Second Presidential Debate Kicks Off with Higher Education Concerns

By Catherine Groux
Posted October 17, 2012 12:00 PM

The second presidential debate began with questions about higher education.
The second presidential debate began with questions about higher education.
The second presidential debate opened with a question from a 20-year-old college student who expressed his concern that once he earns a bachelor's degree, he will not be able to find a job and support himself. With an unemployment rate hovering just below 8%, many students have the same concerns, fearing the investment of their time and money will not be worth it after graduation.

Mitt Romney

Republican nominee Mitt Romney fielded the question first, stating that one part of the solution to the country's higher education crisis is making college more affordable. On a national scale, Romney hopes to lower students' debts by continuing the federal Pell Grant program and supporting various types of loans.

Romney said his commitment to lowering the price of college is evident in the work he did as the governor of Massachusetts. While in the state, students had to pass the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) to graduate from high school. Youths whose MCAS scores were in the top quarter of their school district were awarded the John and Abigail Adams Scholarship, which covers four years of tuition at any state institution.

The second part of Romney's solution is creating more jobs so that college graduates can leave school confident they will be able to enter the workforce and put their skills to use.

"I know what it takes to create good jobs again," Romney said. "I know what it takes to make sure that you have the kind of opportunity you deserve. And kids across this country are going to recognize we’re bringing back an economy. It’s not going to be like the last four years. The middle class has been crushed over the last four years, and jobs have been too scarce. I know what it takes to bring them back, and I’m going to do that and make sure when you get a job." 

Barack Obama

In his response, President Obama also emphasized the need to create more jobs, specifically those in the manufacturing and energy industries. If re-elected, Obama said he plans to give tax incentives to small businesses and other companies operating in the U.S. to ensure they thrive and create more jobs across the nation. Additionally, he plans to continue to invest in solar energy, wind energy and biofuels, as well as oil and natural gas. In doing so, he said he will lead the nation toward a more stable future and continue to expand the number of jobs available to Americans.

Like Romney, Obama also touched upon the need to make higher education more affordable by supporting federal programs like Pell Grants and expanding services offered by community colleges.

"...We've got to make sure that we have the best education system in the world," Obama told the young college student during the debate. "And the fact that you're going to college is great, but I want everybody to get a great education. And we worked hard to make sure that student loans are available for folks like you, but I also want to make sure that community colleges are offering slots for workers to get retrained for the jobs that are out there right now and the jobs of the future."

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