Debate: Romney's Massachusetts Scholarships Got Mixed Reviews

When a college student asked Mitt Romney about his employment prospects once he graduates, Romney first responded about the importance of making college affordable, and he cited one of his favorite achievements as Massachusetts governor: The John and Abigail Adams Scholarship, which provides students who met certain standards on the MCAS exam with free tuition to in-state schools.

Reporters have quickly pointed out a few caveats that come with Romney’s program. The Globe‘s fact checkers note that the scholarship covers tuition but doesn’t cover fees or room and board, which often racks up to many thousands of dollars. Others pointed to a study that found scholarship recipients might have put themselves at a disadvantage by turning down better schools for limited savings. Globe columnist Edward Glaeser wrote in August:

After four years, the students who had just squeaked over the Adams threshold were 2.2 percentage points less likely to graduate from a four-year college than students who had just missed out on the scholarship. Some of this gap may disappear over time. But at least initially, the award seems to have hurt academic outcomes — presumably by steering students to in-state public institutions, which after years of budget woes are attracting students with lower credentials and employing fewer teachers per student.

What does all this mean? It means Romney did try to address college affordability as governor, and the program he put in place had some mixed results. Also worth noting is that Romney mentioned his record as governor within the first few seconds of the first question during this debate. Looks like the return of Governor Romney wasn’t a fluke in the last debate.