Meet the Joneses: The Nuts and Bolts of McCain's Education Plan

For Pennsylvania residents Adele Jones and her husband, Stephen Jones, education is the primary issue during this election season.

Adele, a nurse, and Stephen, a university administrator, are focused on funding their son's college education. They say it will cost more than $20,000 to send their straight-A son Stephen to school.

"We're really concerned about, you know, the ability to pay for that bill," Adele Jones said.

According to the senior policy adviser for Sen. John McCain, who is due to accept the Republican nomination for president at the party's convention this week, the Arizona senator has a couple of plans that could help families like the Joneses.

The Jones FamilyPlay

As part of the "Good Morning America" series "Meet the Joneses," we are breaking down how each of the candidate's plans affect an average family. Click here to see Sen. Barack Obama's education plan for the Joneses.

"Let's make the college application process a little less frightening. For example, the financial aid forms, they don't have to be the hardest thing you ever filled out in your life," McCain adviser Doug Holtz-Eakin said. "They could be simplified."

"We have Pell grants. They should be sufficient for in-state tuition. And we should try to target the aid we have to those who deserve it the most," he added.

Holtz-Eakin said McCain's plans won't expand much on what's available currently, but instead are focused on improving what is already in place.

"We want to make sure the student loan programs work effectively," he said. "This summer for example a lot of lending got cut back because of the credit crunch. We have solutions to those problems."

Those answers don't include more money for college. Instead, McCain would allocate $250 million for virtual or online education.

"You have to be honest about the fact that we — we are in a tough fiscal situation and to promise people we're going to throw money at everything, it's to really be very misleading," Holtz-Eakin said. "It's about spending money wisely."

"John McCain's entire career has been devoted to the notion that when a dollar leaves your wallet and heads to Washington, you should get your money's worth for it," he said. "And so he's dedicated to having an efficient government that's responsive to the genuine needs of Americans. And it simply doesn't promise to spend all of their money."

The Republican's educational agenda also includes expanding the pool of qualified teachers in hopes of improving failing public schools.

The Joneses already took a drastic step in trying to ensure their children get the best education. Three years ago they moved, so that their kids could attend a better school.

"We're really interested in having our children go to college. And we didn't see that a lot of those children were able to make it into college," Stephen said of why he moved his children out of their previous school.

Holtz-Eakin said as president McCain would offer incentives to school administrators to help improve public schools.

"He's going to give local principals the authority to hire people, give them a bonus if they perform well, give them extra if they go to a really failing school in a troubled neighborhood, and let's let anyone who has done an alternative certification qualify to be one of those teachers," Holtz-Eakin said.

But one critic said McCain's ambitious plan is unrealistic.

"I'm not sure what he's talking about. Education is a state responsibility, not a federal responsibility. School choice policies would be policies that would be developed at the state or district level," said Jane Hannaway, an education expert with the nonpartisan Urban Institute, which researches social and economic policy issues.