Democrats contend that Ryan's budget proposal, which failed to pass the Democratic-controlled Senate, would cut $115 billion from the Education Department, costing 1 million college students their Pell Grants over the next decade. Democrats argue those moves would punish many middle class and low income families trying to gain an education.
Those estimates, however, assume the cuts in Ryan's budget are applied evenly across all programs starting in 2014 — something Ryan aides say would not happen. His budget does not directly address Pell Grant funding, and his aides say the cuts would not take a one-size-fits-all approach.
Ryan, who prefers that students take loans instead of receiving grants, would keep the top Pell Grant award in the coming school year at $5,500 but in future years reduce the number of students eligible, not the award sums. In other words, fewer students would receive them but the neediest would not see their awards changed.
More than 9.7 million students are expected to get grants for the academic year that is about to begin.
Following a lunchtime stop at Sloopy's, a diner at nearby Ohio State University, Obama made a personal pitch to college students at nearby Capital University, recalling that he and first lady Michelle Obama had to dig out of a "mountain of debt" after finishing law school.
He pointed to Romney's remarks on higher education at a Youngstown, Ohio, town hall meeting in March, when the GOP candidate suggested that college students would do better to "shop around" for tuition rates and college loans or borrow money from parents.
"He doesn't think investing in your future is worth it," Obama said in Columbus and later in Reno.
Obama was to repeat that education pitch Wednesday in Las Vegas.
In taking his campaign to Nevada, Obama was seeking votes in a state that by many measures presents one of his toughest challenges. The state has an unemployment rate of 12 percent, highest in the country and 3.7 percentage points higher than the national rate. It also has among the worst foreclosure rates in the country.
In an interview Tuesday with KRNV-TV in Reno, Romney said Nevada's housing market would rebound if federal mortgage backers sell the thousands of homes they hold and make more options available to avoid foreclosure. He said Nevada's lingering housing woes show the president's policies haven't worked.
Obama, who has visited Nevada in the past to promote his housing policies, did not mention housing in his remarks in Reno.
In Minneapolis, Vice President Joe Biden also tried to portray Romney as unsympathetic to the concerns of many middle-income Americans, reprising the campaign's request that Romney release more extensive tax returns.
"I've never run across a presidential candidate who is a decent guy but is more out of touch than Mr. Romney right now," Biden said. Citing the Obama administration's efforts to reform Wall Street, Biden said the objections of Republican critics sounded like "squealing pigs" and called the changes "some of the toughest Wall Street regulations in history."
Elliott reported from Carnegie, Pa. Associated Press writers Julie Pace in Houston, Matthew Daly in Minneapolis and Kasie Hunt and Ken Thomas in Washington contributed to this report.
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