Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Paul Ryan’s roadmap to losing youth support


On Aug. 12, Rep. Paul Ryan was announced as Mitt Romney’s running mate for the 2012 United States presidential election.

Known as a staunch fiscal conservative, he has become well-known for his budget plan, the “Roadmap for America,” which he released last year. Ryan’s appointment has been scrutinized from a number of different angles. Most focus on Ryan’s appeal to different groups and whether his candidacy will help or hinder the Romney campaign.

One demographic Romney and Ryan will absolutely target to some extent is college students, a group that came out heavily in favor of President Barack Obama in 2008. Youth tend to lean liberal, as do college students. Taking a chunk out of one of Obama’s key constituencies would go a long way towards securing the election for the Republican Party.

Unfortunately, on issues that are important to college students, Ryan’s record falls short. Based on his “Roadmap” budget plan and previous statements, Ryan has a poor record of supporting college students and higher education in general.

One issue Ryan comes up short in that resonates with nearly all students, and has been a key issue in the 2012 campaign, is student debt. This past May, the total student debt in the U.S. passed $1 trillion, and now exceeds the total credit card debt in the country. These unfortunate milestones brought the issue of student debt into the forefront of the national consciousness, and become a political issue for the Democrats and Republicans to grapple over.

Ryan’s “Roadmap” fails students on the issue of student debt because it slashes federal financial aid money, money many students rely on in order to get through college. Eligibility for Pell Grants would be severely tightened and students attending college part-time wouldn’t be able to receive Pell Grants at all.

The underlying theory behind these cuts is what should trouble students.

“The goal of federal financial aid is to make college more affordable, but there is growing evidence that wholesale increases in aid have had the opposite effect,” Ryan wrote in an editorial for the Wisconsin State Journal. “Instead of helping more students achieve their dreams, these increases are simply being absorbed by (and potentially enabling) large tuition increases.”

Ryan offers none of the “growing evidence” in his piece. Yet it is used as justification for the cuts to education in his “Roadmap,” portraying it as beneficial to college students despite the fact that many will no longer even attend college without their federal aid. This sugarcoating of the cuts to the budget is what makes it easy to overlook the drastic nature of the cuts.

Ryan also has publicly supported for-profit higher education, falling in line with the Republican Party’s traditional support for it. For-profit higher education has widely been criticized by the rest of the educational community for prioritizing making a profit before benefitting students.

According to a July 29 article in the New York Times, citing facts from a two-year congressional report led by Sen. Tom Harkin, “taxpayers spent $32 billion in the most recent year on companies that operate for-profit colleges, but the majority of students they enroll leave without a degree, half of those within four months.” Students at for-profit colleges are failed by the educational quality of the institutions yet still pay exorbitant amounts of tuition, plus fees, which becomes money that goes directly into the profit margins of the corporation running the institution.

The reason taxpayers are losing so much money on for-profit colleges is because for-profit colleges rely largely on federal aid to make money. Specifically, for-profit colleges rely on federal student aid programs for nearly 90 percent of their revenue. Bizarrely, this is the same federal student aid money that Ryan’s “Roadmap” would see the federal government cut. The two seemingly incongruous positions reveal Ryan’s poor understanding of the issues surrounding higher education.

The most recent Gallup polls indicate that Romney was trailing Obama in voters aged between 18 and 29 years old, the ages of the majority of undergraduate and grad students, by a sizable margin: 57 percent in support for Obama, compared to only 35 percent for Romney.

Ryan’s record for higher education and for college students should do nothing to change that.

Billy Rainsford is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at [email protected].


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  • B

    Big MSep 11, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    Students may think that “Lyin Ryan” and “Myth Romney” aren’t the answer to their over priced educations. However my question is, when do you start blaming Obummer? You may have the 90+ thousand education but you can’t get a job because Bacrock hates private sector business and that’s what creates jobs. Jobs you need so you can work to pay off the money you borrowed. Nobody put a gun to your head and said you need to borrow a ton of cash for an education, or that a higher education guarantees you anything. The reason higher education cost so much is because you actually pay what they are asking! If everyone went to a more economical school and the ivy leaguers weren’t covering their bills, tuition would drop in price. Don’t ever think it is about educating you, it is all about the money, but what do I know, I went to a cheap college and make more a year than you owe.

  • S

    SteveEVSep 11, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    I hope students apply their advanced skills of reading comprehension and critical thinking when faced with the issues and proposals of this election. A surprising number of voters do not show the ability or the attention span to look beyond the sound bites.

  • M

    MikeSep 7, 2012 at 8:15 am

    Myth Romney & Lyin Ryan are nothing more than faces for the for-profit college industry.

    Romney has been getting donations left and right from for-profit colleges like FULL SAIL (which he advertises for) and Education management corp (“Art Institutes”).

    This industry is basically an elaborate scam to draw government money out of the poor and vulnerable and leave them with the bill.
    They are 90% funded by gov Pell & Gov Fed loans, and the other 10% comes from GI BILL. Basically, they could be 100% government funded. Students don’t know any better because they’re lured in under deceptive practices.

    Because its government money and these companies have many other companies they partner up with to hide the true default rates, they have an endless supply of victims.

    For-profit colleges think that because Harvard & other ivy league schools can charge high fees that they can.

    They offer LESS quality & results than a community college.
    They market heavily and try to hide the truth.

    I know well about these schools because I attended two of them in MA before I realized what they were.

    Katherine Gibbs (Renamed: Sanford Brown, still owned by Career Education Corp) who gave me the WRONG DEGREE & The New England Institute of Art (“The Art Institutes” ir “Ai” by Education Management Corp)between 2003 and 2006.

    I now have $93,000 worth of debt and nothing to show for it and no way to ever pay it. Most of that is PRIVATE loans which I was lied to and told were Federal so they could maximize the amount of Federal loans they were getting in a short period of time. I believe this was a partnership with SallieMae or even SallieMae IN their financial aid offices acting as school employees.