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Mitt Romney Breaks From Ryan Budget On Pell Grants: Education In The Election

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ROMNEY PELL GRANT
AP

This piece comes to us courtesy of The Hechinger Report's HechingerEd blog.

Mitt Romney said he doesn’t agree with his running mate Paul Ryan when it comes to Pell grant funding Wednesday at a “Meet the Candidate” event geared toward Latino voters.

Ryan’s budget would reduce funding for Pell grants, which are given to low-income students to attend college, increase eligibility requirements and freeze the maximum grant at $5,550, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. President Obama supports raising the maximum to $5,635 – about a 1.5 percent increase.

Speaking at the event, hosted by Spanish-language TV station Univision and held at the University of Miami, Romney went against his vice presidential pick. “I care about your education and helping people of modest means get a good education and we’ll continue a Pell grant program,” he said. “The Republican budget called for Pell grants being capped out at their current level. My inclination would be to have them go with the rate of inflation.”

The rate of inflation was 3 percent in 2011. Romney added that keeping the grants growing at the rate of inflation would help keep college costs down overall. He said that the “best thing” he could do for the University of Miami students, though, was to make sure they had jobs waiting for them when they graduated.

“The best thing I can do is not to [say,] ‘Hey, I’ll loan you more money. Here let’s loan you,’” he said. “I don’t want to overwhelm you with debts. I want to make sure you can pay back the debts you’ve already got and that will happen with good jobs.”

Romney also spoke of the need for merit pay to attract high-quality teachers into the profession and mentioned his school choice plan, in which low-income and special needs students would be able to use federal dollars to attend any school of their choosing – if the school wants to enroll them, that is.

“We have to change from a union-dominated setting to one where the very best and brightest are highly-compensated,” he said. “They become mentor teachers, we don’t have them go into administration, but they find teaching a wonderful profession for their entire careers.”

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