Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney referred to a plan to give Massachusetts students a “tuition free” education at state schools. He is correct that it covers tuition, but students did not get a free ride. Fees, for example, and other costs were not included.
Also it’s worth noting that Massachusetts is a relatively high tax state, with more funding for public education.
The former Massachusetts governor also referred to supporting Pell Grants, which are federal funds that support the education of the lowest-income students. Romney has consistently supported some level of support for Pell Grants.
But it is not clear whether Romney supports the same number of Pell Grants and the same level of financial support to be offered through Pell Grants.
The Obama administration has nearly doubled funding for Pell Grants, a step that Romney has criticized, outside of the debate, for being financially unsustainable as currently structured.
Obama has countered, also outside of the debate, that he funded Pell Grants by using savings generated by taking the college loan program under direct federal control, removing costly charges from banks that used to administer the program.
Obama referred to increased funding for Pell Grants, and that was an accurate reference, although Romney has pointed out in the past that such increased funding, along with other factors, has contributed to federal deficit spending. Obama said that he funded more Pell Grants by redirecting money that had previously been spent on private bank fees for student loans. That’s arguably true although federal education spending overall – which spiked as part of the federal economic stimulus package – has clearly added to the deficit.