Talk is cheap

The state’s 2011 fiscal budgets, as reported by the National Association of State Budget Officers, ranks Ohio at 44th in higher education expenses. Only six states spend less on education as a percentage of their total expenses.

Less than 3 percent of the federal budget is dedicated to education, of which student financial aid for college is 0.58 percent, according to the White House’s website. 

And the future looks bleak for the country’s college-going students who racked up $100 billion in student loans last year and surpassed national credit card debt for the first time ever. 

Outstanding student loan debt totaled $975,733,341 … as of 7:43 p.m. Monday. 

So President Barack Obama’s call to increase Perkins loans from $1 trillion to $8 trillion annually was welcomed with wary ears.

Increasing student loans is as good of an idea as engineering subprime mortgages. We need grants and scholarships, not a longer rope.

In a polarized election year, we wonder how much of this sympathy for college students is merely hot air and rhetoric. We’ll hear a lot of promises in the next 10 months, but none should be taken for granted.

As part of the “blueprint” that Obama laid out in the State of the Union address, Pell grants would increase from $5,500 to $5,975 by 2013 and remain locked in at that amount until 2017. 

Yet we remember only last year when the Pell grant was cut in half.

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money has run dry, and state contributions aren’t far behind.

The bottom line: The money they promise today won’t be there tomorrow. We’ll see austerity measures in the next four years, regardless of who wins the election.

After a few jokes about meeting Denard Robinson in the president’s address at the University of Michigan on Friday, Obama said, “College is the single most important investment you can make in your future.”

He failed to mention that it’s also the most costly.

He went on to say how “proud” he was that we are making that investment.

Well, we’ll be proud when he keeps his promises.

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