Fact Check: Obama Ad Says Romney Plan Would Hurt College Students

By Steve Kanigher

Published 08/22 2012 08:03PM

Updated 08/23 2012 04:29PM

Claim: An advertisement endorsed by President Barack Obama that is airing on KLAS-TV Channel 8 starts with a narrator who states: "Mitt Romney on how to pay for college and start a business." Romney: "Take a risk, get the education, borrow money if you have to from your parents." Narrator: "Hope they can afford it. Romney's plans could cut college aid for nearly 10 million students and eliminate the tax deduction for college tuition."

Verdict: Partly true and partly misleading. Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, reportedly would permit expiration of the American Opportunity Tax Credit that was established in the Obama-backed 2009 economic stimulus package. That's according to the nonprofit Tax Policy Center, a collaboration of the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution think tanks. The tax credit, set to expire at the end of this year, is intended to help parents and students pay for college expenses. The Washington Post, among others, also reported that the federal budget plan from Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, Romney's presumptive vice presidential running mate, also would allow the tax credit to expire. As for the claim that "Romney's plan" would hurt nearly 10 million students, that allegation was first made in March by Obama appointee Jeff Zients, who serves as the administration's acting director of the Office of Management and Budget. But when Zients reached the conclusion that "9.6 million students would see their Pell Grants fall by more than $1,000 in 2014," he wasn't referring to a plan from Romney. It was in reference to the House Republican budget resolution for fiscal 2013, the plan backed by Ryan. Since selecting Ryan as his running mate, Romney has been tied to the congressman's budget plan by Democrats who have attempted to recast it as Romney's proposal. Even Ed Gillespie, a senior advisor to the Republican presidential campaign, was quoted by the Associated Press on Aug. 12 as saying that Romney would sign Ryan's plan as president. But Gillespie also said that if elected, Romney would "be putting forth his own budget." The ad also leaves viewers with the mistaken impression that Romney doesn't have any proposals to help students afford a college education. His plans include strengthening and simplifying the financial aid system, greater participation from the private sector in student financing and elimination of regulations he says drive education costs higher.

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