Romney’s Student-Loan Advice: Ask Your Parents

Sarah Huisenga

WESTERVILLE, Ohio -- On a day Congress grappled with preventing an increase in student-loan interest rates, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney offered a group of college students this advice: If you want to get an education or start a business, borrow money from your parents.

Romney, a wealthy former investment banker who has struggled to soften his image as a member of America’s super elite, was discussing ways of achieving the American dream at Otterbein University. He said, “We've always encouraged young people: Take a shot, go for it. Take a risk. Get the education. Borrow money if you have to from your parents. Start a business.”

The average cost of attending a four-year public university is about $20,000 a year, an amount exceeding the cash-on-hand of many American family budgets.

Romney did not mention the raging political fight between the parties over student-loan rates. Both the Democratic White House and House Republicans have agreed to hold subsidized student-loan rates at 3.4 percent for a year, preventing an automatic increase, but they have found no common ground over how to pay for the change. President Obama has threatened to veto the House bill because it taps a women’s health fund to pay for maintaining the low rate.  

The presumptive GOP nominee focused his remarks to students in this important swing state on trying to show a more personal side. He talked at length about his work at Bain Capital on investment projects that fostered the creation of the Staples office-supply chain and other businesses. He also mentioned political supporter Jimmy John Liautaud, founder of the pizza business that bears his name, as an example of the American dream.

“He graduated from high school and he didn’t want to go to college,” Romney said. “And he said to his dad, ‘Can I borrow some money? I want to start a business.’ His dad said, ‘You know what? I just don’t think you’ve got the discipline to start a business and make it work.’ And he said, ‘I’ll loan you the money, but if you can’t pay it back, with interest, by the end of the year, I want you to go into the military, and sign up.’ And he said, ‘OK, I’ll do that.’”

Today, Romney said, “He’s got shops all over the country and thousands of people that work with him.”