Will Rick Santorum's Stance on Student Loans Benefit Borrowers?

This is part of an ongoing series by Credible about how the 2016 presidential candidates would affect student loans and the financing of education for students and borrowers.

Rick Santorum, who is gearing up to launch his second bid for the Republican presidential nomination,famously labeled President Obama a “snob” for his efforts to get every American access to a college education. The former Senator from Pennsylvania, who holds a BA, MBA and JD, has since admitted his phrasing during that 2012 speech in Michigan could have been better, but his voting records and policies show he hasn’t wavered much. Here are the things you need to know about where Rick Santorum stands on higher education and student loans.

Senator Santorum, like many of his conservative counterparts, has positioned himself as an advocate for technical training for manufacturing jobs, and a derider of the traditional university. His snob comment came during a speech in which he detailed the way many Americans are simply more inclined to work with their hands. His willingness to cut federal funding for college doesn’t only apply to the ivory tower, however. In 2006, Santorum voted NO on an amendment to the yearly budget resolution that would have increased funding for higher education, including programs for vocational training and adult education. It would have also increased the maximum on Pell Grant scholarships and increased loan forgiveness for science and math teachers.

And while Santorum has gone after the traditional university for their inability to give students the skills needed to compete for jobs on a global scale, he has staunchly defended for-profit colleges. These businesses, like ITT Tech and University of Phoenix, cost five to six times what community colleges cost, and their alumni account for a disproportionate share of the country’s student debt. President Obama has tried to reel these predatory universities by holding them to higher accountability standards known as Gainful Employment Provisions and by closing a loophole that allowed the schools to capitalize on financial-aid benefits from U.S. veterans. Santorum has aligned himself with these for-profit institutions and said he would treat them as a vital feature of the country’s education system, despite the 40 percent unemployment rate that their graduates face.

When Santorum announces his revamped candidacy for the Republican nomination, expect less “snob” accusations, but a persistent skepticism of the traditional university and a friendliness to the big for-profit industries that are spending more and more on lobbying efforts. As for refinancing and loan forgiveness, it likely won’t even reach Santorum’s radar.

To learn more about what private sector options are available to help graduates with student debt save, visit Credible.