Members of the Rollins College Democrats welcomed Thompson to Winter Park as she spoke about the importance of Pell Grants to students.
These academic awards, based on financial need, supply 8 million students with the means to attend college, according to whitehouse.gov.
“For some students, the Pell Grant is the difference between going to college or not going to college, or going to the college of your dreams or just settling for a college,” Thompson said.
Holt Student Melissa Maniau ‘14 also addressed the small number of students who met in Central Park. She reinforced the idea that Pell Grants helped her afford a Rollins education.
For some students, the Pell Grant is the difference between going to college or not going to college, or going to the college of your dreams or just settling for a college,
“I wouldn’t be able to afford to go to Rollins without the Pell Grant. I am very appreciative of those initiatives and those policies, because I love Rollins,” Maniau said.
Both Thompson and Maniau discussed Obama’s initiative to improve the education system.
The Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act helped increase Pell Grant funding by investing more than $40 billion in student aid, which doubled the amount of funding available since the President took office in 2008. It will increase the maximum Pell Grant award to $5,975 per student according to non-partisan Congressional Budget offices.Thompson and Maniau both felt that electing Republican candidate Mitt Romney would be a mistake in regards to education funding.
As both speakers stated, Romney’s education plan includes borrowing money and “shopping around” to find the most affordable school. Maniau feels that the most affordable school is not always the right school for students.
“The problem is shopping around doesn’t always cut it,” Maniau said. “I don’t know what world Mitt Romney lives in, but not all of our parents have a few thousand dollars lying around for us to borrow.”
Romney faced criticism from the Obama campaign for his “shop around” statement this summer. Obama used the line directly when voicing his concerns regarding education in a speech last week.
“Gov. Romney didn’t say anything about grants or loan programs that have helped millions of students earn a college education. Here’s what he said, ‘The best thing I can do for you is to tell you to shop around.’ To shop around… That’s his answer to a young person hoping to go to college,” Obama said to an audience in Reno, Nev.
The higher socioeconomic status of many Rollins students and families may allow them to “shop around,” as Thompson addressed in her call to action:
“Wherever you are on the socioeconomic scale, Pres. Obama understands the importance of education and the importance of getting prepared for the future. So if you are fortunate enough to come from a family where you don’t have to worry about paying your tuition, you then have an opportunity to help others,” Thompson said. “We all have to make an investment in the future of education.”