As I return to the world of academia, one thing has become extremely apparent: I lack an understanding of certain fiscal policies. I could recite the reasons why Roe v. Wade should be overturned by heart, and I can easily debate why guns are crucial to a safe society, yet, ask me how Romney will deal with Pell Grants and I’m at a total loss. So in the interest of being able to articulate my stance and the stance of Governor Romney, I set out to research Pell Grants, their funding, and who exactly they are benefiting.

Pell Grants have received a slew of attention as the Obama campaign continues to emphasize how the Ryan budget would slash Pell Grant funding and leave one million students without a viable way to pay for college. And this, my friends, is just not true.

In fact, Congressman Paul Ryan is not looking to leave millions of college students without a way to pay for college; he is, however, looking for a way to solve an overwhelming debt crisis that has engulfed American society. The Ryan budget, in actuality, does little in the means of decreasing the maximum student loan of $5,500; instead his budget opposes Obama’s proposed increase for the next school year, which would re-establish the maximum federal student loan amount at $5,635.  The budget then calls for a cut in non-defense spending, leaving some to (incorrectly) speculate a reduction in Pell Grants by thousands of dollars. However, in reality, the Ryan budget, according to Rep. Ryan himself, would narrow the students chosen to receive Pell Grants to those who need it most. The cuts made in Ryan’s budget are not one-size-fits-all, and Pell Grants were not created for every student entering college — only those in dire financial straits.

Then, more recently, liberal outrage among young Democrats escalated when Romney insinuated that young people “shop around” before deciding on the best college to fit both their academic and their financial needs. Liberals seem to believe higher education is an inherent right, when in reality, more than half of the students who borrow loans to attend four-year for-profit colleges drop out. As Romney said, we need to put our funds not only towards allowing students to attend a college of their choosing, but just as importantly, making sure students stay in school, whether that be a four year college, a community college, or a trade school. Education is important, but not everyone needs a $200,000 diploma for his or her career of choice.

Last week Romney and Ryan held a victory town hall at my college, Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. They both addressed the issue of mounting student loans and the role of Pell Grants in our society. Romney pointed to the obvious issue that government subsidized loans are not free; in fact, we’ll be paying for them long after graduation. And Ryan pointed to the empty promises of Pell Grants; despite Obama’s promised increase in funding for Pell Grants he has no plan to fund them after two years. So while Democrats will whine and convince you that the Ryan budget is detrimental to the sanctity of higher education, in reality, Pell Grants are facing the same strife as social security, Medicare, and the boatload of other government funded programs that have no legitimate backing.  

Caitlyn Jarvis | St. Anselm College | @CaitlynJarvis