During a campaign stop in Manchester, N.H. on Monday, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was asked by a college student what he would do if elected to address the student debt crisis.
Romney responded voters shouldn't expect him to boost Pell grant awards or help pay off student loans.
"It is very tempting as a politician to say, 'You know what, I will just give you some money. The government is just going to give you some money and pay back your loans for you,'” Romney said. "I am not going to tell you something that is not the truth, because you know, that is just taking money from your other pocket and giving it to the other pocket."
Romney added, "I'm not going to promise all sorts of free stuff that I know you're going to end up paying for. What I want to do is give you a great job so you'll be able to pay it back yourself. And I want to get the government off your back, so you can keep more of what you earned."
His running mate Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, added candidates need to address rising tuition costs. To be sure, tuition has skyrocketed out of proportion from other products' measure of inflation, as a result of states across the country slashing funding for public higher education.
More than 37 million Americans owe student debt, and a majority of students take on loans to attend college. It surpasses all other forms of consumer debt, topping $1 trillion, and cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.
It wasn't a new statement from Romney on Monday, since he said in March he wouldn't promise more federal money to students and families paying for college and not to expect the government to forgive student loan debt. Ryan proposed a budget in the House that would prevent up to one million low-income students from receiving Pell grants.
President Obama began attacking Romney over his education plans in speeches on Tuesday. In Iowa, Obama has run ads specifically about college aid, criticizing Romney for telling students to "borrow money from your parents" to attend school.
“I want to make sure everybody understands not everybody has parents who have the money to lend,” Obama said Tuesday in a speech at Capital University. “You know, that may be news to some folks, but it’s the truth.”
Obama also launched a new website on Tuesday touting his student loan reform measures and comparing them with Romney's positions. Specifically it promotes the "Pay As You Earn" plan, which caps monthly federal student loan repayment at 10 percent of monthly discretionary income. It also breaks down benefits depending on where someone lives.
Meanwhile, the Romney campaign has criticized Obama for tuition increases that occurred during his term.
"Under President Obama, the costs of college have skyrocketed -- making it more difficult for students to attend college -- and his economic policies have made it harder for graduates to get jobs," Amanda Henneberg, Romney campaign spokesperson, said.
The President has said several times in 2012 colleges must work to contain costs and not rely on tuition increases in the absence of state funding. If they do not, Obama said, they could lose out on federal money.
Obama and Romney did find themselves in agreement over the summer about extending the discounted interest rate on subsidized federal loans, which had been set to increase from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on July 1.
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