What Paul Ryan, Presumptive VP Nominee, Could Mean for Higher Education

With Mitt Romney’s announcement Saturday that Paul Ryan will be his running mate,  it’s worth examining the Wisconsin representative’s stand on some key higher-education issues.

  • Representative Ryan is famous for his bare-bones budget that would place the Pell Grant program in peril. He would keep Pell money at its current rate but sharply reduce eligibility, The New Republic reported in April.
  • He was against renewing the 3.4-percent interest rate on subsidized Stafford loans to undergraduates, which Congress voted to extend for one year on June 29, just before the rate would have expired. He would have allowed the rate to double, to 6.8 percent. But he voted for a measure that would have similarly extended the 3.4-percent rate for a year, paying for it by cutting a wellness provision in the Affordable Care Act. (Even Mr. Romney eventually supported keeping the lower rate on those loans, siding with President Obama.)
  • Mr. Ryan opposed the Education Department’s gainful-employment rule, designed to protect students by penalizing for-profit colleges whose graduates can’t make enough money to pay back their loans, according to the Web site Truthout.
  • In February, he called President Obama’s compromise that requires insurance companies, rather than Roman Catholic institutions, to provide contraceptives under the Affordable Care Act an “accounting trick.”
  • He calls the Dream Act a “piecemeal reform” and wants to “secure the border” first, according to the education section of his Web site.
  • In 2006, he voted against $84-million in grants for black and Hispanic colleges, according to the Web site OnTheIssues.
  • Also according to that site, he voted in favor of military recruitment on colleges campuses, in 2005.

And in some other issues that affect colleges, here are some of Mr. Ryan’s votes, according to OnTheIssues:

  • In May 2011, he voted in favor of banning federal health coverage that includes abortion.
  • In January 2007, he voted against expanding research to more embryonic stem-cell lines.
  • In May 2005, he voted against allowing human embryonic stem-cell research.

Mr. Ryan also appears to believe that federal student aid raises college costs. His Web site says,

“While financial aid is intended to make college more affordable, there is growing evidence that it has had the opposite effect: College costs have risen at twice the rate of inflation for about 30 years and economists have pointed out that these rapid increases would have been constrained if the federal government had not stepped in so often to subsidize rising tuitions.”

Mr. Ryan’s positions could be more important than we think: Mr. Romney mistakenly introduced him on Saturday as the “next president of the United States.”


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