federal aid over the course of the decade.
That�s money that could help students to pay for tuition, housing, and other needs.
The president noted that students currently pay $1,000 more in tuition than the federal government pays for them, and that Pell Grants are a �key way to get people back to college.� In the speech, he also called for better public education, saying that if students don�t have access to an education, they are more likely to be discouraged from going to college.
The Romney campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
While the president noted the potential impact of a Romney education plan, he said in his speech that the president would be �not interested in getting into specifics about how we would help students who are struggling financially.� In an interview Friday with the Wall Street Journal, Romney defended his policies and said he wanted to be a president who was focused on helping Americans who need it the most.
Romney, who is facing serious headwinds in the polls, made his first campaign appearance in Ohio on Thursday, a state that he won in 2012 and is hoping to win in 2016.
He said he has made an effort to �take a balanced approach� and is optimistic about winning in the Buckeye State.