Cross-posted from the White House blog.
Earlier today, the President spent time talking with college newspaper reporters and editors about issues that hit students directly – making college affordable, expanding access to financial aid, expanding access to health insurance, and creating jobs for today’s graduates.
The education statistics are telling. In just ten years time, America went from being number one in college graduation rates among young adults to number nine in the world. I know, you know, and the President knows that this is simply unacceptable.
In his conversation today, the President focused on what we’re doing to remove the barriers that keep young Americans from finishing college – things like:
- Making the financial aid application process easier;
- Making education loans available directly to students, cutting out the big banks from the process and taking the subsidy they charged — $60 billion – and rolling it back into financial aid;
- Investing $40 billion more in Pell Grants, increasing the maximum award next year to $5,500;
- Tripling the investment in college tax credits for middle-class families;
- Prioritizing student loan forgiveness so that students can cap their repayments at 10 percent of their income, have the balance of their loans forgiven after 20 years, and cut that period in half if the student pursues a career in teaching, nursing, law enforcement, or any other public service field; and
- Investing $2.25 billion in Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other minority-serving institutions to help close the gap in higher education graduation rates and so these students can enter the workforce better prepared than ever.
At the heart of all of this work is the President’s goal to raise the graduation rate from where it stands today – about 40% – to 60% by 2020, putting America back on top, and putting graduates to work. This is critical for, as the President said in his call, countries that out-educate us today will out-compete us tomorrow. The single most important step we can take to strengthen our economy is to offer all of our young people the best education possible.
See the full transcript of the call here.
Heather Higginbottom is Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council