Obama ads hit Romney on Pell, work-study aid

In an appeal to Hispanic voters, President Obama’s new campaign ad accuses Gov. Romney of backing Pell Grant cuts and promises to control rising college costs, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education. In the ad, released in Spanish and English, Obama says the U.S. will remain competitive by ”training two million Americans with the job skills they need at our community colleges, cutting the growth of tuition in half, and expanding student aid so more Americans can afford it.”

In his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, Obama called for a 50-percent reduction in tuition growth over a decade “but offered no details about how to achieve such a goal,” the Chronicle notes. Earlier this year, the president proposed linking a college’s eligibility for federal student aid to tuition growth, graduation rates and students’ employability without providing specifics.

“President Romney. What would that mean? For our kids, a difficult path to the university,” a narrator says. “Up to two million Hispanic students would see their Pell Grants cut by almost $1,000. Thousands more would lose access to the Work-Study Program. And with his plan, fewer resources for community colleges.”

“Register [to vote] today,” the narrator urges, “so that Romney doesn’t close these doors on us.”

Last week, the Republican challenger released a Spanish-language ad blaming the president and Democrats for rising tuition and soaring student debt.

Obama’s ad refers to Pell changes proposed in the House Republican budget written by Rep. Paul Ryan, Romney’s running mate. But Romney has rejected a freeze on the maximum grant. In an interview with Univision, a Spanish-language network, Romney called for letting Pell Grants rise with inflation.

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.

Romney’s proposal to let grants rise with inflation could mean a 3 percent increase, larger than Obama’s proposed 1.5 percent.

Romney also told University of Miami students that what they need is “good jobs,” not more loans. “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.”