Presidential Candidates Differ on Higher Education Plans

Published November 1, 2008

Presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) would offer a $4,000 American Opportunity Tax Credit as a universal college tuition program. He would attach to the program a community-service commitment requiring recipients to “volunteer” for 100 hours of public service per academic year.

Beyond that, Obama proposes to simplify financial aid applications and eliminate the current federal financial aid application form, instead enabling families to apply by checking a box on a newly designed tax form.

Presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) also advocates reducing red tape on school financial aid applications, but his idea is to rely on better management in the private sector, where the government guarantees bank-administered Sallie Mae loans. McCain proposes no increase in taxpayer funding for higher education.

— Ralph W. Conner