TAYLOR, Mich. - Democrat Barack Obama met with students at a community college here Tuesday to highlight his plans for a $4,000 tuition tax credit, the second day in a row that he has contrasted his plans on bread-and-butter issues with his Republican rival for the presidency, John McCain.
Mr. Obama said education "isn't an issue you hear Senator McCain talking much about. He's out of touch. He's voted time and again to stop us making college affordable."
The McCain campaign did not immediately return a call seeking a response.
On Monday, Mr. Obama met with a family in Flint, Mich., with a $40,000 income and contrasted his proposals for a tax cut with those of Mr. McCain.
Tuesday's event was held at the Downriver campus of the Wayne County Community College District where a group of about 30 students who receive financial aid traded comments and questions with Mr. Obama about the burdens of paying for their educations.
Senator Obama of Illinois has proposed a $4,000 refundable tax credit per student, per year, for tuition. It would cover two-thirds of tuition at the average public college or university, and all of the tuition and some expenses at many community colleges, according to Mr. Obama. The student would have to commit to 100 hours of public service to receive the help.
Student Demetrius Jenkins, 18, said he will owe about $6,000 in tuition to transfer to a four-year college, after receiving grants and federally guaranteed loans to cover about $10,000.
"One of the things I'm having trouble with is private loans," he said. Mr. Obama and the college's financial aid officer, Marcus McGrew, advised him to avoid the private loans if possible.
"I'd make sure we have this additional $4,000 tuition credit so you dont have to resort to the private market," Mr. Obama said. He bemoaned "unscrupulous lenders" and said he wants more regulation of the private market.
"I feel that if he is elected the issues he is concerned about will come about," Mr. Jenkins said afterward.
A 43-year-old part-time student at Wayne who said her daughter, a full-time student at Eastern Michigan University, is in danger of losing her academic eligibility for her financial aid asked Mr. Obama for advice.
He said her future earnings will be so much greater with a college degree that "it is still the best investment you can make." He suggested she spend less time watching TV, text-messaging friends, and going to movies and more time studying.
"If your daughter has an opportunity to attend a four-year school and get a degree there are no excuses. She's got to keep her grades up and graduate," Mr. Obama said.
The mother, Stephanie Baker, said she plans to play back a recording of the event for her 20-year-old daughter, Autumn.
"She is such a staunch Obama supporter it'll be like God talking to her," Ms. Baker said.
The Taylor trip followed a rally Monday night that drew about 20,000 people to Joe Louis Arena and appearances Monday afternoon in Flint. It was Mr. Obama's third visit to the state since May in his effort to keep Michigan in the Democratic column in the general election.
Mr. Obama said he plans to pay for his campaign promises, including universal health care, by raising taxes on incomes above $250,000. He also said he would have the government make college loans directly, saving billions of dollars now going to private banks.
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