Full Text Obama Presidency August 16, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address: Everyone Should Be Able To Afford Higher Education

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Weekly Address: Everyone Should Be Able To Afford Higher Education

Source: WH, 8-16-14

Video Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
Saturday, August 16, 2014

Hi, everybody. Over the next couple weeks, schools all across the country will be opening their doors. Students will suit up for fall sports, marching band, and the school play; moms and dads will snap those first-day-of-school pictures — and that includes me and Michelle.

And so today, I want to talk directly with students and parents about one of the most important things any of you can do this year — and that’s to begin preparing yourself for an education beyond high school.

We know that in today’s economy, whether you go to a four-year college, a community college, or a professional training program, some higher education is the surest ticket to the middle class. The typical American with a bachelor’s degree or higher earns over $28,000 more per year than someone with just a high school diploma. And they’re also much more likely to have a job in the first place – the unemployment rate for those with a bachelor’s degree is less than one-third of the rate for those without a high school diploma.

But for too many families across the country, paying for higher education is a constant struggle. Earlier this year, a young woman named Elizabeth Cooper wrote to tell me how hard it is for middle-class families like hers to afford college. As she said, she feels “not significant enough to be addressed, not poor enough for people to worry [about], and not rich enough to be cared about.”

Michelle and I know the feeling – we only finished paying off our student loans ten years ago. And so as President, I’m working to make sure young people like Elizabeth can go to college without racking up mountains of debt. We reformed a student loan system so that more money goes to students instead of big banks. We expanded grants and college tax credits for students and families. We took action to offer millions of students a chance to cap their student loan payments at 10% of their income. And Congress should pass a bill to let students refinance their loans at today’s lower interest rates, just like their parents can refinance their mortgage.

But as long as college costs keep rising, we can’t just keep throwing money at the problem — colleges have to do their part to bring down costs as well. That’s why we proposed a plan to tie federal financial aid to a college’s performance, and create a new college scorecard so that students and parents can see which schools provide the biggest bang for your buck. We launched a new $75 million challenge to inspire colleges to reduce costs and raise graduation rates. And in January, more than 100 college presidents and nonprofit leaders came to the White House and made commitments to increase opportunities for underserved students.

Since then, we’ve met with even more leaders who want to create new community-based partnerships and support school counselors. And this week, my Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, announced a series of commitments to support students who need a little extra academic help getting through college.

This is a challenge I take personally. And to all you young people, now that you’re heading back to school, your education is something you have to take personally, also. It’s up to you to push yourself; to take hard classes and read challenging books. Science shows that when you struggle to solve a problem or make a new argument, you’re actually forming new connections in your brain. So when you’re thinking hard, you’re getting smarter. Which means this year, challenge yourself to reach higher. And set your sights on college in the years ahead. Your country is counting on you.

And don’t forget to have some fun along the way, too.

Thanks everybody. Good luck on the year ahead.

Full Text Obama Presidency January 16, 2014: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama’s Speeches at College Opportunity Summit

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Taking Action to Expand College Opportunity

Remarks by the President and First Lady at College Opportunity Summit

 Source: WH, 1-16-14

President Barack Obama, with First Lady Michelle Obama and Bard College student Troy Simon, delivers remarks during the College Opportunity SummitPresident Barack Obama, with First Lady Michelle Obama and Bard College student Troy Simon, delivers remarks during the College Opportunity Summit in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building South Court Auditorium, Jan. 16, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

South Court Auditorium

Eisenhower Executive Office Building

11:37 A.M. EST

MRS. OBAMA:  Good morning.  Thank you, everyone.  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.  Thank you.  You guys rest yourselves.  Thank you so much.

It is really great to be here today with all of you.  We have with us today college and university presidents; we have experts and advocates, and civic and business leaders.  And I want to thank all of you for taking the time to be here today and for working every day to help young people pursue their education and build brighter futures for themselves and for our country.

And I’d also like us to give a really big hand to Troy for sharing that story.  (Applause.)  That’s pretty powerful stuff, and presented so eloquently.  I know yesterday I met Troy — he was nervous.  (Laughter.)  I don’t really know why you were nervous.  You’re pretty awesome.

MR. SIMON:  Thank you.

MRS. OBAMA:  Troy’s story reminds us all of the limitless capacity that lies within all of our young people no matter where they come from or how much money they have.  Troy is an example of why we all should care deeply about this issue.

And Troy, and millions of others like him, are why I care so much about this issue, and why in the coming years I’m going to be spending more and more of my time focusing on education.  Because as everyone here knows, education is the key to success for so many kids.  And my goal specifically is to reach out directly to young people and encourage them to take charge of their futures and complete an education beyond high school.  And I’m doing this because so often when we talk about education, we talk about our young people and what we need to do for them.  We talk about the programs we need to create for them, about the resources we need to devote to them.

But we must remember that education is a two-way bargain.  And while there is so much more we must do for our kids, at the end of the day, as Troy described, the person who has the most say over whether or not a student succeeds is the student him or herself.  Ultimately, they are the ones sitting in that classroom.  They’re the ones who have to set goals for themselves and work hard to achieve those goals every single day.

So my hope is that with this new effort, that instead of talking about our kids, we talk with our kids.  I want to hear what’s going on in their lives.  I want to inspire them to step up and commit to their education so they can have opportunities they never even dreamed of.  I’m doing this because that story of opportunity through education is the story of my life, and I want them to know that it can be their story, too –- but only if they devote themselves to continuing their education past high school.

And for many students, that might mean attending a college or university like the ones many of you represent.  For others, it might mean choosing a community college.  It might mean pursuing short-term professional training.  But no matter what they do, I want to make sure that students believe that they have what it takes to succeed beyond high school.  That’s going to be my message to young people.

But here’s the thing:  I know that that message alone isn’t enough.  Like I said, this is a two-way street, and that means we all have to step up.  Because make no mistake about it, these kids are smart.  They will notice if we’re not holding up our end of the bargain.  They will notice if we tell them about applying for college or financial aid, but then no one is there to help them choose the right school or fill out the right forms.  They will notice if we tell them that they’re good enough to graduate from college, but then no college asks them to apply, no college invites them to visit their campus.

And so we’ve got to re-commit ourselves to helping these kids pursue their education.  And as you discussed in your first panel today, one of the first steps is getting more underserved young people onto college campuses.  The fact is that right now we are missing out on so much potential because so many promising young people — young people like Troy who have the talent it takes to succeed — simply don’t believe that college can be a reality for them.  Too many of them are falling through the cracks, and all of you know that all too well.

And that’s why so many of you are already finding new ways to reach out to the underserved students in your communities.  You’re helping them navigate the financial aid and college admissions process, and you’re helping them find schools that match their abilities and interests.  And I know from my own experience just how important all of that work is that you’re doing.

See, the truth is that if Princeton hadn’t found my brother as a basketball recruit, and if I hadn’t seen that he could succeed on a campus like that, it never would have occurred to me to apply to that school — never.  And I know that there are so many kids out there just like me — kids who have a world of potential, but maybe their parents never went to college or maybe they’ve never been encouraged to believe they could succeed there.

And so that means it’s our job to find those kids.  It’s our job to help them understand their potential and then get them enrolled in a college that can help them meet their needs.  But then we all know that just getting into school is only half the story, because once students are there, they have got to graduate.  And that’s not always easy, especially given what many of these kids are dealing with when they get to campus.

Just think about it.  You just heard a snippet from Troy.  Just to make it to college, these kids have already overcome so much — neighborhoods riddled with crime and drugs, moms and dads who weren’t around, too many nights when they had to go to bed hungry.  But as I tell these kids when I talk to them, we can’t think about those experiences that they’ve had as weaknesses — just the opposite.  They’re actually strengths.

In facing and overcoming these challenges, these kids have developed skills like grit and resilience that many of their peers will never be able to compete with — never.  And when they get out in the world, those are the exact skills they will need to succeed.  And they will succeed.

But imagine how hard it is to realize that when you first get to college.  You’re in a whole new world.  You might have trouble making friends because you don’t see any peers who come from a background like yours.  You might be worried about paying for classes, and food, and room and board because you have never had to set your own budget before.  You might be feeling guilty when you call home because Mom and Dad are wondering why you didn’t get a job so you could help support their family.  Those are the kinds of obstacles these kids are facing right from day one.

But let’s be clear — all of that isn’t just a challenge for them.  It’s a challenge for folks like us, who are committed to helping them succeed.  And make no mistake about it, that is our mission — not simply giving speeches or raising money or hosting conferences, but to take real, meaningful action that will help our young people get into college, and more importantly, actually get their degree.

And here’s the good news:  Time and again you all have shown that you have the experience, the passion and the resources to help these young people thrive.  For example, in recent decades, you’ve realized that students from across the socioeconomic spectrum have been coming to campus with more and more issues like eating disorders and learning disabilities, emotional challenges like depression and anxiety, and so much more.  And luckily, you all have not shied away from these issues.  I’ve seen it.  I worked at a university.  And you haven’t said, these aren’t our problems; we’re a university, not a hospital or a counseling center.  No, you’ve stepped up.

And while there’s still work left to do on these issues, you’re working every day to support these kids through treatment programs and outreach initiatives and support groups, because you know that these issues have a huge impact on whether students can learn and succeed at your school.  So now, as you begin to see more and more underserved students on your campuses, we need you to direct that same energy and determination toward helping these kids face their unique challenges.

Now, fortunately, you’ve already got the expertise you need to address these issues.  And simply by building on what you’re already doing best, you can make real differences for these kids.  And that’s what so many of you are doing with commitments you’ve made here at this summit.

For example, every school offers financial aid services, but listen to what the University of Minnesota is doing.  They’re committing to expand those services to include financial literacy programs to help students and their families manage the costs of college.  And every school has advisors who desperately want their students to succeed.  Oregon Tech is committing to set up a text message program so that these advisors can connect more easily with students who need some extra encouragement or academic support.

And every college has orientation programs or learning communities to help students transition to college.  And many of the schools here today are supplementing those programs by partnering with organizations like the Posse Foundation so that underserved students can connect and build a social network before they even step foot on campus.  And those were the types of resources that helped a kid like me not just survive but thrive at a school like Princeton.

When I first arrived at school as a first-generation college student, I didn’t know anyone on campus except my brother.  I didn’t know how to pick the right classes or find the right buildings.  I didn’t even bring the right size sheets for my dorm room bed.  (Laughter.)  I didn’t realize those beds were so long.  (Laughter.)  So I was a little overwhelmed and a little isolated.

But then I had an opportunity to participate in a three-week, on-campus orientation program that helped me get a feel for the rhythm of college life.  And once school started, I discovered the campus cultural center, the Third World Center, where I found students and staff who came from families and communities that were similar to my own.  And they understood what I was going through.  They were there to listen when I was feeling frustrated.  They were there to answer the questions I was too embarrassed to ask anyone else.

And if it weren’t for those resources and the friends and the mentors, I honestly don’t know how I would have made it through college.  But instead, I graduated at the top of my class, I went to law school — and you know the rest.  (Laughter.)  So whether it’s aligning with an organization like Posse or offering a new advising or mentoring program, or creating a central space where students can connect with one another, you all can take simple steps that can determine whether these kids give up and drop out, or step up and thrive.

And that’s not just good for these young people, it’s good for your schools — because if you embrace and empower these students, and if you make sure they have good campus experiences, then they’re going to stay engaged with your school for decades after they graduate.  They will be dressed up in school colors at homecoming games.  They’ll be asking to serve on your committees and advisory boards.  And they’ll be doing their part when fundraising season rolls around.  (Laughter.)

So believe me, these will be some of the best alumni you could possibly ask for, because after everything these kids will have overcome to get into college and get through college, believe me, they will have all the skills they need to run our businesses and our labs, and to teach in our classrooms, and to lead our communities.

Just look at me, and look at Troy and the countless success stories from the organizations and schools represented here in this room.  That’s how we will win, this country.  We will win by tapping the full potential of all of our young people so that we can grow our economy and move this country forward.  And let me tell you that is something that my husband understands deeply, because his life story, just like mine, is rooted in education as well.  And as President, that is was drives him every single day — his goal of expanding opportunity to millions of Americans who are striving to build better futures for themselves, for their families and for our country, as well.

So now it is my pleasure to introduce my husband, the President of the United States, Barack Obama.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you, everybody.  Everybody, please have a seat.  Have a seat.  Welcome to the White House, everybody.  And let me begin by thanking Troy and sharing his remarkable story.  I could not be more inspired by what he’s accomplished and can’t wait to see what he’s going to accomplish in the future.

My wife — it’s hard to speak after her.  (Laughter and applause.)  We were in the back, and Gene Sperling, who did extraordinary work putting this whole summit together, said, “Everybody is so excited that Michelle is here.”  (Laughter.)  And I said, well, what about me?  (Laughter.)  But you should be excited, her being here, because she brings a passion and a body of experience and a passion to this issue that is extraordinary.  And I couldn’t be prouder of the work she’s already done and the work I know that she’s going to keep on doing around these issues.

She did leave one thing out of her speech, and that is it’s her birthday tomorrow.  (Applause.)  So I want everybody to just keep that in mind.

Now, we are here for one purpose:  We want to make sure more young people have the chance to earn a higher education.  And in the 21st century economy, we all understand it’s never been more important.

The good news is, is that our economy is steadily growing and strengthening after the worst recession in a generation.  So we’ve created more than 8 million new jobs.  Manufacturing is growing, led by a booming auto industry.  Thanks to some key public investments in advances like affordable energy and research and development, what we’ve seen is not only an energy revolution in this country that bodes well for our future, but in areas like health care, for example, we’ve slowed the growth of health care costs in ways that a lot of people wouldn’t have anticipated as recently as five or ten years ago.

So there are a lot of good things going on in the economy.  And businesses are starting to invest.  In fact, what we’re seeing are businesses overseas starting to say, instead of outsourcing, let’s insource back into the U.S.

All that bodes well for our future.  Here’s the thing, though:  We don’t grow just for the sake of growth.  We grow so that it translates into a growing middle class, people getting jobs, people being able to support their families, and people being able to pass something on to the next generation.  We want to restore the essential promise of opportunity and upward mobility that’s at the heart of America — the notion that if you work hard, you can get ahead, you can improve your situation in life, you can make something of yourself.  The same essential story that Troy so eloquently told about himself.

And the fact is it’s been getting harder to do that for a lot of people.  It is harder for folks to start in one place and move up that ladder — and that was true long before the recession hit.  And that’s why I’ve said that in 2014, we have to consider this a year of action, not just to grow the economy, not just to increase GDP, not just to make sure that corporations are profitable and the stock market is doing well and the financial system is stable.  We’ve also got to make sure that that growth is broad-based and that everybody has a chance to access that growth and take advantage of it.  We’ve got to make sure that we’re creating new jobs and that the wages and benefits that go along with those jobs can support a family.  We have to make sure that there are new ladders of opportunity into the middle class, and that those ladders — the rungs on those ladders are solid and accessible for more people.

Now, I’m going to be working with Congress where I can to accomplish this, but I’m also going to act on my own if Congress is deadlocked.  I’ve got a pen to take executive actions where Congress won’t, and I’ve got a telephone to rally folks around the country on this mission.

And today is a great example of how, without a whole bunch of new legislation, we can advance this agenda.  We’ve got philanthropists and business leaders here; we’ve got leaders of innovative non-for-profits; we’ve got college presidents — from state universities and historically black colleges to Ivy League universities and community colleges.  And today, more than 100 colleges and 40 organizations are announcing new commitments to help more young people not only go to, but graduate from college.  And that’s an extraordinary accomplishment, and we didn’t pass a bill to do it.

Everybody here is participating, I believe, because you know that college graduation has never been more valuable than it is today.  Unemployment for Americans with a college degree is more than a third lower than the national average.  Incomes — twice as high as those without a high school diploma.  College is not the only path to success.  We’ve got to make sure that more Americans of all age are getting the skills that they need to access the jobs that are out there right now.  But more than ever, a college degree is the surest path to a stable, middle-class life.

And higher education speaks to something more than that.  The premise that we’re all created equal is the opening line in our American story.  And we don’t promise equal outcomes; we’ve strived to deliver equal opportunity — the idea that success does not depend on being born into wealth or privilege, it depends on effort and merit.  You can be born into nothing and work your way into something extraordinary.  And to a kid that goes to college, maybe like Michelle, the first in his or her family, that means everything.

And the fact is, is if we hadn’t made a commitment as a country to send more of our people to college, Michelle, me, maybe a few of you would not be here today.  My grandfather wasn’t rich, but when he came home from the war he got the chance to study on the GI Bill.  I grew up with a single mom.  She had me when she was 18 years old.  There are a lot of circumstances where that might have waylaid her education for good.  But there were structures in place that allowed her then to go on and get a PhD.  Michelle’s dad was a shift worker at the city water plant; mom worked as a secretary.  They didn’t go to college.  But there were structures in place that allowed Michelle to take advantage of those opportunities.

As Michelle mentioned, our parents and grandparents made sure we knew that we’d have to work for it, that nobody was going to hand us something, that education was not a passive enterprise — you just tip your head over and somebody pours education into your ear.  (Laughter.)  You’ve got to work for it.  And I’ve told the story of my mother — when I was living overseas, she’d wake me up before dawn to do correspondence courses in English before I went to the other school.  I wasn’t that happy about it.  (Laughter.)  But with that hard work — but also with scholarships, also with student loans, and with support programs in place — we were able to go to some of the best colleges in the country even though we didn’t have a lot of money.  Every child in America should have the same chance.

So over the last five years, we’ve worked hard in a variety of ways to improve these mechanisms to get young people where they need to be and to knock down barriers that are preventing them from getting better prepared for the economies that they’re going to face.  We’ve called for clearer, higher standards in our schools — and 45 states and the District of Columbia have answered that call so far.  We’ve set a goal of training 100,000 new math and science teachers over the next 10 years, and the private sector has already committed to help train 40,000.  We’ve taken new steps to help students stay in school, and today the high school dropout rate is the lowest it has been in 40 years — something that’s rarely advertised.  The dropout rate among Hispanic students, by the way, has been cut in half over the last decade.

But we still have to hire more good teachers and pay them better.  We still have to do more training and development, and ensure that the curriculums are ones that maximize the chances for student success.  When young people are properly prepared in high school, we’ve got to make sure that they can afford to go to college, so we took on a student loan system that was giving billions of dollars of taxpayer dollars to big banks and we said, let’s give that money directly to students.  As a consequence, we were able to double the grant aid that goes to millions of students.  And today, more young people are earning college degrees than ever before.

So we’ve made progress there, but as I’ve discussed with some of you, we’re still going to have to make sure that rising tuition doesn’t price the middle class out of a college education.  The government is not going to be able to continually subsidize a system in which higher education inflation is going up faster than health care inflation.  So I’ve laid out a plan to bring down costs and make sure that students are not saddled with debt before they even start out in life.

Even after all these steps that we’ve taken over the last five years, we still have a long way to go to unlock the doors of higher education to more Americans and especially lower-income Americans.  We’re going to have to make sure they’re ready to walk through those doors.  The added value of a college diploma has nearly doubled since Michelle and I were undergraduates.  Unfortunately, today only 30 percent of low-income students enroll in college right after high school and, far worse, by their mid-twenties only 9 percent earn a bachelor’s degree.

So if we as a nation can expand opportunity and reach out to those young people and help them not just go to college but graduate from college or university, it could have a transformative effect.  There is this huge cohort of talent that we’re not tapping.

Now, what this meeting today tells me is we’ve got dedicated citizens across the country who are ready to stand up and meet this challenge.  And what I want to really do is highlight some of the commitments that have been made here today.  So we know that not enough low-income students are taking the steps required to prepare for college.  That’s why I’m glad the University of Chicago, my neighbor, and the place where Michelle and I both worked in the past, is announcing a $10 million College Success Initiative that will reach 10,000 high schools over the next five years.  It’s why iMentor, a mentoring program that began 15 years ago with just 49 students in the South Bronx, has committed to matching 20,000 new students with mentoring in more than 20 states over the next five years.

We also know that too many students don’t apply to the schools that are right for them.  They may sometimes underestimate where they could succeed, where they could go.  There may be a mismatch in terms of what their aspirations are and the nature of what’s offered at the school that’s close by.  And they kind of assume, well, that’s my only option.  So UVA, for example, is going experiment with new ways to contact high-achieving, low-income students directly and encourage them to apply.  Organizations like the College Board are going to work with colleges to make it easier for students to apply to more schools for free.

I know sometimes for those of you in university administrations, the perception may be that $100 application fees is not a big deal.  But for a lot of these students, that’s enough of a barrier that they just don’t end up applying.

Number three, we know that when it comes to college advising, and preparing for tests like the ACT and the SAT, low-income kids are not on a level playing field.  We call these standardized tests — they’re not standardized.  Malia and Sasha, by the time they’re in seventh grade at Sidwell School here, are already getting all kinds of advice and this and that and the other.  The degree of preparation that many of our kids here are getting in advance of actually taking this test tilts the playing field.  It’s not fair.  And it’s gotten worse.

I was telling Michelle, when I was taking the SAT I just barely remembered to bring a pencil.  I mean, that’s how much preparation I did.  (Laughter.)  But the truth of the matter is, is that we don’t have a level playing field when it comes to so-called standardized tests.  So we’ve got a young man here today named Lawrence Harris who knows this better than most.  Lawrence went to the University of Georgia, and like a lot of first-generation college students it wasn’t easy for him.  He had to take remedial classes.  He had to work two part-time jobs to make ends meet.  At one point, he had to leave school for a year while he helped support his mom and his baby brother.  Those are the kinds of just day-to-day challenges that a lot of these young people with enormous talent are having to overcome.  Now, he stuck with it.  He graduated.

But now he’s giving back.  He’s made it his mission to help other young people like him graduate, as a college advisor at Clarke Central High School in Athens, Georgia.  And today the National College Advising Corps, the program that placed Lawrence in Clarke Central, is announcing plans to add 129 more advisors who will serve more than 80,000 students over the next three years.

Finally, we know that once low-income students arrive on campus — Michelle I think spoke eloquently to her own personal experience on this — they often learn that even if they were at the top of their high school class, they still have a lot of catching up to do with respect to some of their peers in the classroom.  Bunker Hill Community College is addressing this by giving more incoming students the chance to start catching up over the summer before their freshman year.  And we’ve got 22 states and the District of Columbia who have joined together in a commitment to dramatically increase the number of students who complete college-level math and English their first year.

So these are just a sampling of the more than 100 commitments that your organizations and colleges are making here today.  And that’s an extraordinary first step.  But we’ve got more colleges and universities than this around the country.  We’ve got more business leaders around the country and philanthropies around the country.  And so we have to think of this as just the beginning; we want to do something like this again, and we want even more colleges and universities and businesses and non-for-profits to take part.

For folks who are watching this who were not able be here today, we want you here next time.  Start thinking about your commitments now.  We want you to join us.  For those who were able to make commitments today, I want to thank you for doing your part to make better the life of our country — because what you’re doing here today means that there are a bunch of young people, like Troy and like Michelle and like me, who suddenly may be able to see a whole new world open up before — that they didn’t realize was there.

So I’ll end with a great story that I think speaks to this.  There’s a former teacher here today named Nick Ehrmann.  Where’s Nick?  So here’s Nick right here.  Five years ago, Nick founded a New York City nonprofit called Blue Engine, and they recruit recent college graduates to work as teaching assistants in public high schools that serve low-income communities, teaming up to help students build the skills they need to enter college ready for college.

The first group of students to work with those teaching assistants are seniors now.  One of them, Estiven Rodriguez, who also is here today — where is he?  There he is — good-looking, young guy right here.  (Laughter.)  Could not speak a word of English when he moved to the United States from the Dominican Republic at the age of nine.  Didn’t speak much more English by the time he entered sixth grade.

Today, with the support of a tightly knit school community, he’s one of the top students in his senior class at Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School, or WHEELS.  Last month, he and his classmates put on their WHEELS sweatshirts, unfurled a banner, waved flags and marched down the streets of Washington Heights in New York City through cheering crowds.  You would have thought it was the Macy’s parade.  (Laughter.)  But the crowds on the sidewalk were parents and teachers and neighbors.  The flags were college pennants.  The march was to the post office, where they mailed in their college applications.  (Applause.)  And Estiven just heard back — this son of a factory worker who didn’t speak much English just six years ago won a competitive scholarship to attend Dickinson College this fall.  (Applause.)

So everywhere you go you’ve got stories like Estiven’s and you’ve got stories like Troy’s.  But we don’t want these to be the exceptions.  We want these to be the rule.  That’s what we owe our young people and that’s what we owe this country.  We all have a stake in restoring that fundamental American idea that says:  It doesn’t matter where you start, what matters is where you end up.  And as parents and as teachers, and as business and philanthropic and political leaders — and as citizens — we’ve all got a role to play.

So I’m going to spend the next three years as President playing mine.  And I look forward to working with you on the same team to make this happen.  Thank you very much, everybody.  (Applause.)

END

12:15 P.M. EST

Political Headlines August 23, 2013: President Barack Obama Fields Questions on Education at Townhall at Binghamton University

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Fields Questions on Education at Townhall

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

In a rare townhall on the second day of his bus tour, President Obama fielded questions ranging from how to keep Head Start funding intact to the education and civil rights progress made since the March on Washington 50 years ago.

“We don’t have an urgent deficit crisis. The only crisis we have is one that’s manufactured in Washington, and it’s ideological,” President Obama told students, faculty, and parents at Binghamton University, the State University of New York, Friday….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency August 23, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Remarks in Town Hall Meeting on College Affordability, College Cost Cutting Plan at Binghamton University

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President in Town Hall at Binghamton University

Source: WH, 8-23-13

Binghamton University
Binghamton, New York

12:48 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Binghamton!  (Applause.)  It is good to see all of you.  Thank you so much.  Now, go ahead and have a seat — I’m going to be here a while.  (Laughter.)

Well, first of all, let me thank the university and your president, Harvey Stenger, for having me here today.  Give your president a big round of applause.  (Applause.)  There he is.    A couple other people I want to recognize — Mayor Matt Ryan is here.  (Applause.)  Two wonderful Congressmen — Richard Hanna and Paul Tonko.  (Applause.)  Your former Representative, Maurice Hinchey, is here as well.  (Applause.)

So, first of all, thank you, because it’s really nice outside, so for you to be willing to come inside, I greatly appreciate.  And I’m not going to do a lot of talking at the top because I want to have a conversation with you about a range of issues, but in particular, something that is personal for me.

A lot of you know that I wasn’t born into a lot of wealth or fame, there wasn’t a long Obama dynasty.  And so the only reason I’m here today, the only reason Michelle and I have been able to accomplish what we accomplished is because we got a great education.  And I think the essence of the American Dream is that anybody who’s willing to work hard is able to get that good education and achieve their dreams.

And central to that is the issue that — you’ve got a big sign there — we try to message effectively — (laughter) — College Affordability — making sure that people can afford to go to college.

I’m on a road trip from New York to Pennsylvania.  Yesterday I was at the University of Buffalo.  I visited students at Syracuse.  Later today, I’m going to meet Joe Biden in Scranton, his hometown.  But I decided to stop here for a couple of reasons.  Number one, I’ve been told that it’s very important for me to get a spiedies while I’m here.  (Laughter and applause.)  So we’re going to pick one up and try it on the road.  Number two, I’m excited because of the great work that SUNY campuses like Binghamton are doing to keep costs down for hardworking students like so many of you.

Chancellor Zimpher is making sure that hundreds of thousands of SUNY students all across the state are getting a world-class higher education but without some of the debt and financial burden that is stopping too many young people from going to college.  And that’s what we want for all of our students and all of our families all across the country.

Over the past month, I’ve been visiting towns throughout America, and I’ve talked about how do we secure a better bargain for the middle class and everybody who’s trying to work their way into the middle class.

We’ve fought our way through a very brutal recession, and now we’re at a point where we’re creating jobs, the economy is growing, budget deficits are falling, health care inflation has been reduced.  And yet there are still a lot of working families out there who are having a tough time in this competitive global economy that we live in.

And the fact is even before this last financial crisis, we had increasingly an economy where folks at the top were doing better and better and better, but the average individual or family was seeing their incomes and their wages flat-lining.  And you start getting a tale of two Americas.  And the whole premise of upward mobility in this country, which is central to who we understand ourselves to be, was being diminished for too many people.  So, from my perspective, reversing that trend should be Washington’s highest priority.  It’s certainly my highest priority.

Unfortunately, what we’ve seen in Washington all too often is, instead of focusing on how do we bring good middle-class jobs back to America, how do we make sure the economy is growing robustly and that growth is broad-based, we’ve been spending a lot of time arguing about whether we should be paying our bills that we’ve already accrued.  Or the discussion has been about slashing spending on education and basic research and science — all the things that are going to make sure that we remain competitive for the future.

Most recently, there’s been threats that we would shut down the government unless we agree to roll back the health care reform that’s about to provide millions of Americans with health care coverage for the first time.  And that’s not an economic plan.  That’s not going to grow the economy.  That’s not going to strengthen the middle class and it’s not going to create ladders of opportunity into the middle class.

What we need to do is focus on the pocketbook, bread-and-butter issues that affect all of you — making sure we’ve got good jobs with good wages; a good education; a home of your own; affordable health care; a secure retirement; and a way for people who are currently in poverty to get out of poverty.  That’s what we should be spending our time thinking about when it comes to domestic policy.  That’s what’s always made America great.  And nothing is more important to that process than what we’re doing in terms of K through 12 education and higher education.

Now, here’s the challenge:  At the time when higher education has never been more important — and when I say higher education I mean two-year, four-year, technical colleges — it doesn’t all have to be four-year, traditional bachelor of arts or sciences — at a time when that’s never been more important, college has never been more expensive.

And in fact, what you’ve seen is, is that over the last three decades, the cost of higher education has gone up 260 percent, at a time when family incomes have gone up about 18 percent.  So I’m not a math major — there are probably some here — but if you’ve got one line going up 260 percent and another line going up 16 percent, you start getting a bigger and bigger gap.  And what’s happened as a consequence is that either college has become out of reach for too many people, or young people are being loaded up with more and more debt.

Now, we’ve tried to close that gap.  When I came into office, we reformed our financial aid system, so the student loan programs were being run through banks and banks were making billions of dollars on it, and we said let’s just give the money directly to students, cut out the middleman.  And we then were able to re-funnel billions of dollars to provide more students with more grants and more assistance.  We’ve done our best to keep interest rates on student loans as low as possible.

But even with all the work that we’re doing there, the fact is the average student is still coming out with $26,000 worth of debt when they graduate.  And for a lot of students it’s much more than that.  And particularly, for those young people who are choosing careers where — like teaching, where they may not make a lot of money, if they’re burdened with tens of thousands of dollars of debt, in some cases it’s impossible for them ever to pay it off — or they have to put off buying a home, or starting a business, or starting a family.  And that has a depressive effect on our economy overall.  So it’s not just bad for the students, it’s also bad for the economy as a whole.

The bottom line is this:  We can’t price higher education so prohibitively that ordinary families can’t afford it.  That will ruin our chances to make sure the 21st century is the American Century just like the 20th century was.

So what we’ve done — and I announced this yesterday — is propose three basic reforms to try to shake the system up.

Number one, we want to start rating colleges based on how well they’re doing in providing good value and opportunity for students.  I mean, right now you’ve got a bunch of ranking systems, some of them commercial, and when you look at what’s being rated it’s typically how selective the schools are, how few students they take in, and how expensive they are and what are their facilities like.  And what we want to do is to start looking at factors like how much debt do students leave with, and do they actually graduate, and do they graduate in four years as opposed to six or eight or 10, and do they find a job after they graduate — giving some concrete measures that will allow students and families to gauge if I go to this school, am I going to get a good deal.

And since taxpayers are often providing those families and students assistance, we want to make sure taxpayers are getting a good deal as well.  And that will create an atmosphere in which college presidents and trustees start thinking about affordability and don’t just assume that tuition can keep on going up and up and up.

Now, what we’re also going to be doing is putting pressure on state legislatures to rebalance, because part of the reason so many state universities have had to increase tuition is because state legislative priorities have shifted all across the country — more money into prisons, less money into schools.  That means that costs are passed on to students in the form of higher tuition.  So we’ve got to do something about that.

And we’re also going to ask a little more from students.  What we’re going to say to students is you need to actually finish courses before you take out more loans and more grants.  And we want to say that to students not to be punitive, but instead, to prevent a situation where students end up taking out a lot of debt but never actually getting the degree, which puts them in a deeper financial hole than they otherwise would be.

So that’s point number one.  Second, we want to jumpstart competition among colleges and states to think of more innovative ways to reduce costs.  And there are schools that are doing some terrific work in reducing costs while maintaining high-quality education.  So, for example, there are some schools that are experimenting where you can get credits based on your competency, as opposed to how much time you’re spending in the classroom.

There’s no law that says you have to graduate — that for you to be in school for four years rather than three or three and a half somehow automatically gives you a better education.  And so, schools are experimenting with how can we compress the time and thereby reduce the costs.  Are there ways that we can use online learning to improve the educational quality and, at the same time, make things a little cheaper for students?

So we’re going to work with states, schools, university presidents to see what’s working and what’s not.  And let’s spread best practices all across the country.

And then the third thing we want to do is to is to expand and better advertise a program that we put in place and expanded when I came into office, and that is a program that says for college graduates who do have debt we’re going to cap the monthly payments that you have to make to 10 percent of your income.

And the notion is that that way it’s manageable, and you’re not going to have to make career decisions simply based on how much money can I make to pay off those student loans.  If I want to be a teacher, if I want to be a social worker, if I want to go into public service, then I can do that and I’m still going to be able to act responsibly and pay off my debt.

We already have that program in place, but it’s not as widely known as it needs to be, and not as many young people are eligible for it as we want them to be.  So we’re going to work to improve on that front.

Bottom line is we need to stop taking the same business-as-usual approach when it comes to college education.  Not all the reforms that we’re proposing are going to be popular.  There are some who are benefitting from the status quo.  There will be some resistance.  There’s going to have to be a broad-based conversation, but part of our goal here is to stir a conversation because the current path that we’re on is unsustainable.  And it’s my basic belief and I suspect the belief of most people here, higher education shouldn’t be a luxury.  It’s an economic necessity in this knowledge-based economy.  And we want to make sure that every family in America can afford it.  (Applause.)

So I’m interested if you guys have other ideas — if you have other ideas about things that we should be looking at, we want to hear them.  And that’s part of the purpose of this town hall discussion.  I’m interested in hearing your stories, getting your questions.  And this will be a pretty informal affair — well, as informal as it gets when the President comes — (laughter) — and there are a bunch of cameras everywhere.

So with that, I’d just like to start the discussion.  And what I’m going to do is I’m just going to call on folks.  Just raise your hand.  I would ask you to stand up, introduce yourself.  There are people with mics and they’ll bring the mic to you.  And I’m going to go girl, boy, girl, boy, to make sure that it’s fair.  (Laughter.)  All right?

So we’ll start with this young lady right here in the striped top.

Q    Thank you.  It’s an honor to have you here today.

THE PRESIDENT:  Hold on a second.  I think — here we go.

Q    Thank you.  It’s an honor to have you here today, Mr. President.  I’m from the Decker School of Nursing here, which is an outstanding school of nursing that has excellent outcomes.

My question today is, because advanced practice nurses, primarily nurse practitioners and nurse midwives, have such an outstanding reputation, we have good outcomes.  And the Affordable Care Act is ready to be rolled out soon.  Nurse practitioners and advanced practice nurses are in an excellent position to really serve vulnerable populations and people who don’t have care.  I’m wondering if there’s any provisions within your educational act that would support health care workers and nurse practitioners to create a sustainable workforce that would be able to support caring for people as we roll out the Affordable Care Act.

THE PRESIDENT:  It is a great question.  Now, first of all, let me — without buttering you up — I love nurses.  (Laughter.) Michelle and I have been blessed, we haven’t been sick too much, but — knock on wood.  But every interaction we’ve had at the hospital, the doctors are wonderful and we appreciate them, but I know when Malia and Sasha were being born, we spent 90 percent of the time with the nurses and 10 percent with the OB/GYN.  When my grandmother got sick and was passing away at the end, it was nurses who were caring for her in an incredible compassionate but also professional way.

And you’re absolutely right that one of the keys to reducing our health care costs overall is recognizing the incredible value of advanced practice nurses and giving them more responsibilities because there’s a lot of stuff they can do in a way that, frankly, is cheaper than having a doctor do it, but the outcomes are just as good.

The challenge we have is we still have a nursing shortage in too many parts of the country.  My understanding — you probably know this better than I do — part of the problem is, is that too many professors of nursing or instructors in nursing are getting paid less than actual nurses.  So what ends up happening is we don’t have enough slots in some of the nursing schools.  That may not be true here, but there are parts of the country where that’s true.

So we have to upgrade a little bit the schools of nursing and make sure that they’re properly resourced so that we have enough instructors.  And, in fact, as part of the Affordable Care Act, one of the things that we thought about was how are we going to expand and improve the number of nurses and making sure that they can actually finance their educations.  And so there are some special programs for nurses who are committing themselves — as well as doctors who are committing themselves — to serving in underserved communities.  And we will be happy to get that information to the school of nursing here.

One other element to this that I think is really interesting — we’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about making sure that our veterans coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan are getting the opportunities they need.  So we instituted something called the Post-9/11 GI Bill that provides the same kind of support that my grandfather got when he came back from World War II.

And the young people who have served in our armed forces just do extraordinary work.  One of the problems, though, is, is that they don’t always get credit for the skills that they already possess when they come home.  So one — and we’ve got a gentleman here who’s a veteran.  And one great example actually is in the medical profession — when you get medics coming back who served in the worst possible circumstances, out in theater, having to make life-or-death decisions — I met a young man up in Minnesota.  He had come back, wanted to continue to pursue his career and become a professional nurse, and he was having to start from scratch, taking the equivalent of Nursing 101.

And what we’re trying to do is to make sure that states and institutions of higher learning recognize some of the skills, because as we bring more and more of our veterans home — we’ll be ending the war in Afghanistan by the end of next year — we want to make sure that those folks have the opportunity to succeed here in America.  (Applause.)  Great question, though.

All right.  It’s a guy’s turn.  Right here, yes.  Hold on, let’s get a mic all the way to the back.

Q    Hello, Mr. President.  I’m glad for you to come to Binghamton University.  I’m the director of Rainbow Pride Union here, and it’s the largest LGBT organization on campus.  And my main concern is that I know a lot of stories of people who are LGBT who come out to their parents, and their parents are supporting them financially for college, and when they come out their parents cut out that support.  I was wondering if maybe in the future part of your affordability for college would be able to include LGBT people.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, first of all, the programs that we have in place don’t discriminate and shouldn’t discriminate.  And the good news is I think the phenomenon that you just described is likely to happen less and less and less with each successive year.  I mean, think about the incredible changes that have been made just over the last decade,  DOMA is gone.  “Don’t ask, don’t tell” is gone.  But more importantly, people’s hearts and minds have changed.  And I think that’s reflective of parents as well.

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t still going to be struggles internally, but I think, more and more, what we recognize is, is that just as we judge people on — should judge people on the basis of their character, and not their color or religion or gender, the same is true for their sexual orientation.

So I don’t suspect that we’ll have special laws pertaining to young people who are cut off from support by their parents because their parents hadn’t gotten to the place I think they should be when it comes to loving and supporting their kids regardless of who they are, but we are going to make sure that all young people get the support that they need so that if their parents aren’t willing to provide them support, and they’re functionally independent, that they’re able to still go to college and succeed.  All right?

Right here, in the Obama t-shirt.  (Laughter.)  You know, so if you — here’s a general rule in the presidential town hall:  If you want to get called on, wear the President’s face on your shirt.  (Laughter.)

Q    Good afternoon, President Obama.  I’m a graduate student in the College of Community and Public Affairs.  I study student affairs administration.  With that being said, as we’re all students, we know how vital it is to have a good foundation in our education. How does your administration plan to address the major budget cuts that are happening with Head Start schools around the U.S.?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, this is a great question.  And this will be a major topic over the next several months.  First of all, I want to expand early childhood education so that it’s accessible for every young person in America.  (Applause.)

And I talked about this in my State of the Union address.  It is just common sense.  We know, study after study has shown that the biggest bang for the buck that we get when it comes to education is to invest early.

If we get 3-year-olds, 4-year-olds well prepared when they start school that momentum continues.  If they start behind, too often they stay behind.  Kids are resilient and they can make up for some tough stuff early on in life, but it’s a lot harder for them than if we get them young.

In fact, studies have shown that there’s some very smart programs out there where you identify low-income single moms in the maternity ward, and nurses talk to them immediately not just about the health of their child, but also parenting, and create a little packet with some books and some toys, and talk about engagement and expanding vocabulary.  All that can make a difference.  And high-quality early childhood education can continue that process so that by the time the kid starts school, they know their colors, they know their letters.  They’re ready to go.

Now, unfortunately, right now the federal budget generally has been a political football in Washington.  Partly, this came out of the financial crisis.  We had a terrible crisis.  We had to immediately pump money into the system to prevent a great depression.  So we cut taxes for middle-class families.  We initiated programs to rebuild our roads and our bridges.  We helped states so that they wouldn’t have to lay off as many teachers and firefighters and police officers.  And that’s part of the reason why we avoided a depression, although we still had a terrible recession.

But the combination of increased spending and less revenue meant that the deficit went up.  And by the time the Republicans took over the House in 2011, they had made this a major issue.  And, understandably, a lot of families said, well, we’re having to tighten our belts — the federal government should, too.  Although, part of what you want the federal government to do when everybody else is having a hard time is to make sure that you’re providing additional support.

As the economy has improved, the deficit has gone down.  It’s now dropped at the fastest rate in 60 years.  I want to repeat that, because a lot of people think that — if you ask the average person what’s happening with the deficit, they’d tell you it’s going up.  The deficit has been cut in half since 2009 and is on a downward trajectory.  (Applause.)  And it’s gone down faster than any time since World War II.

So we don’t have a problem in terms of spending on education.  We don’t have a problem when it comes to spending on research and development.  We do have a long-term problem that has to do with our health care programs, Medicare and Medicaid.  The good news is, is that in part because of the Affordable Care Act — Obamacare — costs have actually gone down — health care inflation has gone down to the slowest rate that we’ve seen in a long time.

So we’re starting to get health care costs under control.  We’ll still have to make some modifications when it comes to our long-term entitlement program so that they’re there for young people here when they are ready for retirement.

But we don’t have an urgent deficit crisis.  The only crisis we have is one that’s manufactured in Washington, and it’s ideological.  And the basic notion is, is that we shouldn’t be helping people get health care, and we shouldn’t be helping kids who can’t help themselves and whose parents are under-resourced  — we shouldn’t be helping them get a leg up.  And so some of the proposals we’ve seen now are talking about even deeper cuts in programs like Head Start; even deeper cuts in education support; even deeper cuts in basic science and research.

And that’s like eating your corn seed.  It’s like being pennywise and pound-foolish.  Because if young people aren’t succeeding, if we’re not spending on research and maintaining our technological edge, if we’re not upgrading our roads and our bridges and our transportation systems and our infrastructure — all things that we can afford to do right now and should be doing right now, and would put people to work right now — if we don’t do those things, then 20 years from now, 30 years from now we will have fallen further and further behind.

So when we get back to Washington — when Congress gets back to Washington, this is going to be a major debate.  It’s the same debate we’ve been having for the last two years.  The difference is now deficits are already coming down.  And what we should really be thinking about is how do we grow an economy so that we’re creating a growing, thriving middle class, and we’re creating more ladders of opportunity for people who are willing to work hard to get into the middle class.

And my position is going to be that we can have a budget that is sensible, that doesn’t spend on programs that don’t work, but does spend wisely on those things that are going to help ordinary people succeed.  All right?  Good.

Let’s see.  It is a gentleman’s turn.  This gentleman right here.  He’s had his hand up for a while.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Yay!  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, that settles it.  You have a little cheering section there.  (Laughter.)

Q    Hello, Mr. President.  I’m a faculty member of the computer science department.  I’m very excited and encouraged by your plan on the affordability reform.  My question is related about the quality of future higher education.  As you know, many universities are trying their best to provide the best value by doing better with less.  But the challenges are real, and they’re getting tougher and tougher as the budget cuts are getting tougher and tougher.  So my question is what your administration will do to ensure the best American universities remain to be the best in the world in the 21st century?  Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, first of all, what’s really important is to make sure that we’re supporting great teachers.  And since you got an applause line, you must be a pretty good one.  (Laughter.)  And I don’t think that there is a conflict between quality and paying attention to costs as it’s affecting students.

Now, I mentioned earlier, one of the big problems that we’ve seen in public universities is a diminished level of support from states, state legislatures.  And part of what we’re going to try to do is to provide more incentives to states to boost the support that they’re giving to colleges and universities.

Traditionally, when you think of the great state university systems, it was because those states understood if we invest in our people we’ll have a better-trained workforce, which means companies will want to locate here, which creates a virtuous cycle and everybody benefits.

But starting, let’s say, 15 years ago, 20 years ago, you saw a trend in which state legislatures who were trying to balance their budgets kept on cutting support to state education.  What happened was that — and I don’t know whether this is true, Mr. President, for SUNY, but around the country, on average, what you’ve seen is a drop from about 46 percent of the revenues of a public college coming from states down to about 25 percent.  It’s almost been cut in half.  And essentially, the only way these schools have figured to make it up is to charge higher tuition.

So states have to do their jobs.  But what is true also, though, is that universities and faculty need to come up with ways to also cut costs while maintaining quality — because that’s what we’re having to do throughout our economy.  And sometimes when I talk to college professors — and, keep in mind, I taught in a law school for 10 years, so I’m very sympathetic to the spirit of inquiry and the importance of not just looking at X’s and O’s and numbers when it comes to measuring colleges.  But what I also know is, is that there are ways we can save money that would not diminish quality.

This is probably controversial to say, but what the heck, I’m in my second term so I can say it.  (Laughter.)  I believe, for example, that law schools would probably be wise to think about being two years instead of three years — because by the third year — in the first two years young people are learning in the classroom.  The third year they’d be better off clerking or practicing in a firm, even if they weren’t getting paid that much.  But that step alone would reduce the cost for the student.

Now, the question is can law schools maintain quality and keep good professors and sustain themselves without that third year.  My suspicion is, is that if they thought creatively about it, they probably could.  Now, if that’s true at a graduate level, there are probably some things that we could do at the undergraduate level as well.

That’s not to suggest that there aren’t some real problems. Colleges, for example, they’ve got health care costs like everybody else.  Personnel is one of the most important — it’s the biggest cost you’ve got.  And if health care costs to provide insurance for your employees is going up as fast as it’s been going up, that affects folks.

So our idea is not to just have some cookie-cutter approach that doesn’t take quality into account.  The idea is, understanding we’ve got to maintain high quality, are there ways that we can reorganize schools, use technology, think about what works so that, overall, we’re creating a better value for the student.

And one of the best things that we could do for students is to make sure that they graduate in a more timely fashion.  And unfortunately, too many young people go to schools where they’re not getting the kind of support and advice on the front end that they need and they drift, and four years, five years, six years into it, they’ve got a bunch of credits but it all doesn’t result in actual graduation.  And then they get discouraged.  And that’s an area where we know we can be making improvement as well.

Okay?  And if you’ve got any other ideas, let me know.  (Applause.)

Let’s get a young person in here.  Right there, yes.

Q    Welcome to Binghamton, President Obama.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thanks.

Q    I’m a doctoral student here as well as a writing instructor at Syracuse University.  And I’m interested in the giving of federal funds to students who are going to for-profit colleges — or colleges I might even call predatory.  And I’m very conflicted about this issue and so I’d like to hear your insight.  Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, you probably know more about it than I do since you’ve written about it.  But let me describe for the audience what the challenge is.

For-profit institutions in a lot of sectors of our lives obviously is the cornerstone of our economy.  And we want to encourage entrepreneurship and new ideas and new approaches and new ways of doing things.  So I’m not against for-profit institutions, generally.  But what you’re absolutely right about is, is that there have been some schools that are notorious for getting students in, getting a bunch of grant money, having those students take out a lot of loans, making big profits, but having really low graduation rates.  Students aren’t getting what they need to be prepared for a particular field.  They get out of these for-profit schools loaded down with enormous debt.  They can’t find a job.  They default.  The taxpayer ends up holding the bag.  Their credit is ruined, and the for-profit institution is making out like a bandit.  That’s a problem.

I was mentioning veterans earlier.  Soldiers and sailors and Marines and Coast Guardsmen, they’ve been preyed upon very badly by some of these for-profit institutions.  And we actually created a special task force inside our consumer advocate protection organization that we set up just to look out for members of the armed forces who were being manipulated.  Because what happened was these for-profit schools saw this Post-9/11 GI Bill, that there was a whole bunch of money that the federal government was committed to making sure that our veterans got a good education, and they started advertising to these young people, signing them up, getting them to take a bunch of loans, but they weren’t delivering a good product.

This goes to, then, the point I made earlier about how we can rate schools.  We’re going to spend some time over the course of the next year talking to everybody — talking to university professors, talking to faculty members, talking to students, talking to families — but if we can define some basic parameters of what’s a good value, then it will allow us more effectively to police schools whether they’re for-profit or non-for-profit — because there are some non-for-profit schools, traditional schools that have higher default rates among their graduates than graduation rates — and be able to say to them, look, either you guys step up and improve, or you’re not going to benefit from federal dollars.  (Applause.)

Because there are a bunch of schools like this one that are doing a good job, and we don’t want money being funneled to schools that aren’t doing a good job.  We want to encourage students to be smart shoppers, to be good consumers.

So there are probably more problems in the for-profit sector on this than there are in the traditional non-for-profit colleges, universities and technical schools, but it’s a problem across the board.  And the way to solve it is to make sure that we’ve got ways to measure what’s happening and we can weed out some of the folks that are engaging in bad practices.

Great question.

All right, this corner of the room has been neglected.  So the gentleman right there, right in the corner there.

Q    Thank you for taking the time to visit Binghamton University.  I’m a sophomore student of Binghamton University.  I am from Turkey and I want to ask something about the international students.  Most of my friends’ families have been facing some hardships to support them financially.  For example, when we consider two Turkish lira equals one American dollar, this situation is getting more important for us.  We think that the most reason of this situation is the high level of payment.  What do you think, and do you have any working about the situation?  Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, first of all, we’re glad you’re here and we hope you’re having a wonderful experience.  One of the great things about American universities is they are magnets for talent from around the world.  And that has enriched us immeasurably.  It enriches us in part because students who come here and study and excel may end up staying here and working and starting businesses, and that’s always been part of the American experience, is smart, striving immigrants coming here and succeeding.  And that makes everybody better off — which is part of the reason why we‘ve got to get immigration reform done so that if we’re taking the time to train a great computer scientist or engineer or entrepreneur, we’re not, then, just sending them back to their country.  Let’s invite them, if they want to stay, to succeed here and start jobs here and create businesses here.  (Applause.)

Now, obviously, when it comes to federal grants, loans, supports, subsidies that we provide, those are for our citizens. And a lot of Americans are having a tough time affording college, as we talked about, so we can’t spread it too thin.  What we can do, though, is to make sure that if tuition is reasonable for all students who enroll, then it makes it easier for international students to come and study here as well.

So all the things that I talked about before apply to foreign students as well as American students.  We need to make sure that college is affordable, that it’s a good value.  The good news is that there are schools out there that are doing a great job already.  And we just need to make sure that we’re duplicating some of those best practices across the country.

All right, who’s next?  Let’s see, it’s a young lady’s turn, isn’t it?  Okay.  Go ahead, right there in the red — or orange.

Q    My name is Anne Bailey, and I am a faculty member in the History and Afrikana Studies department here.  And I teach African American history and African diaspora studies.  And tomorrow, I’m going to the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.  And I’m going — and I’m going with my son — because I’m here, as you said, because of a good education, and that good education became possible because of that faith-inspired movement that really reached such an important milestone 50 years ago.

And I’m so grateful for the fact that I had that opportunity, and that my son and that these young people will have these opportunities.  But I still kind of wonder where we are now in terms of education and civil rights.  Have we — where do you think we are?  What do we need to do to kind of make sure that it is education for all, including under-represented groups? That’s just my question.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, 50 years after the March on Washington and the “I Have a Dream Speech,” obviously we’ve made enormous strides.  I’m a testament to it.  You’re a testament to it.  The diversity of this room and the students who are here is a testimony to it.  And that impulse towards making sure everybody gets a fair shot is one that found expression in the Civil Rights Movement, but then spread to include Latinos and immigrants and gays and lesbians.

And what’s wonderful to watch is that the younger generation seems — each generation seems wiser in terms of wanting to treat people fairly and do the right thing and not discriminate.  And that’s a great victory that we should all be very proud of.

On the other hand, I think what we’ve also seen is that the legacy of discrimination — slavery, Jim Crow — has meant that some of the institutional barriers for success for a lot of groups still exist.  African American poverty in this country is still significantly higher than other groups.  Same is true for Latinos.  Same is true for Native Americans.

And even if there weren’t active discrimination taking place right now — and obviously, we know that some discrimination still exists, although nothing like what existed 50 years ago — but let’s assume that we eliminated all discrimination magically, with a wand, and everybody had goodness in their heart.  You’d still have a situation in which there are a lot of folks who are poor and whose families have become dysfunctional because of a long legacy of poverty, and live in neighborhoods that are run down and schools that are underfunded and don’t have a strong property tax base.  And it would still be harder for young people born into those communities to succeed than those who were born elsewhere.

So if, in fact, that’s the case — and that is what I believe — then it’s in all of our interests to make sure that we are putting in place smart policies to give those communities a lift, and to create ladders so that young people in those communities can succeed.

Well, what works?  We’ve already talked about what works.   Early childhood education works.  We know that can make a difference.  It’s not going to solve every problem, but it can help level the playing field for kids early in life so that — they’re still going to have to work hard.  Not everybody is going to succeed, but they’ll have a better chance if we put those things in place.

Making college affordable — that makes a difference.  Because we know, in part because of the legacy of discrimination, that communities of color have less wealth.  If they have less wealth, it means that mom and dad have a more difficult time financing college.  Well, we should make sure that every young person, regardless of their color, can access a college education.

I think the biggest challenge we have is not that we don’t know what policies work, it’s getting our politics right.  Because part of what’s happened over the last several decades is, because times have been tough, because wages and incomes for everybody have not been going up, everybody is pretty anxious about what’s happening in their lives and what might happen for their kids, and so they get worried that, well, if we’re helping people in poverty, that must be hurting me somehow, it’s taking something away from me.

And part of what I think we have to understand is that America has always been most successful, we’ve always grown fastest, and everybody’s incomes have gone up fastest when our economic growth is broad-based, not just when a few people are doing well at the top, but when everybody is doing well.

And so if working people and folks who are struggling — whether they’re white, black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, disabled, LGBT — if working folks join together around common principles and policies that will help lift everybody, then everybody will be better off — including, by the way, the folks at the top.  Because when the economy is growing and people have jobs and people are seeing better incomes, they go out and they shop more.  And that means businesses are doing better.  And you buy a new iPod and Apple is happy, and shareholders are pleased.

But unfortunately, we’ve got politics sometimes that divides instead of bringing people together.  And we’ve seen that over the last couple of years, the tendency to suggest somehow that government is taking something from you and giving it to somebody else, and your problems will be solved if we just ignore them or don’t help them.  And, that, I think is something that we have to constantly struggle against — whether we’re black or white or whatever color we are.

All right?  Thank you.  (Applause.)

How much time do we got?  I want to make sure that I get a couple more questions in here.  Two more.  We’ll make it three.  (Laughter.)  We’ll make it three.  This gentleman right here in the front.  Here, we got a mic right here.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  My name is Adam Flint.  I work currently at Cooperative Extension, but I’ve been connected to this institution since 1966.  And I want to tell you about the Broome Energy Conservation Corps where we are educating, training and also employing Binghamton University graduates and current students to really take the vision that, well, Kennedy and others advanced of service to the problems of the community and to the country.

And at Cooperative Extension, our energy corps students are helping people who could not benefit from energy efficiency, they’re helping getting people employed with local home performance contactors.  And we could do so much more if it were possible for programs like ours across the country to be able to know that we’re going to be here in 2014, which we don’t right now.

And so I guess we’ve been in discussions with Harvey and with many of the people in this room, with Matt Ryan, with many of the senior Binghamton University folks, and we’d really like to see coming out of Washington some good news about funding for the green economy for the future and for our ability to give a future to our children that right now I’m doubtful about.

You have two girls.  I’ve got two girls.  And this is the last century of fossil fuels, so we’ve got to make it happen.  With this energy corps, we could move to food corps and on and on and on.  I’ve said enough.  I’m afraid it’s one of the family business of the professoriate to say too much.  And I’m going to shut up and listen to the wisdom that I hope you will bring to my question.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, as you indicated in your remarks, we are going to have to prepare for a different energy future than the one we have right now.

Now, we’re producing traditional energy — fossil fuels — at record levels.  And we’ve actually achieved, or are on the verge of achieving about as close as you can get to energy independence as America is going to see.  I mean, natural gas, oil, all that stuff is going up.

In some cases, what you’ve seen is that, for example, transitional fuels like natural gas have replaced coal, which temporarily are reducing greenhouse gases.  But the bottom line is those are still finite resources.  Climate change is real.  The planet is getting warmer.  And you’ve got several billion Chinese, Indians, Africans and others who also want cars, refrigerators, electricity.  And as they go through their development cycle, the planet cannot sustain the same kinds of energy use as we have right now.  So we’re going to have to make a shift.

That’s why when I came into office, we made record investments in green energy.  And that’s why I think it’s critical for us to invest in research and development around clean energy.  And that’s why it sounds like programs like yours need to take advantage of technologies that already exist.

We’re going to have to invent some new technologies to solve all of our energy problems.  But we know, for example, the low-hanging fruit of energy efficiency.  We know that if we design our schools, homes, hospitals more efficiently, that as a country we could probably cut our power usage by 20, 25, 30 percent with existing technologies, and without lowering our standard of living.

And, by the way, we can put a whole bunch of folks to work doing it right now.  We could gather up a whole bunch of young people here in this community, train them for insulation, for energy-efficient construction, and redo a whole bunch of buildings and institutions right here, and eventually it would pay for itself.  So it’s win-win across the board.

Unfortunately, what we’ve seen too often in Congress is that the fossil fuel industries tend to be very influential — let’s put it that way — on the energy committees in Congress.  And they tend not to be particularly sympathetic to alternative energy strategies.  And, in some cases, we’ve actually been criticized that it’s a socialist plot that’s restricting your freedom for us to encourage energy-efficient light bulbs, for example.  I never understood that.  (Laughter.)  But you hear those arguments.  I mean, you can go on the Web, and people will be decrying how simple stuff that we’re doing, like trying to set up regulations to make appliances more energy-efficient — which saves consumers money and is good for our environment — is somehow restricting America’s liberty and violates the Constitution.

So a lot of our job is to educate the public as to why this can be good for them — in a very narrow self-interested way.  This is not pie in the sky.  This is not tree-hugging, sprout-eating university professors.  (Laughter.)  This is a practical, hardheaded, smart, business-savvy approach to how we deal with energy.  And we should be investing it and encouraging it and expanding it.  And so I budgeted for it.  I will fight for it.

But just as I will be advocating and fighting for Head Start or increases in our science and technology funding, the challenge is going to be that my friends in the other party right now in Congress seem less interested in actual governing and taking practical strategies, and seem more interested in trying to placate their base or scoring political points.  Or they’re worried about primaries in the upcoming election.

That can’t be how we run a country.  That’s not responsible leadership.  (Applause.)  And my hope is, is that we’ll see a different attitude when we get back.  But we’ll only see a different attitude if the public pushes folks in a different direction.

Ultimately, what has an impact on politicians is votes.  And that influence is not — it can’t just come from districts that are strongly Democratic.  We need voices in Republican districts to say this is a smart thing to do.  And we can make — and, by the way, businesses can make money doing it, and people can get jobs doing it.  And it’s just sensible.  And it’s good, by the way, for our national security because those countries that control the energy sources of the future, they’re the ones that are going to be in a position to succeed economically.

So, all right.  I’ve got time for a couple more.  Yes, right here.

Q    Good afternoon, Mr. President.  I’m an integrative neuroscience major —

THE PRESIDENT:  That sounds very impressive.  (Laughter.)  What was that again?

Q    Integrative neuroscience.

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay, so tell me about that.  Explain that to me.  It has something to do with the brain and nerves and —

Q    It’s a mix between psychology and biology.

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.

Q    So it’s not as impressive as —

THE PRESIDENT:  No, it’s very impressive.  (Laughter.)  Come on.  Absolutely.  Anyway, what’s the question?

Q    Well, my question today is about financial aid.  Currently, financial aid eligibility is based on — or heavily based on students’ parents’ income.  Now, there are many middle-class families that send their students to state schools like Binghamton, who live in high-cost regions such as New York City. Now, do you think it’s possible for the financial aid formula to include the living costs of the region that applicants live in?  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  It’s an interesting question, and sounds like it’s got some sympathy.  What’s absolutely true is that what it means to be middle class in New York is going to be different than what it means to be middle class in Wyoming, just in terms of how far your dollar goes.  And I think it is a relevant question.

It is a challenging problem because if you start getting into calibrating cost of living just in a state like New York, a big state that has such diversity in terms of cost of living, then it might get so complicated that it would be difficult to administer.  But why don’t I just say this:  I think it is a important question, and I’m going to talk to Secretary Arne Duncan about it and find out what kind of research and work we’ve done on that issue to see if we can potentially make a difference.

Now, one way of handling this would not be at the federal level but potentially at the state level.  So you could manage something at the state level, where people may have a better sense of the differences in cost of living in a state, and say, we’ll make some adjustments for students who are coming from higher-cost areas versus lower-cost areas.  That might be easier to do than to try to administer it at the federal level from Washington for all 50 states.

But I’ll check with the Department of Education.  And I’ll make sure my team gets your email so that you get a personal answer from the Secretary.  (Applause.)

I’ve got one last question and I want to make sure it’s a student.  Are you a student?

Q    Maybe.

THE PRESIDENT:  Maybe?  No, that doesn’t count if he said maybe.  (Laughter.)

You are?

Q    I am.

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay, this young man right here.  (Laughter.)  I just wanted to make sure.  He might have been a young-looking professor.  (Laughter.)

Q    Mr. President, I’m Danny.  I’m from here — I’m a student here.  I’m from the community college.  My question is — you spoke about increasing financial aid for college students.  However, I feel that with the competitive job market, a bachelor’s will not be enough to secure a job.  My question is will any of these funds go towards grad school programs?  Or will it be strictly limited to undergraduate education?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, first of all, a good undergraduate education means you are much more employable and you’re much more likely to get a job.  Each additional chunk of education that you get — if done well, if you’re getting good value — is going to enhance your marketability.  And we see that in the statistics.  That’s not just talk.

The fact is that the average American who has more than a college education or greater is a third less likely to be unemployed than somebody who just graduated from high school.  So don’t underestimate the power of an undergraduate education.  It can make a difference.

Now, what’s true is that if you, for example, in computer sciences want to get a master’s in computer science or a Ph.D. in computer science, presumably that will make you even more marketable.  And we want to make sure that financial aid is also available for graduate students.  And the way programs currently exist, that financial aid does exist, although typically you get fewer subsidies and a less favorable interest rate for graduate education.

We’re probably not going to be able to completely solve that, and here’s the reason why.  I got a lot of scholarships and grant money for my undergraduate education, so I didn’t have a lot of debt when I got out.  I then decided to go to law school. And I went to a very good law school that was very expensive.  Most of my debt when I graduated was from law school; I had about $60,000 worth of debt.  But the truth was I was able to — if I wanted to, at least — earn so much money coming out of law school that I really didn’t need a subsidy.  I could pay it back. It took me a little longer to pay it back than some of my friends because I went into public service and I didn’t try to maximize my income.  But if I had been a partner at a law firm pulling down half a million dollars a year, there’s no reason why I should necessarily have gotten a subsidy for that.

The one area where I think we can make a big difference goes back to the very first question that was asked of me when it came to schools of nursing.  Across the board in graduate school, what we want to do is to provide incentives for folks who need specialized education but are willing to give back something to the community, to the country — doctors who are willing to serve in underserved communities, nurses who are willing to serve in underserved communities, lawyers who are willing to work in the State’s Attorney’s Office or as a public defender.

So the more we can do around programs for graduate studies where we say to you, if you’re willing to commit to five years working in a place that doesn’t have a doctor and you’re studying to be a doctor, we’re going to forgive you a bunch of those loans — I’d like to see more programs like that.  And I’ve asked the Secretary of Education to see how we can make those more accessible to more students.

Well, listen, everybody, this has been a great conversation. (Applause.)  And let me just say that you will be hearing more about this debate over the course of the next year.  We will be talking to your university president.  We’ll be talking to the chancellor of the entire system.  We’ll be talking to faculty.  We’ll be talking to students.  If you have ideas or questions that were not somehow addressed, then we’d like to hear from you. And go to whitehouse.gov.  There’s a whole section where we can get comments, ideas.  And I promise you we actually pay attention when you guys raise questions.

And for those of you who are still sorting out student aid  — if you’re still in high school, for example, and you’re thinking about going to college and you don’t know exactly what makes sense for you, we do have a website called studentaid.gov that can be very helpful to you in identifying what you should be thinking about when it comes to financing your college education.

But we’re going to do everything we can to make sure that not only are you able to succeed without being loaded up with debt, but hopefully, you’re going to be able to afford to send your kids to college as well.

Thank you for your great hospitality.  I appreciate it.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END
1:55 P.M. EDT

Political Headlines August 23, 2013: President Barack Obama’s College Affordability Bus Tour Roundup

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Regional Roundup: College Affordability Bus Tour 

 Source: WH, 8-23-13

President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the University at Buffalo, the State University of New YorkPresident Barack Obama delivers remarks at the University at Buffalo, the State University of New York, during the college affordability bus tour in Buffalo, N.Y., Aug. 22, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Yesterday, as part of his plan to deliver a better bargain for the middle class, President Obama kicked off a two-day bus tour across New York and Pennsylvania in which he announced an ambitious agenda to tackle rising college costs, make college more affordable, and improve value for students and families.

In his first stop at the University at Buffalo, the President laid out the three key steps that we need to take to ensure that college remains affordable and a viable ladder of economic opportunity for the middle class and those working to get there. First, connect financial aid to school performance, second support academic innovation and finally, keep the cost of higher education within the reach of all young Americans….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency August 22, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech on College Affordability, College Cost Cutting Plan, Syracuse NY

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President on College Affordability, Syracuse NY

Source:  WH, 8-22-13

Henninger High School
Syracuse, New York

6:25 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Syracuse!  (Applause.)  It is good to be in Syracuse!  (Applause.)

Can everybody give Emilio a big round of applause for a great introduction?  (Applause.)  I think Emilio’s parents are probably here.  Where are Emilio’s parents?  Wave your hands.  There they are right there.  He did pretty good, didn’t he?  We’re very proud of him.  We might have to run him for something.

In addition to Emilio, I want to mention a couple other people.  You already heard from Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who’s doing a great job every day.  (Applause.)  You’ve got Mayor Stephanie Miner here.  (Applause.)  There she is.  Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is here.  (Applause.)  Your Congressman, Dan Maffei, is here.  (Applause.)  The superintendent of the Syracuse City School District, Sharon Contreras, is here.  (Applause.)  Your principal, Robert DiFlorio, is here.  (Applause.)  And most importantly, a bunch of students are here.  (Applause.)

My understanding is there are students from all five Syracuse high schools here.  You got Corcoran in the house.  (Applause.)  You got Fowler in the house.  (Applause.)  Nottingham.  (Applause.)  The Institute of Technology.  (Applause.)  And our host, Henninger, is here.  (Applause.)  We’re all one family.

Now, I especially want to thank the students because I know that you’re still on summer vacation.  You’ve got a few more days.  So taking the time to be here when you’ve still got a little bit, that last little bit of summer break, that’s a big deal, and I’m very honored to be here with you.

I am on a road trip — by the way, if people have seats, feel free to take a seat.  I’m going to be talking for a while.  If you’ve got no seats, then don’t sit down — (laughter) — because you will fall down.  (Laughter.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love you!

THE PRESIDENT:  I love you back.  (Applause.)

So I’m here on a road trip through New York into  Pennsylvania.  This morning, I was at the University at Buffalo. Tomorrow, I’ll be at Binghamton University and Lackawanna College in Scranton.  But I wanted to come to Syracuse — (applause) — because you’re doing something fantastic here, with programs like “Say Yes” — (applause) — Smart Scholars Early College High School — these are programs that are helping Syracuse kids get ready for college, and making sure that they can afford to go.

And this is a community effort.  All of you are coming together and you have declared that no child in the city of Syracuse should miss out on a college education because they can’t pay for it.  (Applause.)  And so we’re hoping more cities follow your example, because what you’re doing is critical not just to Syracuse’s future, but to America’s future.  And that’s what I want to talk about briefly here today.

Over the past month, I’ve been visiting towns across the country, talking about what we need to do to secure a better bargain for the middle class and everybody who’s working hard to get into the middle class — to make sure everybody who works hard has a chance to succeed in the 21st century economy.

And we all understand that for the past four and a half years, we had to fight our way back from a brutal recession, and millions of Americans lost their jobs and their homes and their  savings.  But what the recession also did was it showed this emerging gap in terms of the life prospects of a lot of Americans.

What used to be taken for granted — middle-class security

— has slipped away from too many people.  So, yes, we saved the auto industry.  We took on a broken health care system.  (Applause.)  We reversed our addiction to foreign oil.  We changed our tax code that was tilted too far in favor of the wealthy at the expense of working families.  And so we’ve made progress.  Our businesses have created 7.3 million new jobs over the last 41 months.  (Applause.)  We’ve got more renewable energy than ever.  We are importing less oil than in a very long time.

We sell more goods made in America to the rest of the world than ever before.  Health care costs are growing at the slowest rate in 50 years.  Our deficits are falling at the fastest rate in 60 years.

So there’s good news out there.  And thanks to the grit and the resilience of the American people, we’ve been able to clear away the rubble from the financial crisis, and start laying the foundation for a better economy.  But as any middle-class family will tell you, we are not —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT:  I hear you.  I got you.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  No, no, no, that’s fine.  Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait.  We’re okay.  We’re okay.  That’s okay.  Hold on a second.  Hold on.  Hold on.  Hello, everybody, hello.  Hold on.  Hold on a minute.  Hold on a minute.  Hold on.  So, now — hold on a second.  (Applause.)  Can I just say that as hecklers go, that young lady was very polite.  (Laughter.)  She was.  And she brought up an issue of importance, and that’s part of what America is all about.  (Applause.)

But what America is also all about is making sure that middle-class families succeed, and that people who work hard can get into the middle class.  And what I was saying was is that we’re not where we need to be yet.  We’ve still got more work to do.  Because even before the most recent financial crisis, we had gone through a decade where folks at the top were doing better and better; most families were working harder and harder just to get by.  And we’ve seen growing inequality in our society and less upward mobility in our society.

The idea used to be that here in America anybody could make it.  But part of that was because we put these ladders of opportunity for people.  And, unfortunately, what’s happened is it’s gotten tougher for a lot of folks.  So we’ve got to reverse these trends.  This has to be Washington’s highest priority — how do we make sure everybody gets a fair shake.  That’s got to be our priority.  (Applause.)

Unfortunately, you may have noticed that in Washington, rather than focusing on a growing economy and creating good, middle-class jobs, there’s a certain faction of my good friends in the other party who’ve been talking about not paying the bills that they’ve already run up; who’ve been talking about shutting down the government if they can’t take away health care that we’re putting in place for millions of Americans.

Those are not ideas that will grow our economy.  They’re not going to create good jobs.  They’re not going to strengthen the middle class — they’ll weaken the middle class.  So we can’t afford the usual Washington circus of distractions and political posturing.  We don’t need that.  What we’ve got to do is to build on the cornerstones of what it means to be middle class in America — a good job, good wages, a good education, a home, affordable health care, a secure retirement.  That’s what we need to focus on.  (Applause.)

And we’ve got to create as many pathways as possible for people to succeed as long as they’re willing to work hard.  That’s what’s always made America great.  We don’t judge ourselves just by how many billionaires we produce.  We’ve got to focus on our ability to make sure that everybody who works hard has a chance to pursue their own measure of happiness.

And in that project, in that work, there aren’t a lot of things that are more important than making sure people get a good education.  That is key to upward mobility.  That is key to a growing economy.  That is key to a strong middle class.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love you!

THE PRESIDENT:  Love you back.  (Laughter.)

Now, everybody here knows that.  That’s why you’re here.  That’s why a lot of your families are making big sacrifices to send kids to college.  You understand that in the face of global competition, a great education is more important than ever.  A higher education is the single best investment you can make in your future.  (Applause.)  Single best.  And I’m proud of all of the students who are working toward that goal.

And in case any of you are wondering whether it’s a good investment, think about these statistics:  The unemployment rate for Americans with at least a college degree is about a third lower than the national average.  The incomes of people with at least a college degree are more than twice what the incomes are of Americans who don’t have a high school diploma.  So more than ever before, some form of higher education — two year, four year, technical college — that’s the path into the middle class.

But the main reason I’m here is to talk about the fact that we’ve seen a barrier and a burden to too many American families, and that’s the soaring cost of higher education.  (Applause.)  The fact is, college has never been more necessary, but it’s also never been more expensive.

Think about this:  Over the past three decades, the average tuition at a four-year public college has risen by more than 250 percent.  The typical family income has gone up 16 percent.  So I wasn’t a math major, but let’s just think about it — college costs, 250 percent; incomes, 16 percent.  What that means is, is that more and more, it’s getting harder and harder for students to be able to afford that college education.  And families are making bigger and bigger sacrifices — including a lot of parents who are putting off their own retirement, their own savings, because they’re trying to help their kids afford a college education.

In the meantime, over the past few years, you’ve got too many states that have been cutting back on their higher education budgets.  Colleges have not been cutting back on their costs, and so what you end up with is taxpayers putting in more money, students and families picking up the tab, but young people are still ending up with more debt.

The average student who borrows for college now graduates owing more than $26,000.  And a lot of young people owe a lot more than that.  I’ve heard from a lot of these young people, and they’re frustrated because they’re saying to themselves, we’ve done everything our society told us we were supposed to do, but crushing debt is crippling our ability to get started in our lives after we graduate.  It’s crippling our self-reliance and the dreams that we had.

At a time when higher education has never been more important or more expensive, too many students face a choice they should not have to make:  Either they say no to college, or they pay the price of going to college and ending up with debt that they’re not sure will pay off.  And that’s not a choice that we should ask young people to make.  That’s not a choice we should accept.

If you think about what built this country, this is a country that’s always been at the cutting edge of making a good education available to more people.  My grandfather, when he came back from World War II, he went — he had the chance to go to college on the GI Bill.  My mother got through school while raising two kids because she got some help.  (Applause.)

Michelle and I, we didn’t come from rich folks.  We did not come from privileged backgrounds.  So we’re only where we are today because scholarships and student loans gave us a shot at a good education.  And we know a little bit about paying back student loans, because we each graduated from college and law school with a mountain of debt.  And even with good jobs, I didn’t pay it off and she didn’t pay off her loans until I was almost a U.S. senator.  I was in my 40s.

So over the past four years, what we’ve done is to try to take some steps to make college more affordable.  First thing we did — we enacted historic reforms to the student loan system.  What was happening was student loans were going through banks; banks were making billions of dollars.  We said why don’t we just give the loans directly to the students, cut out the banks, then we can help more students.  (Applause.)

Then we set up a consumer watchdog that’s already helping families and students sort through all the financial options so they really understand them and they’re not ripped off by shady lenders.  And we’re providing more tools and resources for students and families trying to finance college.  And, by the way, high school seniors, you guys want to start figuring this stuff out — go to studentaid.gov.  That’s a website — studentaid.gov.  And it will give you a sense of what’s available out there.

We took action to cap loan repayments at 10 percent of monthly income for a lot of borrowers who are trying to pay their debt but do so in a responsible way.  (Applause.)

So, overall, we’ve made college more affordable for millions of students and families through tax credits and grants and student loans.  And just a few weeks ago, Democrats and Republicans worked together to keep student loan rates from doubling, and that saves a typical undergraduate more than $1,500 for this year’s loans.  (Applause.)

So, now, that’s all a good start.  But it’s not enough.  The system we have right now is unsustainable, because if it keeps on going up 250 percent a year, your incomes are only going up 16 percent — not 250 percent a year — over a decade — but your incomes are only going up 16 percent, it’s just at a certain point, it will break the bank.  There won’t be enough federal aid to make up for the difference.  And families, at a certain point, aren’t going to be able to send their kids to school.

And state legislatures, they can’t just keep cutting support for public college and universities.  Colleges can’t just keep raising tuition year after year, and pushing these state cutbacks on to students and families, and federal taxpayers are not going to be able to make up all the difference.

Our economy can’t afford the trillion dollars — $1 trillion in outstanding student loan debt.  Because when young people have that much debt, that means they can’t buy a home.  It means they can’t start the business that maybe they’ve got a great idea for. And we can’t price the middle class and everybody working to get into the middle class out of a college education.  (Applause.)    It will put our young generation of workers at a competitive disadvantage for years.

So if a higher education is still the best ticket to upward mobility in America — and it is — then we’ve got to make sure it’s within reach.  We’ve got to make sure that we are improving economic mobility, not making it worse.  Higher education should not be a luxury.  It is a necessity, an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford.  (Applause.)

So what are we going to do about it?  Today what I’ve done is propose major new reforms that will shake up the current system.  We want to create better incentives for colleges to do more with less and to deliver better value for our students and their families.

And some of these reforms will require action from Congress, which is always difficult.  (Laughter.)  Some of these changes, though, I can make on my own.  (Applause.)  And we want to work with colleges to keep costs down.  States are going to need to make higher education a higher priority in their budgets.  And by the way, we’re going to ask more from students as well if they’re receiving federal aid.

And some of these reforms won’t be popular for every — with everybody, because some folks are making out just fine under the status quo.   But my concern is not to look out just for the institutions; I want to look out for the students who these institutions exist to serve.  (Applause.)  And I think — I’ve got confidence that our country’s colleges and universities will step up to the plate if they’re given the right incentives.  They, too, should want to do the right thing for students.

So let me be specific.  Here are three things we’re going to do.  Number one, I’m directing my administration to come up with a new ratings system for colleges that will score colleges on opportunity -– whether they’re helping students from all kinds of backgrounds succeed; and on outcomes — whether students are graduating with manageable debt; whether they’re actually graduating in the first place; whether they have strong career potential when they graduate.  That’s the kind of information that will help students and parents figure out how much value a particular college truly offers.

Right now all these ranking systems, they rank you higher if you charge more and you let in fewer students.  But you should have a better sense of who’s actually graduating students and giving you a good deal.  (Applause.)

So down the road we’re going to use these ratings, we hope by working with Congress, to change how we allocate federal aid for colleges.  And we’re going to deliver on a promise that I made last year — colleges that keep their tuition down are the ones that will see their taxpayer funding go up.  We’ve got to stop subsidizing schools that are not getting good results, start rewarding schools that deliver for the students and deliver for America’s future.  That’s our goal.  (Applause.)

Our second goal:  We want to encourage more colleges to embrace innovation, to try new ways of providing a great education without breaking the bank.  A growing number of colleges across the country are testing some new approaches, so they’re finding new ways, for example, to use online education to save time and money.

Some are trying what you’re doing right here in Syracuse -– creating partnerships between high schools and colleges, so students can get an early jump on their degree.  They can graduate faster.  That means they’re paying less in tuition.  I want to see more schools and states get in the game, so more students can get an education that costs less but still maintains high quality.  And we know it can be done.  It’s just we got to get everybody doing it, not just a few schools or a few cities around the country.  That’s the second goal.  (Applause.)

Somebody screamed, and I thought somebody fell, but they were just excited.  (Laughter.)

Number three:  We’re going to make sure that if you’ve taken on debt to earn your degree that you can manage and afford it.  Nobody wants to take on debt, but even if we do a good job controlling tuition costs, some young people are still going to have to take out some loans.  But we think of that as a good investment because it pays off in time -– as long as it stays manageable, as long as you can pay it back.

And remember, again, Michelle and I, we went through this.  It took us a long time to pay off our student loans.  But we could always manage it.  It didn’t get out of hand.  And I don’t want debt to keep young people — some of who are here today — from going into professions like teaching, for example, that may not pay as much money, but are of huge value to the country.  (Applause.)

And I sure don’t want young people not being able to buy a home, or get married, or start a business because they’re so loaded down with debt.  So what we’ve done is two years ago, I capped loan repayments at 10 percent of a student’s income after college.  We called it “pay as you earn.”  And so far this, along with a few other programs, has helped more than 2.5 million students.

But right now, a lot of current and former students aren’t eligible, so we want to work with Congress to fix that so that we got a lot more people who are eligible for this program.  And then the problem is a lot of young people don’t know this program exists.  So we’re going to do a better job advertising this program so that you will never have to pay more than 10 percent of your yearly income in servicing your debt.

And if you’re involved in public service or non-for-profits, then at some point that debt gets forgiven because you’re giving back to society in other ways.  (Applause.)  So we’re going to launch a campaign to help borrowers learn more about their options.  We want every student to have the chance to pay back their loans in a way that doesn’t stop them from pursuing their dreams.

So if we move forward on these three points — increasing value, making sure that young people and their parents know what they’re getting when they go to college; encouraging innovation so that more colleges are giving better value; and then helping people responsibly manage their debt — then we’re going to help more students afford college.  We’re going to help more students graduate from college.  We’ll help more students get rid of their debt so they can get started on their lives.  (Applause.)

And it’s going to take some hard work.  But the people of Syracuse know something about hard work.  (Applause.)  The American people know something about hard work.  (Applause.)

And we’ve come a long way together over these past four years.  I intend to keep us moving forward on this and every other issue.  We’re going to keep pushing to build a better bargain for the middle class and everybody who’s fighting to join the middle class.  And we’re going to keep fighting to make sure that this country remains a country where hard work and studying and responsibility are rewarded.  We’re going to make sure that no matter who you are, or where you come from, or who you love, or what your last name is — (applause) — in the United States you can make it if you try.  (Applause.)

Thank you, Syracuse!  God bless you, and God bless America.

END
6:50 P.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidency August 22, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech on College Affordability, College Cost Cutting Plan, Buffalo, NY

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President on College Affordability — Buffalo, NY

Source: WH, 8-22-13

 

State University of New York Buffalo
Buffalo, New York

11:23 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Buffalo!  (Applause.)  Hello, Bulls! (Applause.)  Well, it is good to be back in Buffalo, good to be back in the north.  (Applause.)

I want to begin by making sure we all thank Silvana for the wonderful introduction.  Give her a big round of applause.  (Applause.)  Her mom and dad are here somewhere.  Where are they? I know they’re pretty proud.  There they are right there.  Give mom and dad a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

A number of other people I want to acknowledge here — first of all, our Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, who’s doing a great job.  (Applause.)  One of the finest governors in the country, your Governor, Andrew Cuomo, is here.  (Applause.)  Your outstanding Mayor, Brian Higgins, is here.  Give him a big round of applause.

AUDIENCE:  Congressman!

THE PRESIDENT:  What?

AUDIENCE:  The Mayor is Byron Brown!

THE PRESIDENT:  Byron Brown.  That’s — I’m sorry, Byron.  (Applause.)  What I meant was — your Congressman, Brian Higgins, is here.  (Applause.)  Your Mayor, Byron Brown, is here.  (Applause.)  This is what happens when you get to be 52 years old.  (Laughter.)  When I was 51 everything was smooth.  (Laughter.)  But your Congressman and your Mayor are doing outstanding work.  We just rode on the bus over from the airport, and they were telling me that Buffalo is on the move.  That was the story.  (Applause.)

A couple other people I want to acknowledge — SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher, is here, doing a great job.  (Applause.)  University president Satish Tripathi is here.  (Applause.)   And we’ve got all the students in the house.  Thank all the students for being here.  (Applause.)

Now, today is a check-in day at the dorms.  So I want to thank all the students for taking a few minutes from setting up your futons and — (laughter) — your mini-fridges just to come out here.  I hear that the last sitting President to speak here was Millard Fillmore.  (Applause.)  And he was actually chancellor of the university at the same time — which sounds fun, but I’ve got enough on my plate.  (Laughter.)

This is our first stop on a two-day road trip through New York and Pennsylvania.  (Applause.)  And after this I head to Syracuse — (applause) — yay, Syracuse — to speak with some high schoolers.  Tomorrow I’m going to visit SUNY Binghamton and Lackawanna College in Scranton.  But I wanted to start here at University at Buffalo.  (Applause.)

And I wanted to do it for a couple reasons.  First, I know you’re focused on the future.  As I said, talking to the Mayor, he was describing a new medical school — (applause) — and new opportunities for the high-tech jobs of tomorrow.  So there’s great work being done at this institution.  I also know that everybody here must be fearless because the football team kicks off against Number 2, Ohio State, next weekend.  (Applause.)  Good luck, guys.  (Laughter.)  It’s going to be a great experience.  (Laughter.)  It’s going to be a great experience.  It could be an upset.  (Applause.)

And third, and most importantly, I know that the young people here are committed to earning your degree, to helping this university to make sure that every one of you “Finishes in Four” — (applause) — makes sure that you’re prepared for whatever comes next.  And that’s what I want to talk about here today.

Over the last month, I’ve been visiting towns across the country, talking about — yes, feel free to sit down.  Get comfortable.  (Laughter.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love you!

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  I love you, too.  (Applause.)

Over the last month I’ve been out there talking about what we need to do as a country to make sure that we’ve got a better bargain for the middle class and everybody who’s working hard to get into the middle class -– a national strategy to make sure that everybody who works hard has a chance to succeed in this 21st century economy.  (Applause.)

Now, I think all of us here know that for the past four and a half years, we’ve been fighting back from a brutal recession that cost millions of Americans their jobs and their homes and their savings.  But what the recession also did was it showed that for too long we’ve seen an erosion of middle-class security.
So, together, we saved the auto industry.  Together, we took on a broken health care system.  (Applause.)  We invested in new technologies.  We started reversing our addiction to foreign oil. We changed a tax code that was tilted to far in favor of the wealthy at the expense of working families.  (Applause.)

And add it all up, today our businesses have created 7.3 million new jobs over the last 41 months.  (Applause.)  We now generate more renewable energy than ever before.  We sell more goods made in America to the rest of the world than ever.  (Applause.)  Health care costs are growing at the slowest rate in 50 years.  Our deficits are falling at the fastest rate in 60 years.  (Applause.)

Here in Buffalo, the Governor and the Mayor were describing over a billion dollars in investment, riverfront being changed, construction booming — signs of progress.  (Applause.)

So thanks to the grit and the resilience of the American people, we’ve cleared away the rubble from the financial crisis. We’ve started to lay the foundation for a stronger, more durable economic growth.

But as any middle-class family will tell you, as folks here in Buffalo will tell you, we’re not where we need to be yet.  Because even before the crisis hit — and it sounds like Buffalo knows something about this — we were living through a decade where a few at the top were doing better and better, most families were working harder and harder just to get by.  Manufacturing was leaving, jobs moving overseas, losing our competitive edge.  And it’s a struggle for a lot of folks.

So reversing this trend should be, must be, Washington’s highest priority.  It’s my highest priority.  (Applause.)  I’ve got to say it’s not always Washington’s highest priority.  Because rather than keeping focus on a growing economy that creates good middle-class jobs, we’ve seen a faction of Republicans in Congress suggest that maybe America shouldn’t pay its bills that have already been run up, that we shut down government if they can’t shut down Obamacare.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  That won’t grow our economy.  That won’t create jobs.  That won’t help our middle class.  We can’t afford in Washington the usual circus of distractions and political posturing.  We can’t afford that right now.

What we need is to build on the cornerstones of what it means to be middle class in America, focus on that — a good job with good wages, a good education, a home of your own, affordable health care, a secure retirement.  (Applause.)  Bread-and-butter, pocketbook issues that you care about every single day; that you’re thinking about every single day.  And we’ve got to create more pathways into the middle class for folks who are willing to work for it.  That’s what’s always made America great.  It’s not just how many billionaires we produce, but our ability to give everybody who works hard the chance to pursue their own measure of happiness.  That’s what America is all about.  (Applause.)

Now, there aren’t many things that are more important to that idea of economic mobility -– the idea that you can make it if you try –- than a good education.  All the students here know that.  That’s why you’re here.  (Applause.)  That’s why your families have made big sacrifices -– because we understand that in the face of greater and greater global competition, in a knowledge-based economy, a great education is more important than ever.

A higher education is the single best investment you can make in your future.  And I’m proud of all the students who are making that investment.  (Applause.)  And that’s not just me saying it.  Look, right now, the unemployment rate for Americans with at least a college degree is about one-third lower than the national average.  The incomes of folks who have at least a college degree are more than twice those of Americans without a high school diploma.  So more than ever before, some form of higher education is the surest path into the middle class.

But what I want to talk about today is what’s become a barrier and a burden for too many American families -– and that is the soaring cost of higher education.  (Applause.)

This is something that everybody knows you need — a college education.  On the other hand, college has never been more expensive.  Over the past three decades, the average tuition at a public four-year college has gone up by more than 250 percent — 250 percent.  Now, a typical family’s income has only gone up 16 percent.  So think about that — tuition has gone up 250 percent; income gone up 16 percent.  That’s a big gap.

Now, it’s true that a lot of universities have tried to provide financial aid and work-study programs.  And so not every student — in fact, most students are probably not paying the sticker price of tuition.  We understand that.  But what we also understand is that if it’s going up 250 [percent] and your incomes are only going up 16 [percent], at some point, families are having to make up some of the difference, or students are having to make up some of the difference with debt.

And meanwhile, over the past few years, states have been cutting back on their higher education budgets.  New York has done better than a lot of states, but the fact is that we’ve been spending more money on prisons, less money on college.  (Applause.)  And meanwhile, not enough colleges have been working to figure out how do we control costs, how do we cut back on costs.  So all this sticks it to students, sticks it to families, but also, taxpayers end up paying a bigger price.

The average student who borrows for college now graduates owing more than $26,000.  Some owe a lot more than that.  And I’ve heard from a lot of these young people who are frustrated that they’ve done everything they’re supposed to do –- got good grades in high school, applied to college, did well in school — but now they come out, they’ve got this crushing debt that’s crippling their sense of self-reliance and their dreams.  It becomes hard to start a family and buy a home if you’re servicing $1,000 worth of debt every month.  It becomes harder to start a business if you are servicing $1,000 worth of debt every month, right?  (Applause.)

And meanwhile, parents, you’re having to make sacrifices, which means you may be dipping into savings that should be going to your retirement to pay for your son or daughter’s — or to help pay for your son or daughter’s education.

So at a time when a higher education has never been more important or more expensive, too many students are facing a choice that they should never have to make:  Either they say no to college and pay the price for not getting a degree — and that’s a price that lasts a lifetime — or you do what it takes to go to college, but then you run the risk that you won’t be able to pay it off because you’ve got so much debt.

Now, that’s a choice we shouldn’t accept.  And, by the way, that’s a choice that previous generations didn’t have to accept. This is a country that early on made a commitment to put a good education within the reach of all who are willing to work for it. And we were ahead of the curve compared to other countries when it came to helping young people go to school.  (Applause.)

The folks in Buffalo understand this.  Mayor Brown was talking about the city of Buffalo and the great work that is being done through the program called “Say Yes,” to make sure that no child in Buffalo has to miss out on a college education because they can’t pay for it.  (Applause.)

But even though there’s a great program in this city, in a lot of places that program doesn’t exist.  But a generation ago, two generations ago, we made a bigger commitment.  This is the country that gave my grandfather the chance to go to college on the GI Bill after he came back from World War II.  (Applause.)  This is the country that helped my mother get through school while raising two kids.  (Applause.)  Michelle and I, we’re only where we are today because scholarships and student loans gave us a shot at a great education.  (Applause.)

And we know a little bit about trying to pay back student loans, too, because we didn’t come from a wealthy family.  So we each graduated from college and law school with a mountain of debt.  And even though we got good jobs, we barely finished paying it off just before I was elected to the U.S. Senate.

AUDIENCE:  Whew!

THE PRESIDENT:  Right?  I mean, I was in my 40s when we finished paying off our debt.  And we should have been saving for Malia and Sasha by that time.  But we were still paying off what we had gotten — and we were luckier because most of the debt was from law school.  Our undergraduate debt was not as great because tuition had not started shooting up as high.

So the bottom line is this — we’ve got a crisis in terms of college affordability and student debt.  And over the past four years, what we’ve tried to do is to take some steps to make college more affordable.  So we enacted historic reforms to the student loan system, so taxpayer dollars stop padding the pockets of big banks and instead help more kids afford college.  (Applause.)

Because what was happening was the old system, the student loan programs were going through banks; they didn’t have any risk because the federal government guaranteed the loans, but they were still taking billions of dollars out of the program.  We said, well, let’s just give the loans directly to the students and we can put more money to helping students.

Then we set up a consumer watchdog.  And that consumer watchdog is already helping students and families navigate the financial options that are out there to pay for college without getting ripped off by shady lenders.  (Applause.)  And we’re providing more tools and resources for students and families to try to finance college.  And if any of you are still trying to figure out how to finance college, check it out at StudentAid.gov.  StudentAid.gov.

Then, we took action to cap loan repayments at 10 percent of monthly income for many borrowers who are trying to responsibly manage their federal student loan debt.  (Applause.)  So overall, we’ve made college more affordable for millions of students and families through tax credits and grants and student loans that go farther than they did before.  And then, just a few weeks ago, Democrats and Republicans worked together to keep student loan rates from doubling.  (Applause.)  And that saves typical undergraduates more than $1,500 for this year’s loans.

So that’s all a good start, but it’s not enough.  The problem is, is that even if the federal government keeps on putting more and more money in the system, if the cost is going up by 250 percent, tax revenues aren’t going up 250 percent — and so some point, the government will run out of money, which means more and more costs are being loaded on to students and their families.

The system’s current trajectory is not sustainable.  And what that means is state legislatures are going to have to step up.  They can’t just keep cutting support for public colleges and universities.  (Applause.)  That’s just the truth.  Colleges are not going to be able to just keep on increasing tuition year after year, and then passing it on to students and families and taxpayers.  (Applause.)   Our economy can’t afford the trillion dollars in outstanding student loan debt, much of which may not get repaid because students don’t have the capacity to pay it.  We can’t price the middle class and everybody working to get into the middle class out of a college education.  We’re going to have to do things differently.  We can’t go about business as usual.

Because if we do, that will put our younger generation, our workers, our country at a competitive disadvantage for years.  Higher education is still the best ticket to upward mobility in America, and if we don’t do something about keeping it within reach, it will create problems for economic mobility for generations to come.  And that’s not acceptable.  (Applause.)

So whether we’re talking about a two-year program, a four-year program, a technical certificate, bottom line is higher education cannot be a luxury.  It’s an economic imperative:  Every family in America should be able to afford to get it.  (Applause.)

So that’s the problem.  Now, what are we going to do about it?  Today, I’m proposing major new reforms that will shake up the current system, create better incentives for colleges to do more with less, and deliver better value for students and their families.  (Applause.)

And some of these reforms will require action from Congress, so we’re going to have to work on that.  (Laughter.)  Some of these changes I can make on my own.  (Applause.)  We are going to have to — we’re going to be partnering with colleges to do more to keep costs down, and we’re going to work with states to make higher education a higher priority in their budgets.  (Applause.)

And one last thing — we’re going to have to ask more of students who are receiving federal aid, as well.  And I’ve got to tell you ahead of time, these reforms won’t be popular with everybody, especially those who are making out just fine under the current system.  But my main concern is not with those institutions; my main concern is the students those institutions are there to serve -– because this country is only going to be as strong as our next generation.  (Applause.)

And I have confidence that our country’s colleges and universities will step up — just like Chancellor Zimpher and the folks at SUNY are trying to step up — and lead the way to do the right thing for students.

So let me be specific.  My plan comes down to three main goals.  First, we’re going to start rating colleges not just by which college is the most selective, not just by which college is the most expensive, not just by which college has the nicest facilities — you can get all of that on the existing rating systems.  What we want to do is rate them on who’s offering the best value so students and taxpayers get a bigger bang for their buck.  (Applause.)

Number two, we’re going to jumpstart new competition between colleges –- not just on the field or on the court, but in terms of innovation that encourages affordability, and encourages student success, and doesn’t sacrifice educational quality.  (Applause.)  That’s going to be the second component of it.

And the third is, we’re going to make sure that if you have to take on debt to earn your college degree that you have ways to manage and afford it.  (Applause.)

So let me just talk about each of these briefly.

Our first priority is aimed at providing better value for students — making sure that families and taxpayers are getting what we pay for.  Today, I’m directing Arne Duncan, our Secretary of Education, to lead an effort to develop a new rating system for America’s colleges before the 2015 college year.  Right now, private rankings like U.S. News and World Report puts out each year their rankings, and it encourages a lot of colleges to focus on ways to — how do we game the numbers, and it actually rewards them, in some cases, for raising costs.  I think we should rate colleges based on opportunity.  Are they helping students from all kinds of backgrounds succeed — (applause) — and on outcomes, on their value to students and parents.

So that means metrics like:  How much debt does the average student leave with?  How easy it is to pay off?  How many students graduate on time?  How well do those graduates do in the workforce?  Because the answers will help parents and students figure out how much value a college truly offers.

There are schools out there who are terrific values.  But there are also schools out there that have higher default rates than graduation rates.  And taxpayers shouldn’t be subsidizing students to go to schools where the kids aren’t graduating.  That doesn’t do anybody any good.  (Applause.)

And our ratings will also measure how successful colleges are at enrolling and graduating students who are on Pell grants. And it will be my firm principle that our ratings have to be carefully designed to increase, not decrease, the opportunities for higher education for students who face economic or other disadvantages.  (Applause.)

So this is going to take a little time, but we think this can empower students and families to make good choices.  And it will give any college the chance to show that it’s making serious and consistent improvement.  So a college may not be where it needs to be right now on value, but they’ll have time to try to get better.

And we want all the stakeholders in higher education — students, parents, businesses, college administrators, professors — to work with Secretary Duncan on this process.  And over the next few months, he’s going to host a series of public forums around the country to make sure we get these measures right.  And then, over the next few years, we’re going to work with Congress to use those ratings to change how we allocate federal aid for colleges.  (Applause.)

We are going to deliver on a promise we made last year, which is colleges that keep their tuition down and are providing high-quality education are the ones that are going to see their taxpayer funding go up.  It is time to stop subsidizing schools that are not producing good results, and reward schools that deliver for American students and our future.  (Applause.)

And we’re also going to encourage states to follow the same principle.  Right now, most states fund colleges based on how many students they enroll, not based on how well those students do or even if they graduate.  Now, some states are trying a better approach.  You got Tennessee, Indiana, Ohio — they’re offering more funding to colleges that do a better job of preparing students for graduation and a job.  Michigan is rewarding schools that keep tuition increases low.  So they’re changing the incentive structure.

And I’m challenging all states to come up with new and innovative ways to fund their colleges in a way that drives better results.  (Applause.)

Now, for the young people here, I just want to say that just as we’re expecting more from our schools that get funding from taxpayers, we’re going to have to expect more from students who get subsidies and grants from taxpayers.  (Applause.)  So we’re going to make sure students who receive federal financial aid complete their courses before receiving grants for the next semester.  (Applause.)

We’ll make sure to build in flexibility so we’re not penalizing disadvantaged students, or students who are holding down jobs to pay for school.  Things happen.  But the bottom line is we need to make sure that if you’re getting financial aid you’re doing your part to make progress towards a degree.  And, by the way, that’s good for you, too, because if you take out debt and you don’t get that degree, you are not going to be able to pay off that debt and you’ll be in a bind.  (Applause.)

All right, second goal:  We want to encourage more —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love you, Obama!

THE PRESIDENT:  (Laughter.)  Thank you.

The second thing we want to do is to encourage more colleges to embrace innovative new ways to prepare our students for a 21st century economy and maintain a high level of quality without breaking the bank.

So let me talk about some alternatives that are already out there.  Southern New Hampshire University gives course credit based on how well students master the material, not just on how many hours they spend in the classroom.  So the idea would be if you’re learning the material faster, you can finish faster, which means you pay less and you save money.  (Applause.)  The University of Wisconsin is getting ready to do the same thing.

You’ve got Central Missouri University — I went there, and they’ve partnered with local high schools and community colleges so that their students can show up at college and graduate in half the time because they’re already starting to get college credits while they’re in high school or while they’re in a two-year college, so by the time they get to a four-year college they’re saving money.  (Applause.)

Universities like Carnegie Mellon, Arizona State, they’re starting to show that online learning can help students master the same material in less time and often at lower cost.  Georgia Tech, which is a national leader in computer science, just announced it will begin offering an online master’s degree in computer science at a fraction of the cost of a traditional class, but it’s just as rigorous and it’s producing engineers who are just as good.

So a lot of other schools are experimenting with these ideas to keep tuition down.  They’ve got other ways to help students graduate in less time, at less cost, while still maintaining high quality.  The point is it’s possible.  And it’s time for more colleges to step up with even better ways to do it.  And we’re going to provide additional assistance to states and universities that are coming up with good ideas.

Third thing, even as we work to bring down costs for current and future students, we’ve got to offer students who already have debt the chance to actually repay it.  (Applause.)  Nobody wants to take on debt — especially after what we’ve seen and families have gone through during this financial crisis.  But taking on debt in order to earn a college education has always been viewed as something that will pay off over time.  We’ve got to make sure, though, that it’s manageable.

As I said before, even with good jobs, it took Michelle and me a long time to pay off our student loans — while we should have been saving for Malia and Sasha’s college educations, we were still paying off our own.  So we know how important it is to make sure debt is manageable, so that it doesn’t keep you from taking a job that you really care about, or getting married, or buying that first home.

There are some folks who have been talking out there recently about whether the federal student loan program should make or cost the government money.  Here’s the bottom line — government shouldn’t see student loans as a way to make money; it should be a way to help students.  (Applause.)

So we need to ask ourselves:  How much does a federal student loan cost students?  How can we help students manage those costs better?  Our national mission is not to profit off student loans; our national mission must be to profit off having the best-educated workforce in the world.  That should be our focus.  (Applause.)

So, as I mentioned a little bit earlier, two years ago, I capped loan repayments at 10 percent of a student’s post-college income.  We called it Pay-As-You-Earn.  And it, along with some other income-driven repayment plans, have helped more than 2.5 million students so far.

But there are two obstacles that are preventing more students from taking advantage of it.  One is that too many current and former students aren’t eligible, which means we’ve got to get Congress to open up the program for more students.  (Applause.)  And we’re going to be pushing them to do that.

The other obstacle is that a lot of students don’t even know they’re eligible for the program.  So starting this year, we’re going to launch a campaign to help more borrowers learn about their repayment options and we’ll help more student borrowers enroll in Pay-As-You-Earn.  So if you went to college, you took out debt, you want to be a teacher, and starting salary for a teacher is, let’s say, $35,000, well, only 10 percent of that amount is what your loan repayment is.  Now, if you’re making more money, you should be paying more back.  But that way, everybody has a chance to go to college; everybody has a chance to pursue their dreams.

And that program is already in place.  We want more students to take advantage of it.  We’re really going to be advertising it heavily.

Now, if we move forward on these three fronts –- increasing value, encouraging innovation, helping people responsibly manage their debt –- I guarantee you we will help more students afford college.  We’ll help more students graduate from college.  We’ll help more students get rid of that debt so they can a good start in their careers.  (Applause.)

But it’s going to take a lot of hard work.  The good news is, from what I hear, folks in Buffalo know something about hard work.  (Applause.)  Folks in America know something about hard work.  And we’ve come a long way together these past four years. We’re going to keep moving forward on this issue and on every other issue that’s going to help make sure that we continue to have the strongest, most thriving middle class in the world.  We’re going to keep pushing to build a better bargain for everybody in this country who works hard, and everybody who’s trying to get into that middle class.  (Applause.)

And we’re going to keep fighting to make sure that this remains a country where, if you work hard and study hard and are responsible, you are rewarded, so that no matter what you look like and where you come from, what your last name is, here in America you can make it if you try.  (Applause.)

Thank you very much, everybody.  God bless you.  God bless America.  (Applause.)

END
11:54 A.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidency May 31, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech Urging Congress to Prevent Student Loan Interest Rates from Rising in the White House Rose Garden

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

If Congress Doesn’t Act, Rates for New Federal Student Loans Will Double

]Source: WH, 5-31-13

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on student loansPresident Barack Obama delivers remarks on student loans in the Rose Garden of the White House, May 31, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

This morning, when President Obama called on Congress to prevent federal student loan rates from doubling on July 1, he returned to a familiar theme.

A year ago, we were in the same place — just a few weeks out from seeing the average student with these loans racking up an additional $1,000 in debt.

So speaking from the Rose Garden, the President asked the students and young people in attendance to speak out in favor of action on college affordability, just as they did in 2012….READ MORE

Remarks by the President on College Affordability

Source: WH, 5-31-13

Rose Garden

10:26 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning, everybody.  Have a seat.  Have a seat.  Welcome to the White House.  I know it’s a little warm.  (Laughter.)

One of my favorite things about this job is that I get to spend some time with remarkable young people from all across the country.  It inspires me.  It makes me feel good.  Those of you who have had to put on suits and ties and show up at the White House first thing on a Friday morning may not feel the same way I do — (laughter) — but I appreciate all of you being here.  You cleaned up very well.

And these students and graduates are here to talk about something that matters to millions of young people and their families, and that’s the cost of a college education.  Because this isn’t just critical for their futures, but it’s also critical for America’s future.

Over the past four and a half years, we’ve been fighting our way back from a financial crisis and an incredibly punishing recession — the worst since the Great Depression — and it cost millions of Americans their jobs and their homes, the sense of security that they’d spent their lives building up.

The good news is, today, our businesses have created nearly 7 million new jobs over the past 38 months.  500,000 of those jobs are in manufacturing.  We’re producing more of our own energy, we’re consuming less energy, and we’re importing less from other countries.  The housing market is coming back.  The stock market has rebounded.  Our deficits are shrinking at the fastest pace in 50 years.  People’s retirement savings are growing again.  The rise of health care costs are slowing.  The American auto industry is back.

So we’re seeing progress, and the economy is starting to pick up steam.  The gears are starting to turn again, and we’re getting some traction.  But the thing is, the way we measure our progress as a country is not just where the stock market is; it’s not just to how well the folks at the top are doing; it’s not just about the aggregate economic numbers.  It’s about how much progress ordinary families are making.  Are we creating ladders of opportunity for everybody who’s willing to work hard?  Are we creating not only a growing economy, but also the engine that is critical to long-lasting, sustained economic growth — and that is a rising, thriving middle class.  That’s our focus.  That’s what we’ve got to be concerned about every single day.  That’s our North Star.

And that means there are three questions we have to ask ourselves as a nation.  Number one:  How do we make America a magnet for good jobs in this competitive 21st century economy?  Number two:  How do we make sure that our workers earn the skills and education they need to do those jobs?  And number three:  How do we make sure those jobs actually pay a decent wage or salary, so that people can save for retirement, send their kids to college?

Those are the questions we’ve got to be asking ourselves every single day.  So we’re here today to talk about that second question.  How do we make sure our workers earn the skills and education they need to do the jobs that companies are hiring for right now, and are going to keep hiring for in the future?  We know that the surest path to the middle class is some form of higher education — a four-year degree, a community college degree, an advanced degree.  You’re going to need more than just a high school education to succeed in this economy.

And the young people here today, they get that.  They’re working through college; maybe just graduated.  And earning their degree isn’t just the best investment that they can make for their future — it’s the best investment that they can make in America’s future.

But like a lot of young people all across the country, these students have had to take on more and more and more debt to pay for this investment.  Since most of today’s college students were born, tuition and fees at public universities have more than doubled.  And these days, the average student who takes out loans to pay for four years of college graduates owing more than $26,000.  How many people are on track here for $26,000?

And that doesn’t just hold back our young graduates.  It holds back our entire middle class, because Americans now owe more on our student loans than we do on our credit cards.  And those payments can last for years, even decades, which means that young people are putting off buying their first car, or their first house — the things that grow our economy and create new jobs.  And I’ve said this before, I know this firsthand — Michelle and I, we did not finish paying off our student loans until about nine years ago.  And our student loans cost more than our mortgage.  Right when we wanted to start saving for Sasha and Malia’s college education, we were still paying off our own college education.

And we were lucky.  We had more resources than many.  So we cannot price the middle class or folks who are willing to work hard to get into the middle class out of a college education.  We can’t keep saddling young people with more and more and more debt just as they’re starting out in life.

Now, the good news is over the past four years, my administration has done a lot to address this.  Working with members of Congress, we’ve expanded student aid.  We’ve reformed the student loan system.  We’ve saved tens of billions of taxpayer dollars that were just going to big banks, and made sure that the money went to helping more young people afford college.

We made it easier to pay back those loans by passing a law that says you’ll only have to pay 10 percent of your monthly income towards your student — federal student loans once you graduate.  This is important to emphasize, by the way, because a lot of your peers, a lot of young people don’t know this.  Under existing law that we passed, you never have to pay more than 10 percent of your income in paying back your federal student loans, which means if you want to be a teacher, you want to go into a profession that does not pay a lot of money but gives you a lot of satisfaction, you are still capable of doing that and supporting yourself.

We unveiled a new college scorecard that gives parents and students the clear, concise information that you need to shop around for a school with the best value for you.  And I’ve made it clear that those colleges that don’t do enough to keep college costs down should get less taxpayer support.

So we’re doing what we can, but here’s the thing:  If Congress doesn’t act by July 1st, federal student loan rates are set to double.  And that means that the average student with those loans will rack up an additional $1,000 in debt.  That’s like a $1,000 tax hike.  I assume most of you cannot afford that.  Anybody here can afford that?  No.

Now, if this sounds like déjà vu all over again, that’s because it is.  We went through this last summer.  Some of you were here.  It wasn’t as hot.  (Laughter.)  I don’t think we did this event outside.  (Laughter.)  But we went through this.  And eventually, Congress listened to all the parents and young people who said “don’t double my rate.”  And because folks made their voices heard, Congress acted to keep interest rates low.  But they only did it for a year and that year is almost up.

So the test here is simple.  We’ve got to make sure that federal student loan rates don’t double on July 1st.  Now, the House of Representatives has already passed a student loan bill, and I’m glad that they took action.  But unfortunately, their bill does not meet that test.  It fails to lock in low rates for students next year.  That’s not smart.  It eliminates safeguards for lower-income families.  That’s not fair.  It could actually cost a freshman starting school this fall more over the next four years than if we did nothing at all and let the interest rates double on July 1st.

So the House bill isn’t smart and it’s not fair.  I’m glad the House is paying attention to it, but they didn’t do it in the right way.  So I’m asking young people to get involved and make your voices heard once again.  Last year, you convinced 186 Republicans in the House and 24 Republicans in the Senate to work with Democrats to keep student loan rates low.  You made something bipartisan happen in this town that is — that’s a powerful thing.  You guys were able to get Democrats and Republicans to vote for something that was important.

So this year, if it looks like your representatives have changed their minds, you’re going to have to call them up again or email them again or Tweet them again and ask them what happened, what changed?  You’re still taking out these loans.  You’re still facing challenges.

Remind them that we’re a people who help one another earn an education, because it benefits all of us.  During the Civil War, Lincoln had the foresight to set up a system of land grant colleges.  At the end of World War II, we set up the GI Bill so that people like my grandfather could come back from a war and get an education.  All these things created the greatest middle class on Earth.

My mom, a single mom, was able to get the support that she needed through loans and grants — even while she was also working and raising two kids — to get her degrees.  I’m only here, Michelle is only right over there in the East Wing because we got great educations.  We didn’t come from privilege.  And we want to make sure that the next generation has those same opportunities, because that has been good for the country as a whole.

It’s up to us now to carry forward that tradition.  Higher education cannot be a luxury for a privileged few.  It is an economic necessity that every family should be able to afford, every young person with dreams and ambition should be able to access.  And now is not the time for us to turn back on young people.  Now is not the time to slash the investments that help us grow.  Now is the time to reaffirm our commitment to you and the generation that’s coming behind you, and that if we work together to generate more jobs and educate more kids and open up new opportunities for everybody who’s willing to work and willing to push through those doors of opportunity, America can’t be stopped.

So I’m putting my faith in you.  Let’s work together.  Let’s get this done by July 1st.  Thank you, everybody.  God bless you.  God bless America.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END
10:36 A.M. EDT

Legal Buzz October 10, 2012: Fisher v. University of Texas: Supreme Court Poses Tough Questions in Affirmative Action Case

LEGAL BUZZ

COURT AND LEGAL NEWS:

Supreme Court Poses Tough Questions in Affirmative Action Case

Source: ABC News Radio., 10-10-12

 At the Supreme Court Wednesday, the conservative justices had questions for a lawyer defending the University of Texas’ plan that takes race into consideration in the admissions process.
One of their main concerns goes to the heart of the case: at what point does the court stop deferring to a university’s judgment that the consideration of race is still necessary?“I understand my job under our precedents is to determine if your use of race is narrowly tailored to a compelling interest,” Chief Justice John Roberts said to Gregory Garre, a lawyer representing the University of Texas. “The compelling interest you identify is attaining a critical mass of minority students at the University of Texas, but you won’t tell what the critical mass is. How am I supposed to do the job that our precedents say I should do?”…READ MORE

Full Text Campaign Buzz August 21, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech at a Campaign Event in Truckee Meadows Community College Reno, Nevada — Shifts Aim to Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan Education Plan

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Remarks by the President at Campaign Event – Reno, NV

Source: WH, 8-21-12

Truckee Meadows Community College
Reno, Nevada

4:44 P.M. PDT

THE PRESIDENT: Hello, Reno! (Applause.) Hello, hello! It is good to be back in Nevada! (Applause.)

Well, listen, first of all, can everybody give Alejandra a huge round of applause? (Applause.) She did a great job. We’re very proud of her. She was outstanding.

I also want to acknowledge a dear friend, a great friend of working people not just here Nevada but all across the country, your Senator, Harry Reid, is in the house. (Applause.) Where is Harry? There he is.

It’s good to see all of you. (Applause.) And let me just point out, every time I come here the weather is really good. (Applause.) I mean, you guys have a pretty good deal here. It is beautiful. And as we were flying in, we flew over Tahoe — (applause) — I’d like to pretend that there is a big campaign event there — (laughter) — but I can’t really pretend that that’s the case.

But it is wonderful to be in the state. It is great to be at Truckee Meadows Community College. (Applause.) And I came here today to talk about what students are doing here every single day. Your education is the single most important investment you can make in your future. That’s true for Alejandra; it is true for every single student here. It’s true whether you are talking about a community college or whether you’re talking about a four-year college or university.

And I’m proud of all of you who are doing what it takes to make that investment — not just the money, but also the long hours in the library — at least I hope you’re spending some long hours in the library — (laughter) — and in the lab, and in the classroom. Because it’s never been more important.

But the degree students earn from this college is the surest path you will have to a good job and to higher earnings. (Applause.) It’s the best tool that you’ve got to achieve that basic American promise, that simple idea that if you work hard in this country, you will be rewarded. The basic bargain that says if you work hard, if you’re willing to put in the effort, then you can do well enough to raise a family, you can own your home, you can put a little away for retirement, you won’t have to worry about being bankrupt if you get sick; maybe you can take a vacation once in a while. And most importantly, you know that you’ll be able to pass on to your kids more opportunity and the possibility that they can do things that you couldn’t even dream of. (Applause.)

That’s what America is all about — making sure those doors of opportunity are open to everybody. That’s the reason I ran for President. That’s what my presidency has been about. That’s why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States. (Applause.)

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT: Now, here is the thing, though — your education is not just important to you, it’s important to America’s success. When we invest in your future, we’re investing in America’s future. The fact is that countries that out-educate us today, they’ll out-compete us tomorrow. We cannot afford to lose that race to make sure we’ve got the most highly educated, most-skilled workforce in the world. (Applause.) And when companies and businesses are looking to locate, that’s what they’re looking for. And I don’t want them looking any farther than Reno, Nevada; the state of Nevada; the United States of America. (Applause.) We’ve got the best workers in the world, and I want to keep it that way. (Applause.)

And your education is just getting more important. I’m not telling you anything you don’t know. More than half of the new jobs over the next decade will require some form of higher education. And I don’t think it’s also any news to you that higher education is getting harder and harder to afford. It is tough for a lot of folks.

Over the past couple of decades, over the last 20 years, tuition and fees at America’s colleges and universities have more than doubled. The average student who borrows to pay for college now graduates with about $26,000 in student loan debt. And living with that kind of debt means you’ve got to make tough choices, especially when you’re first starting out. It may mean putting off starting a family or buying a home. It may mean you don’t have enough savings to try to start that new business idea that you’ve got.

When a big chunk of each paycheck goes just towards servicing your loan debt, that’s not just tough for middle-class families that are trying to make it, it’s also not good for the economy, because it means you’re not spending that money with local businesses.

And I want you to understand I speak from experience here. (Applause.) Michelle and I know about this firsthand. We didn’t come from wealthy families. My mom was a single mom. Michelle’s dad was a blue-collar worker. Her mom was a secretary. Michelle’s parents never went to college. Both of us graduated from college and law school with a mountain of debt. So when we got married, we pooled our liabilities, not our assets. (Laughter.) We got poorer together, not richer. In fact, we paid more for our student loans than we paid on our mortgage each month when we finally were able to afford to buy a condo. And then, once we had Malia and Sasha, now we’re supposed to be saving for their college education, but we’re still paying off for our college educations.

And, look, we were luckier than most. We had landed good jobs with steady incomes. Even with that, though, we only but finished paying off our student loans about eight years ago. Now, think about that — I became President three and a half years ago. (Applause.) I was a U.S. senator about seven years ago. So I had been working and Michelle had been working for over a decade before we got all our loans paid off.

But here’s the thing. I’m only standing here before you today because of the chance that that education gave me. So I think I can speak with some experience and say, making higher education more affordable for our young people is something I’ve got a personal stake in. It’s not something I believe in abstractly. It’s something Michelle has a personal stake in. We believe in it because we’ve been in your shoes. We know what it’s like. (Applause.) We understand that unless you provide those rungs on the ladder of opportunity, then young people — many of whom are more talented than Michelle and I — may not get a shot.

And that’s why I’ve made this one of the top priorities of my presidency. It’s part of what’s at stake in this election. When all of you walk in to that voting booth in November, you’re going to have a choice. And part of it is the choice of how we treat education in this country. And I say this because putting a college education within reach for working families does not seem to be a priority that my opponent shares.

Look, a few months ago, Governor Romney told a crowd of young people, just like you, that if you want to be successful, if you want to go to college or you want to start a business, then you can just — and I’m quoting here — “borrow money if you have to from your parents.”

AUDIENCE: Booo —

THE PRESIDENT: Harry, did your parents have a whole bunch of money to lend you?

AUDIENCE: No!

THE PRESIDENT: My parents didn’t have a lot of money to lend me. I bet a bunch of your parents don’t have a lot of money to lend. It’s not because they don’t want to — they don’t have it.

When a high school student asked Governor Romney what he would do to make college more affordable for families, Governor Romney didn’t say anything about grants or loan programs that have helped millions of students earn a college education. He didn’t say anything about work-study programs, or rising college tuition. He did not say a single word about community colleges, or how important higher education is to America’s economic future. Here’s what he said: “The best thing I can do for you is to tell you to shop around.” (Laughter.) To shop around.

So this is his plan. That’s his answer to a young person hoping to go to college — shop around and borrow money from your parents if you have to.

AUDIENCE: Booo —

THE PRESIDENT: Now, that’s not an answer. That’s not even — not only is not a good answer, it’s not even an answer. There is nothing a parent wants to do more than to give their kids opportunities that we never had. (Applause.) There are very few things more painful than a parent not being able to do it.

But we’re still fighting back from the worst economic crisis in our lifetimes. There are a lot of parents out there who are working really hard but still struggling to make ends meet. And I do not accept the notion that we should deny their children the opportunity of a higher education and a brighter future just because their families were hard hit by a recession. (Applause.)

Think about all the discoveries, all the businesses, all the breakthroughs that we wouldn’t have had if we had told every American that wanted to go to college, “tough luck, too bad, you’re on your own.”

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Shop around!

THE PRESIDENT: Shop around. This country has always made a commitment to put a good education within the reach of all who are willing to work for it. That’s part of what made us an economic superpower. (Applause.) That’s what kept us at the forefront of business and science, and technology and medicine.

And this is not just a new commitment we’ve made. My grandfather had the chance to go to college because after fighting on behalf of America in World War II, he came back to a country that decided, you know what, we’re going to make sure every veteran should be able to afford college. (Applause.)

My mother was able to raise me and my sister by herself and go to college because she was able to get grants and work her way through school. Michelle and I would not be here without the help of scholarships and student loans. (Applause.) We are only here because the chance our education gave us, and I want every young person to have that chance.

And listen, government can’t help folks who won’t help themselves. Parents have to parent, and young people have to stay disciplined and focused. But if you’re willing to work hard, a college education in the 21st century should be available to everybody, not just the wealthy few. (Applause.) That’s what I believe. Whether it’s a 4-year education, a 2-year program, higher education is not a luxury, it is a necessity. (Applause.) And every American family should be able to afford it.

That’s what’s at stake in this election, Nevada. It’s one of the reasons I’m running for President.

And listen, I want you to understand — I’m not just talking the talk. I’m not just making promises. Since I took office, we’ve helped over 3 million more students afford a college education with grants that go farther than they did before. (Applause.) Now, unfortunately, the economic plan of Governor Romney could cut our investments in education by about 20 percent. So the grants that we’ve used that Alejandro may be taking advantage of, many of you may be taking advantage of — those grants could be cut so deeply that 1 million of the students who would have been helped would no longer get scholarships. It would cut financial aid for nearly 10 million students a year.

Now — and here’s the worst part. They’re not making these cuts to create reduce the deficit. They’re not making these cuts so they can create more jobs. They’re doing it to pay for a new $5 trillion tax cut weighted towards the wealthiest Americans.

AUDIENCE: Booo —

THE PRESIDENT: Does that sound like a plan for a better future for you?

AUDIENCE: No!

THE PRESIDENT: It’s a plan that says we can’t afford to help the next generation, but we can afford massive new tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. We can’t offer our young people student loans because we’ve got to protect corporate tax loopholes. It’s a vision that says we can’t help young people who are trying to make it because we’ve got to protect the folks who already have made it. That’s not a vision we have to accept.

Governor Romney likes to talk about his time as an investor as one of the bases for his candidacy, but his economic plan makes clear he doesn’t think your future is worth investing in. And I do. That’s what’s at stake in this election. That’s the choice this November. (Applause.)

We are going to make sure that America once again leads the world in educating our kids and training our workers. (Applause.) There are business owners across the country who say they can’t fill the skilled positions they have open, and you’ve got millions of people who are out there looking for work. So I want to give 2 million more Americans the chance to go to community colleges just like this one to learn the skills that local businesses are hiring for right now. (Applause.)

Community colleges like Truckee Meadows educate the backbone of our workforce. (Applause.) This is where young people and some not-so-young people can come and get trained as nurses and firefighters and computer programmers and folks who manufacture clean-energy components. And these are the vital pathways to the middle class, and we shouldn’t weaken them; we should strengthen them. (Applause.)

Earlier this summer, Harry Reid and I, we fought to make sure the interest rate on federal student loans didn’t go up. (Applause.) We won that fight. (Applause.) The Republican plan in Congress would have allowed those rates to double, costing more than 7 million students an extra thousand dollars a year. With the help of Harry Reid we set up a college tax credit so that more middle-class families can save up to $10,000 on their tuition over four years. (Applause.) Governor Romney wants to repeal it.

AUDIENCE: Booo —

THE PRESIDENT: In 2008, I promised we would reform a student loan system that was giving tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to big banks and lobbyists instead of giving it to students. So they were taking a cut out of the student loan program even though they had no risk, because the federal government was guaranteeing the loans — $60 billion worth. So we said, no, let’s cut them out; let’s give this money directly to students. (Applause.) We won that fight. That’s what we used to double the grants for students who are in need.

My opponent is running to return the system back to the way it was. He wants to go backwards to policies where banks were taking out billions of dollars out of the student loan program. He wants to go back to policies that got us into this mess in the first place. That is the choice in this election. I want to move forward; he wants to go backwards. We are not going to let him. That’s what’s at stake in this election. (Applause.)

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT: Four years ago, I promised we’d end the war in Iraq. (Applause.) And we promised we’d go after al Qaeda and bin Laden. (Applause.) We promised to blunt the momentum of the Taliban and then start turning over security responsibilities to the Afghans so we can start bringing our troops home. We are keeping these promises because of the tremendous sacrifice of our men and women in uniform. (Applause.)

So, today, all of our troops are out of Iraq, and we are winding down the war in Afghanistan. But we’ve got to make sure that we keep faith with those folks who fought for us. (Applause.) So we’ve made sure to keep the Post-9/11 GI Bill strong. Everybody who has served this country should have a chance to get their degree, and as long as I am Commander-in-Chief, this country will care for our veterans and serve them as well as they have served us. (Applause.) Nobody who fights for this country should have to fight for a job, or fight for a college education, or fight for a roof over their heads when they come home. (Applause.) That’s part of what’s at stake in this election.

Now, I have to tell you, over the course of the next two and a half months, the other side will not talk much about education because they don’t really have a plan. They won’t be talking about much, but they will spend more money than we’ve ever seen on ads that just try to repeat the same thing over and over again: The economy is not doing as well as it should, and it’s all Obama’s fault. (Laughter.) It’s like going to a concert and they just keep on playing the same song over and over again. (Laughter.) And the reason they’ve got to try to just repeat that over and over again is because they know their economic plan is not popular. They know that the American people are not going to buy another $5 trillion tax cut, most of which goes to wealthy Americans and that will be paid for by you.

AUDIENCE: Booo —

THE PRESIDENT: They know gutting education to pay for a massive new tax cut for millionaires and billionaires is not going to sell. So since they can’t advertise their plan, they’re going to bet on the fact that you get discouraged, that you get cynical, that you decide your vote doesn’t matter. They’re betting that each $10 million check from some wealthy donor drowns out millions of voices. They don’t see that as a problem; that’s their strategy.

I’m counting on something different. I’m counting on you. (Applause.) See, part of what you taught me in 2008 is that when the American people join together, they can’t be stopped. (Applause.) When we remember our parents and our grandparents and great-grandparents and all the sacrifices they made, and we’re reminded that this country has always risen and fallen together; when we remember that what makes us special is the idea that everybody gets a fair shot and everybody does their fair share and everybody is playing by the same set of rules — when that’s our focus, you can’t be stopped. (Applause.)

So here’s what I’m going to need from everybody: First of all, you’ve got no excuse not to register to vote. We’ve got staff and volunteers who are here. They will grab you at the door. You won’t be able to escape. This young lady right here, she’s ready to register some voters. (Applause.) And if somehow we miss you, or if you decide you want to help your friends and your neighbors and fellow students to get registered, you can do it online at GottaRegister.com. Now, I want — I know this is an educated place, but “gotta” is spelled g-o-t-t-a. (Laughter.) This is GottaRegister.com. So you’ve got to — you’ve “gotta” not just register; you gotta grab some friends. You gotta grab some neighbors. You gotta take them to the polls. You gotta vote. (Applause.)

Let’s prove the cynics wrong one more time. Let’s show them your vote counts. Let’s prove your voice is more powerful than lobbyists and special interests. Let’s keep the promise of this country alive — that no matter what you look like or where you come from, you can make it if you try. (Applause.) We’ve come too far to turn back now. We’ve got more students to educate, more teachers to hire, more troops to bring home, more schools to rebuild, more jobs to create, more homegrown energy to generate, more doors of opportunity to open for everybody who’s willing to work hard. (Applause.)

And if you’ll stand with me like you did in 2008, if you’re willing to do some work and knock on doors and make phone calls, we will win Washoe County. We will win Nevada. We will win this election. We’ll finish what we started, and remind the world why the United States of America is the greatest nation on Earth.

God bless you. God bless America.

END
5:10 P.M. PDT

Full Text Campaign Buzz August 21, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech at a Campaign Event at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio — Shifts Aim to Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan Education Plan

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

President Obama Shifts Aim to Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan Education Plan

Source: ABC News Radio, 8-21-12

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GettyImages

President Obama kicked off a two-day campaign swing through Ohio and Nevada Tuesday by shifting the focus of his attacks from Medicare and taxes to education, slamming the Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan plan to cut student aid.
“Whether it’s a four-year college [or] a two-year program, higher education is not a luxury, it is an economic necessity that every family in America should be able to afford. And that’s what’s at stake in this election,” the president told supporters.

Obama’s education pitch, which he is outlining in visits to two colleges and a high school in critical battleground states, is part of a broader effort to show how the Romney-Ryan budget cuts would negatively impact Americans….READ MORE

Remarks by the President at a Campaign Event — Columbus, OH

Source: WH, 8-21-12 

Capital University
Columbus, Ohio

1:00 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Ohio!  (Applause.)  Hello, Crusaders!  (Applause.)  Oh, it is good to be back in Columbus!  (Applause.)  The sun came out for us.  (Applause.)  It’s a good sign.

It is fun to be back in Ohio, and it is great to be here.  I just want to acknowledge a few people.  First of all, give Steven a big round of applause.  (Applause.)  He was explaining to me what it’s like being a BMX driver — rider.  And he said that — he said, well — I asked him, because I’d seen those guys in the Olympics, and I said, it seems like you guys fall a lot.  (Laughter.)  And he says, “No, no, I learned how to fall on my shoulder.”  I said, well, is that good?  He said, “Well, I broke my shoulder four times.”  (Laughter.)  But he looks okay to me.  He’s doing great.

A couple other people I want to acknowledge — your outstanding Mayor, Michael Coleman is in the house.  (Applause.) There he is.  And we’ve got congressional candidate — Joyce Beatty is here.  (Applause.)  And all of you are here.  (Applause.)

How many students do we have here?  (Applause.)  You guys are excited about school starting up?  (Applause.)  Everybody was saying yes except this one guy over here.  (Laughter.)  He was shaking his head.  Come on, man, it’s going to be great.  (Applause.)

Well, I am glad we’ve got some students here because I came to Columbus today to talk about what most of the students here are doing every day.  Your education is the single most important investment that you can make in your future.  And I’m proud of all the students who are here doing what it takes to make that investment — the long hours in the library — except for this guy.  (Laughter.)  Working in the lab, being in the classroom — even when your classes start a little earlier than you had planned — because your education has never been more important.

The degree that you earn from this university is the surest path that you will have to a good job and to higher earnings.  It’s the best tool you’ll have to achieve what is the core promise of this country — the idea that if you work hard, your work will be rewarded.  The basic bargain that says if you’re willing to put in the effort, you can do well enough to raise a family and have a home that you call your own, have some security, put a little away for retirement, and most importantly, make sure that your children, your grandchildren can do even better and dream even bigger than you did.  (Applause.)  That’s the hope that your parents had for you.  That’s the hope I have for Malia and Sasha.  That’s the hope that you’ll someday have for your own kids.

But here’s the thing.  This is about more than just your own success.  Now, more than ever, your success is America’s success, because when we invest in your future we’re investing in America’s future.  The fact is that countries that out-educate us today, they’ll be able to out-compete us tomorrow.  Businesses are mobile in the 21st century economy; they can locate anywhere. So they’re going to create jobs and they’re going to hire wherever they find the best educated, most highly skilled workers.  And I don’t want them to have to look any further than right here in Columbus, right here in Ohio, right here in the United States of America.  (Applause.)

And because the economy has changed, over the coming decade more than half of new jobs will require some form of higher education.  It may not be a four-year college degree, but you’re going to need to have gone to a community college or a technical school to get the skills you need to get hired — and this is not breaking news to any of you.  What’s also not breaking news is the fact that higher education has gotten a lot harder to afford; it’s gotten more expensive.  Over the past two years — excuse me, over the past two decades, tuition and fees at America’s colleges have more than doubled.

The average student who borrows to pay for college now graduates with about $26,000 worth of student loan debt.  (Laughter.)  What, that sounds low to you?  (Laughter.)

AUDIENCE:  Yes!

THE PRESIDENT:  I just said the average.  (Laughter.)  For a lot of young people it’s a lot higher, and that kind of debt means pretty tough choices when you’re first starting out.  It might mean putting off starting a family or buying a home, or putting off chasing that great idea that you’ve got for a small business.  When a big chunk of each paycheck goes towards paying off your loan debt, that’s not just tough for middle-class families that are trying to make it and young people who are trying to get started; it’s also painful for the entire economy because that means that money you might be spending on buying a new home or doing something else with it, it’s going to that check that you’re writing every single month.  It’s not going to the local business.

And I have to say, this is something Michelle and I know firsthand about.  I’m not speculating on this, because we’ve been in your shoes.  Neither of us came from wealthy families.  Both of us graduated from college and law school with a mountain of debt.  When we married, we got poor together.  (Laughter.)  We combined our liabilities into one big liability.  (Laughter.)  We paid more for our student loans than we paid on our mortgage each month, and that went on for years.  And then, once we had Malia and Sasha, we needed to start saving for their college educations but we were still paying off our college educations.

Now, keep in mind we were lucky enough to land good jobs, we had steady incomes, but we did not finish paying off our student loans until about eight years ago.  Think about that.  I’m not —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  You got an education.

THE PRESIDENT:  I got an education and it worked out pretty good.  (Laughter and applause.)  But the point I’m making is, I’m only standing before you because of the chance that my education gave me.  So I can tell you, with some experience, that making higher education more affordable for our young people — it’s something I’ve got a personal stake in; it’s something that Michelle has a personal stake in.  We believe in it because we’ve been there and we know that unless you provide those rungs on the ladder of opportunity, young people who are more talented than we are may not get a shot.  That’s why I’ve made it a top priority of my presidency.  And, Ohio, that is something that is at stake in this election.  That’s part of the reason why November is so important.  (Applause.)

And I say this because putting a college education within reach for working families just doesn’t seem to be a big priority for my opponent.  A few months ago, just up the road, in Westerville, Governor Romney said, if you want to be successful, if you want to go to college or start a business, you can just — and I’m quoting here — “borrow money if you have to from your parents.”

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  When a high school student in Youngstown asked him what he would do to make college more affordable for families like his, Governor Romney didn’t say anything about grants or loan programs that are critical to millions of students to get a college education.  He said nothing about work-study programs or rising college tuition.  He didn’t say a word about community colleges or how important higher education is to America’s future.  He said, the best thing you can do is shop around.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  The best thing I can do for you is to tell you to shop around.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  That’s it!

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s it.  That’s his plan.  That’s his answer to young people who are trying to figure out how to go to college and make sure that they don’t have a mountain of debt — shop around and borrow more money from your parents.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  What are we going to do?  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Now, I’ve just got to — I want to make sure everybody understands. Not everybody has parents who have the money to lend.  (Applause.)  That may be news to some folks, but it’s the truth.  (Laughter.)

So what Governor Romney is offering is not an answer.  There’s nothing a parent wants more than to give opportunities to their kids that they never had.  And it’s pretty painful for a lot of parents if they can’t do that.  But as we’re fighting back from the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes, you’ve got a lot of parents who are out there struggling just to make ends meet.  And I don’t accept the notion that we should deny any child the opportunity to get a higher education.  If they’ve been working hard, if they’ve got the grades, if they’ve got the determination to get a better future for themselves, I don’t want them to be prevented just because their families were hit hard by a recession.  (Applause.)

That’s not who we are.  That’s not what America is about.  We give everybody a fair shot.  Think about all the discoveries, all the businesses, all the breakthroughs that we would not have made if we told every young person who has got the drive and the will and the grades to go to college, “tough luck, too bad, you’re on your own.”  We’ve always made a commitment to put a good education within the reach of everybody who is willing to work for it.  That’s part of what makes us special.  That’s what keeps us at the forefront of business and science and technology and medicine.

And this dates back for decades.  Some of you know my grandfather fought in World War II.  When he came back, he had a chance to go to college because this country decided every returning veteran of World War II should be able to afford it.  (Applause.)  My mother was able to raise me and my sister because she was able to get grants and work her way through school.  Michelle and I would not be here today without the help of scholarships and student loans.  And I know Steve wouldn’t be here either and neither would a lot of you.  (Applause.)

So in a 21st century economy, a college education should be available for everybody — not just the wealthy few.  Whether it’s a four-year college, a two-year program, higher education is not a luxury, it is an economic necessity that every family in America should be able to afford.  And that’s what’s at stake in this election.  It’s one of the reasons I’m running for President of the United States for a second term.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  Four more years!  Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT:  And I want you to know that I have not just talked the talk; we have walked the walk.  (Applause.)  Since I took office, we have helped more than 3 million additional students afford a college education with grants that go farther than they did before.  The economic plan my opponent has would cut our investment in education by nearly 20 percent.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  It would cut those grants so deeply that 1 million of those students who we have helped would no longer get a scholarship at all.  It would cut financial aid for nearly 10 million students a year.

And keep in mind they’re not making these cuts to create jobs.  They’re not proposing these cuts to pay down the deficit. Governor Romney is proposing these cuts to pay for a new $5 trillion tax cut that’s weighted towards the wealthiest Americans.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  Does that sound like a better plan for America?  Does that sound like a better plan for you?

AUDIENCE:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  A plan that says that we can’t afford to help the next generation earn an education, but we can afford massive new tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires?  A plan that says we can’t afford our young people — to offer our young people student loans because we’ve got to protect corporate loopholes?  It’s a vision that says we can’t help young people who are trying to make it because we’ve got to protect the folks who already have made it.

Michelle and I are going to be able to send Malia and Sasha to college.  We don’t need an extra tax break.  You do.  (Applause.)  Their vision is wrong for moving America forward.  It’s not a vision you’ve got to accept.  That’s why November is important, and that’s why I’m running for a second term as President.  (Applause.)

Governor Romney makes his time as an investor in the private sector the basis of his candidacy.  That’s how he says he’s going to fix the economy – “I was in the private sector.”  And his economic plan makes one thing clear:  He does not think investing in your future is worth it.  He doesn’t think that’s a good investment.  I do.  That’s what’s at stake in this election.  That’s the choice in November.  That’s why we fought to make sure the interest rate on federal student loans didn’t go up over the summer.  We won that fight.  (Applause.)

Some of these Republican members of Congress would have allowed those rates to double, costing more than 7 million students an extra thousand dollars a year.  I’ve said I want to extend the college tax credit that my administration created so more families can save up to $10,000 on their tuition over four years.  (Applause.)  They want to end that tax credit.  That’s the choice in this election.

In 2008, I promised we would reform a student loan system that was giving tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to big banks and lobbyists instead of students.  There are plenty of folks in Washington who fought tooth and nail to keep that system as it was.  We kept at it, we won that fight, we used it to double grant aid for students.  (Applause.)

My opponent now wants to go back to the way things were.  He wants to go backwards to the policies that got us into this mess in the first place.  We’re moving forward.  That’s the choice in this election.  That’s why I’m running for a second term.  (Applause.)

And, by the way, part of our job is also to make sure you don’t need a Ph.D. to apply for financial aid in the first place. So we’ve put in place this new consumer protection watchdog, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, put in place — and it’s working with the Department of Education to develop a simple new factsheet on student loans and financial aid, so you can have all the information you need to make your own best choices about how to pay for college.  We call it “Know Before You Owe.”  Know before you owe.  (Applause.)  That’s a good idea.  But my opponent wants to get rid of this new consumer protection agency, and let for-profit colleges keep preying on veterans and working families.  That’s one of the choices in this election.

I’m want to make sure that America once again leads the world in educating our kids, training our workers.  I want to make sure more of our students are prepared for college by helping our secondary and elementary schools hire and reward the best teachers, especially in math and science.  (Applause.)  I want to give 2 million more Americans the chance to go to community college and learn the skills that local businesses are looking for right now.

I’ve put colleges and universities on notice — if they can’t stop tuition from going up, the funding they get from taxpayers will go down.  We want to give them some incentive to start lowering tuition.  (Applause.)  That’s the choice in this election.  That’s what we’re fighting for.  That’s what you’re going to be having to think about when you go to that voting booth in November.

Four years ago, I promised that we would end the war in Iraq.  (Applause.)  Thanks to the service and the sacrifice of our incredible men and women in uniform, that’s what we’ve done.  (Applause.)  Today, all our troops are out of Iraq.  We are beginning to bring our troops homes from Afghanistan.  But the key is making sure that they are getting the same good deal that my grandfather got when he came home from the war.  So we’ve made sure to keep the Post-9/11 GI Bill strong so that everybody who has served our country has the chance to earn a degree.

As long as I am Commander-in-Chief, I promise you we will care for our veterans and serve them as well as they’ve served us.  (Applause.)  If you fought for this country, you shouldn’t have to fight for a college education or for a job or for a roof over your heads when you come home.  (Applause.)  So that’s what we’re fighting for, Columbus.  That’s just one example, in the education arena, of what’s at stake.

Now, over the next two and a half months, the other side will spend more money than we have ever seen — ever.  I mean, they got folks writing $10 million checks, $20 million checks.  They should be contributing that to a scholarship fund to send kids to college.  (Applause.)  But instead, they are going to spend more money than we’ve ever seen on ads.  And the ads all say the same thing, which is, the economy is not where it needs to be and it’s all Obama’s fault.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  See, look — no, no, listen, they know their economic plan isn’t popular.  They know that gutting investments in education and science and infrastructure, and voucherizing Medicare, they know that doesn’t really sell well.  They know that it especially doesn’t sell well when you’re doing all those things not to reduce the deficit but to pay for massive new tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.  They know that’s not going to poll well.  So they’re betting on the fact that you get so discouraged that you decide your vote doesn’t matter.

They’re betting every single $10 million check from a wealthy donor drowns out millions of voices at the ballot box.  They’re counting on young people sitting this one out.  They say well, you know what — Obama, he’s grayer now, he’s not as new and as fresh as he was in 2008, so young people aren’t going to turn out the same way.  They’re counting on you sitting on the sidelines and letting others make the choice for you.  See, they don’t have a plan to create jobs or strengthen the middle class, but this is their plan to win the election.

But I’m counting on something different.  I’m counting on you.  (Applause.)  I’m counting on the fact that when the American people focus and push aside all the noise and all the nonsense, and they remember the fact that all of us, whatever success we’ve achieved, we’ve achieved because we worked together, because we made sure everybody has a fair shot, and everybody is doing their fair share, and everybody is playing by the same set of rules.  I’m counting on the fact that when the American people focus on what’s at stake, you can’t be stopped.  And all the money the other side is spending doesn’t matter.

So I’m going to need your help — young people especially — I’m going to need your help.  (Applause.)  I need to make sure you’re registered to vote at your current address.  We’ve got staff and volunteers who are here who can help you do that before you leave today.  And when you leave, I’m asking you to grab 10 friends — make sure they’re registered, too.  And if you need more information, you can go visit the website GottaRegister.com.  That’s not Got-To, it’s Gotta.  (Laughter.)  G-o-t-t-a-register.com.

Let’s prove the cynics wrong.  Let’s show them your votes count.  Let’s show them your voice makes a difference.  Let’s show them America better start listening to the voice of the next generation of Americans.  (Applause.)

I need your help to keep this American Dream alive, this incredible experiment we have in democracy; this idea that no matter where you’re born, or who your parents are, or how much money you got, or no matter what you look like or what you believe in, you can go as far as your talents take you.  (Applause.)  That dream that we can still, together, achieve great things; that you can pursue the happiness that you hope for and your parents hope for; that here in America you can make it if you try.

Ohio, we’ve come too far to turn back now.  (Applause.)  We’ve got more students who dream to afford college.  We’ve got more good teachers to hire.  We’ve got more schools to rebuild.  We’ve got more good jobs to create.  We’ve got more homegrown energy to generate.  We’ve got more troops we’ve got to come home.  We’ve got more doors of opportunity to open for everybody who is willing to walk through them.  That’s why I’m asking for a second term as President.

And if you’re willing to stand with me, and vote for me, and organize with me, and knock on doors and make phone calls with me, we will finish what we started.  We will win Ohio.  We will win this election.  And we will remind the world why the United States of America is the greatest nation on Earth.  (Applause.)

God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.

END
1:27 P.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidency July 7, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address Pushes Congress to Create Jobs, Keep College in Reach for Middle Class

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY
& THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES
& SPEECHES

President Obama discusses legislation that does two important things: It keeps thousands of construction workers on the job rebuilding our infrastructure, and it stops interest rates on federal loans from doubling this year for more than seven million students.

President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address

President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address in Boardman, Ohio, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 7/6/12

Weekly Address: Pushing Congress to Create Jobs, Keep College in Reach for Middle Class

Source: WH, 7-7-12
President Obama discusses legislation he signed on Friday that does two important things: It keeps thousands of construction workers on the job rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, and it stops interest rates on federal loans from doubling this year for more than seven million students. 

Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

WEEKLY ADDRESS: Pushing Congress to Create Jobs, Keep College in Reach for Middle Class

In this week’s address, President Obama spoke to the American people from Ohio about a bill signed on Friday that does two important things: it keeps thousands of construction workers on the job rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, and it stops interest rates on federal loans from doubling this year for more than seven million students.  The President urges Congress to do more to help our economic recovery and create jobs, including taking half the money we’re no longer spending on war and using it to build roads, bridges and wireless networks at home, and expanding financial aid to two million students while giving them the opportunity to learn the skills that businesses need right now.  It’s time for our elected officials to come together to help strengthen the middle class.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
As Prepared for Delivery
Boardman, OH
Saturday, July 7, 2012

Hi, everybody.  I’m here in Ohio, where I’ve spent the past couple days talking with folks about our central challenge as a country – not just reclaiming all the jobs lost to the recession, but reclaiming the economic security that so many Americans have lost over the last decade.

Our mission isn’t just to put people back to work – it’s to rebuild an economy where that work pays; an economy in which everyone who works hard has the chance to get ahead.

For months, I’ve been pushing Congress to pass several common-sense ideas that will help us do that.  And on Friday, I signed into law a bill that will do two things for the American people.

First, it will keep thousands of construction workers on the job rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure.

Second, it will keep interest rates on federal student loans from doubling this year – which would have hit more than seven million students with about a thousand dollars more on their loan payments.

Those steps will make a real difference in the lives of millions of Americans.  But make no mistake: we’ve got more to do.

The construction industry was hit brutally hard when the housing bubble burst.  So it’s not enough to just keep construction workers on the job doing projects that were already underway.

For months, I’ve been calling on Congress to take half the money we’re no longer spending on war and use it to do some nation-building here at home.  There’s work to be done building roads and bridges and wireless networks.  And there are hundreds of thousands of construction workers ready to do it.

The same thing is true for our students.  The bill I’m about to sign is vital for millions of students and their families.  But it’s not enough to just keep their student loan rates from doubling.

For months, I’ve been calling on Congress to reform and expand the financial aid that’s offered to students.  I’ve been asking them to help us give two million Americans the opportunity to learn the skills that businesses in their area are looking for – right now – through partnerships between community colleges and employers. In America, a higher education cannot be a luxury reserved for just a privileged few.  It’s an economic necessity that every American family should be able to afford.

Finally, I want to thank every American who took the time to sit down and write a letter, type out an e-mail, make a phone call or send a tweet hoping your voice would make a difference.  I promise you – your voice made all the difference.  And as long as I have the privilege of being your President, your voice will be heard in the White House.

Thanks and have a great weekend.

Full Text Obama Presidency April 24, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech Woos Student Voters & Pushes Congress to Prevent Low-Rate Student Loans from Doubling

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Asks Students to Tell Congress: #DontDoubleMyRate

Source: WH, 4-24-12

 

President Obama was at the University of North Carolina this afternoon asking students to tell their members of Congress one thing: Don’t double my rates.

Five years ago, Congress cut the rates on federal student loans in half. That was a good thing to do. But on July 1st — that’s a little over two months from now — that rate cut expires.  And if Congress does nothing, the interest rates on those loans will double overnight…. And just to give you some sense of perspective — for each year that Congress doesn’t act, the average student with these loans will rack up an additional $1,000 in debt — an extra thousand dollars.  That’s basically a tax hike for more than 7 million students across America — more than 160,000 students here in North Carolina alone.

President Obama said that stopping this from happening — and helping more young people afford college — should be a no-brainer because in today’s economy, a college degree is an economic imperative:

In today’s economy, there is no greater predictor of individual success than a good education.  Right now, the unemployment rate for Americans with a college degree or more is about half the national average.  Their incomes are twice as high as those who don’t have a high school diploma.

And a college education –whether from a two-year or four-year school – shouldn’t be something that only some families can afford. A good education should be within reach for all students willing to work for it. But tuition and fees at America’s colleges have more than doubled since today’s college students were born, and students are taking on more debt to pay for it.

President Obama has worked to help more young people and their families afford a higher education. His Administration is offering incentives for states, colleges, and universities to keep costs down. And now he’s calling on Congress to do their part, and he’s asking students to help make sure they do.

But I’m asking everyone else who’s watching or following online — call your member of Congress. Email them. Write on their Facebook page. Tweet them — we’ve got a hashtag. Here’s the hashtag for you to tweet them:  #dontdoublemyrate. All right?  I’m going to repeat that — the hashtag is #dontdoublemyrate.

… Your voice matters. Stand up. Be heard. Be counted. Tell them now is not the time to double the interest rate on your student loans. Now is the time to double down on smart investments that build a strong and secure middle class. Now is the time to double down on an America that’s built to last.  


Learn more:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President on College Affordability — University of North Carolina

University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, North Carolina

1:13 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you!  (Applause.)  Hello, North Carolina!  (Applause.)  What’s up, Tar Heels?  (Applause.)

Now, first of all, I want to thank Domonique for that unbelievable introduction.  Wasn’t she good?  (Applause.)  You can tell she will be an outstanding teacher.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  I love you, President Obama!

THE PRESIDENT:  I love you back, I do.  (Applause.)  Love North Carolina.  I love North Carolina.  (Applause.)  I do.  Every time I come down to this state I just love it that much more.  (Applause.)  I said a while back, the thing about North Carolina is even the folks who don’t vote for me are nice to me.  (Laughter.)  I can’t say that about everyplace.  (Laughter.)

Now, I want to issue a quick spoiler alert:  Later today, I am getting together with Jimmy Fallon — (applause) — and the Dave Matthews Band — (applause) — right here on campus.  We’re going to tape Jimmy’s show for tonight — so I want everybody to tune in, make sure it has high ratings.  (Laughter.)  It’s a Dave Matthews fan right here.

We’ve got some wonderful people who are here who are doing a great job for you guys.  First of all, your Governor, Bev Perdue, is in the house.  Give her a big round of applause.  (Applause.)  There she is.  We’ve got your Congressman, Dave Price — Congressman David Price.  (Applause.)  Congressmen GK Butterfield.  (Applause.)  Congressman Brad Miller.  (Applause.)  Your Mayor, Mark Kleinschmidt.  (Applause.)  Chancellor of UNC, Holden Thorp.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Four more years!  Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT:  It is great to be back on the Lady Tar Heels’ home court.  (Applause.)  This is an arena with some serious hoops history.  I know the men’s team used to play here back in the day.  I just want to remind you right off the bat — I picked UNC to win it all in March Madness.  (Applause.)  Want to point out.  And if Kendall hadn’t gotten hurt — (laughter)  — who knows where we might have been.

I saw McAdoo, by the way, at the airport.  He came by and said hello, which I was excited — so I just want you to know I have faith in you guys.  (Applause.)

Now, it’s always good to begin with some easy applause lines — talk about the Tar Heels.  (Laughter.)  But the reason I came to Chapel Hill today is to talk about what most of you do here every single day — and that’s study, I assume.  (Laughter.)  Higher education is the single most important investment you can make in your future.  (Applause.)  So I’m proud of all of you for doing what it takes to make that investment — for the long hours in the library — I hope — (laughter) — in the lab, in the classroom.  This has never been more important.

Whether you’re here at a four-year college or university, or you’re at a two-year community college, in today’s economy, there’s no greater predictor of individual success than a good education.  (Applause.)  Right now, the unemployment rate for Americans with a college degree or more is about half the national average.  The incomes of folks with a college degree are twice as high as those who don’t have a high school diploma.  A higher education is the clearest path into the middle class.  (Applause.)

Now, I know that those of you who are about to graduate are wondering about what’s in store for your future.  Not even four years ago, just as the global economy was about to enter into freefall, you were still trying to find your way around campus.  And you’ve spent your years here at a time when the whole world has been trying to recover, but has not yet fully recovered from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the worst economic crisis in most of our lifetimes — and that includes your teachers.

Our businesses have added more than 4 million jobs over the past two years, but we all know there’s still too many Americans out there looking for work or trying to find a job that pays enough to cover the bills and make the mortgage.  We still have too many folks in the middle class that are searching for that security that started slipping away years before the recession hit.

So we’ve still got a lot of work to do to rebuild this economy so that it lasts, so that it’s solid, so that it’s firm.  But what I want you to know is that the degree you earn from UNC will be the best tool you have to achieve that basic American promise — the idea that if you work hard, you can do well enough to raise a family and own a home, send your own kids to college, put a little away for retirement.  (Applause.)  That American Dream is within your reach.  (Applause.)

And there’s another part of this dream, which is the idea that each generation is going to know a little bit more opportunity than the last generation.  That our kids — I can tell you now as a parent — and I guarantee you, your parents feel this about you — nothing is more important than your kid’s success.  You want them to do better than you did.  (Applause.)   You want them to shoot higher, strive more, and succeed beyond your imagination.

So keeping that promise alive is the defining issue of our time.  I don’t want this to be a country where a shrinking number of Americans are doing really, really well, but a growing number of people are just struggling to get by.  That’s not my idea of America.  (Applause.)  I don’t want that future for you.  I don’t want that future for my daughters.  I want this forever to be a country where everybody gets a fair shot and everybody is doing their fair share, and everybody is playing by the same set of rules.  (Applause.)  That’s the America I know and love.  That’s the America within our reach.

I think back to my grandfather.  He had a chance to go to college because this country decided every returning veteran of World War II should be able to afford it, should be able to go to college.  (Applause.)  My mother was able to raise two kids by herself because she was able to get grants and work her way through school.  (Applause.)  I am only standing here today, Michelle is only who she is today — (applause) — because of scholarships and student loans.  That gave us a shot at a great education.  We didn’t come from families of means, but we knew that if we worked hard we’d have a shot.

This country has always made a commitment to put a good education within the reach of all who are willing to work for it.  That’s what makes us special.  That’s what made us an economic superpower.  That’s what kept us at the forefront of business and science and technology and medicine.  And that’s a commitment we have to reaffirm today in 2012.  (Applause.)

Now, everybody will give lip service to this.  You’ll hear a lot of folks say, yes, education is important — it’s important.  (Laughter.)  But it requires not just words but deeds.  And the fact is, that since most of you were born, tuition and fees at America’s colleges have more than doubled.  And that forces students like you to take out a lot more loans.  There are fewer grants.  You rack up more debt.  Can I get an “amen”?

AUDIENCE:  Amen!

THE PRESIDENT:  Now, the average student who borrows to pay for college now graduates with about $25,000 in student loan debt.  That’s the average — some are more.  Can I get an “amen” for that?

AUDIENCE:  Amen!

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes — because some folks have more debt than that.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Amen!  (Laughter and applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Americans now owe more on their student loans than they do on their credit cards.  And living with that kind of debt means that this generation is not getting off to the same start that previous generations — because you’re already loaded up with debt.  So that means you’ve got to make pretty tough choices when you are first starting out.  You might have to put off buying a house.  It might mean that you can’t go after that great idea for a startup that you have, because you’re still paying off loans.  Maybe you’ve got to wait longer to start a family, or save for retirement.

When a big chunk of every paycheck goes towards loan debt, that’s not just tough on you, that’s not just tough for middle-class families, it’s not just tough on your parents — it’s painful for the economy, because that money is not going to help businesses grow.  I mean, think about the sooner you can start buying a house, that’s good for the housing industry.  The sooner you can start up that business, that means you’re hiring some folks — that grows the economy.

And this is something Michelle and I know about firsthand.  I just wanted everybody here to understand this is not — I didn’t just read about this.  (Laughter and applause.)  I didn’t just get some talking points about this.  I didn’t just get a policy briefing on this.  Michelle and I, we’ve been in your shoes.  Like I said, we didn’t come from wealthy families.

So when we graduated from college and law school, we had a mountain of debt.  When we married, we got poorer together.  (Laughter and applause.)  We added up our assets and there were no assets.  (Laughter.)  And we added up our liabilities and there were a lot of liabilities, basically in the form of student loans.  We paid more in student loans than we paid on our mortgage when we finally did buy a condo.  For the first eight years of our marriage, we were paying more in student loans than what we were paying for our mortgage.  So we know what this is about.

And we were lucky to land good jobs with a steady income. But we only finished paying off our student loans — check this out, all right, I’m the President of the United States — (applause) — we only finished paying off our student loans about eight years ago.  (Laughter.)  That wasn’t that long ago.  And that wasn’t easy, especially because when we had Malia and Sasha, we’re supposed to be saving up for their college educations, and we’re still paying off our college educations.

So we have to make college more affordable for our young people.  That’s the bottom line.  (Applause.)  And like I said, look, not everybody is going to go to a four-year college or university.  You may go to a community college.  You may go to a technical school and get into the workforce.  And then, it may turn out that after you’ve had kids and you’re 35, you go back to school because you’re retraining for something new.  But no matter what it is, no matter what field you’re in, you’re going to have to engage in lifelong learning.  That’s the nature of the economy today.  And we’ve got to make sure that’s affordable.

That’s good for the country; it’s good for you.  At this make-or-break moment for the middle class, we’ve got to make sure that you’re not saddled with debt before you even get started in life.  (Applause.)  Because I believe college isn’t just one of the best investments you can make in your future — it’s one of the best investments America can make in our future.  This is important for all of us.  (Applause.)

We can’t price the middle class out of a college education.  Not at a time when most new jobs in America will require more than a high school diploma.  Whether it’s at a four-year college or a two-year program, we can’t make higher education a luxury.  It’s an economic imperative.  Every American family should be able to afford it.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Amen!

THE PRESIDENT:  So that’s why I’m here.  Now, before I ask for your help — I’ve got something very specific I’m going to need you to do.  But, North Carolina, indulge me.  I want to briefly tell you what we’ve already done to help make college more affordable, because we’ve done a lot.

Before I took office, we had a student loan system where tens of billions of taxpayer dollars were going to banks, not students.  They were processing student loan programs except the student loans were federally guaranteed so they weren’t taking any big risks, but they were still taking billions of dollars out of the system.  So we changed it.

Some in Washington fought tooth and nail to protect the status quo, where billions of dollars were going to banks instead of students.  And they wanted to protect that.  They wanted to keep those dollars flowing to the banks.

One of them said — and I’m going to quote here because it gives you a sense of the attitudes sometimes we’re dealing with in Washington.  They said, it would be “an outrage” — if we changed the system so that the money wasn’t going through banks and they weren’t making billions of dollars of profits off of it — said it was “an outrage.”

And I said, no, the real outrage is letting these banks keep these subsidies without taking any risks while students are working two or three jobs just to get by.  That’s an outrage.  That’s an outrage.  (Applause.)

So we kept at it, we kept it at — we won that fight.  Today, that money is going where it should be going — should have been going in the first place — it’s going directly to students.  We’re bypassing the middleman.  That means we can raise Pell grants to a higher level.  More people are eligible. More young people are able to afford college because of what we did.  (Applause.)  Over 10 years, that’s going to be $60 billion that’s going to students that wasn’t going to students before.  (Applause.)

Now, then, last fall, I acted to cap student loan payments faster, so that nearly 1.6 million students who make their payments on time will only have to pay 10 percent of their monthly income towards loans once they graduate.  (Applause.)  Now, this is useful — this is especially helpful for young people who decide, like Domonique, to become teachers, or maybe they go into one of the —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Social work.

THE PRESIDENT:  — social work or one of the helping professions.  (Applause.)  And they may not get paid a lot of money, but they’ve got a lot of debt.  And so being able to cap how much per month you’re paying as a percentage of your income gives you a little bit more security knowing you can choose that profession.

And then we wanted every student to have access to a simple factsheet on student loans and financial aid, so you can have all the information you need to make your own choices about how to pay for college.  And we set up this new consumer watchdog called the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — (applause) — and so they’re now putting out this information.  We call it “Know Before You Owe.”  Know before you owe.  It’s something Michelle and I wish we had had when we were in your shoes — because sometimes we got surprised by some of this debt that we were racking up.

So that’s what we’ve done.  But it’s not enough just to increase student aid.  We can’t keep subsidizing skyrocketing tuition or we’ll run out of money.  And colleges and universities, they’ve got to do their part also to keep college costs down.  (Applause.)  So I’ve told Congress to steer federal aid to those schools that keep tuition affordable, that provide good value, that serve their students well.  And we’ve put colleges on notice:  If you can’t stop tuition from just going up every single year a lot faster than inflation, then funding you get from taxpayers, at least at the federal level, will go down — because we need to push colleges to do better, and hold them accountable if they don’t.  (Applause.)

Now, public universities know well, and Governor Perdue knows well — states also have to do their part by making higher education a higher priority in their budgets.  (Applause.)  I know that Bev is fighting hard to make tuition affordable for North Carolina families.  That’s a priority for her.  But last year, over 40 states cut their higher education spending.  And these budget cuts have been among the largest factors in tuition increases at public colleges over the past decade.  So we’re challenging states to take responsibility.  We told them, if you can find new ways to bring down the cost of college and make it easier for students to graduate, then we’ll help you do it.

But I want everybody here, as you’re thinking about voting, make sure you know where your state representative and your state senator stands when it comes to funding higher education.  (Applause.)  They’ve got to be responsible.  They’ve got to be accountable as well to prioritize higher education.  (Applause.)

All right.  So helping more families, helping more young people afford a higher education; offering incentives for states and colleges and universities to keep their costs down — that’s what we’ve been doing.  Now Congress has to do their part.

They need to extend the tuition tax credit that we put in place back when I came into office.  It’s saving middle-class families thousands of dollars.  (Applause.)  Congress needs to safeguard aid for low-income students, like Pell grants, so that today’s freshmen and sophomores know that they’ll be able to count on it.  (Applause.)  That’s what Congress has to do.  Congress needs to give more young people the chance to earn their way through college by doubling the number of work/study jobs over the next five years.  (Applause.)  That’s what Congress needs to do.

And then there’s one specific thing — and now this is where you come in — there’s one specific thing that Congress needs to do right now to prevent the interest rates on student loans, federal student loans, from shooting up and shaking you down.  So this is where you come in.  I want to explain this, so everybody listen carefully.

Five years ago, Congress cut the rate on federal student loans in half.  That was a good thing to do.  But on July 1st — that’s a little over two months from now — that rate cut expires.  And if Congress does nothing, the interest rates on those loans will double overnight.

So I’m assuming a lot of people here have federal student loans.  The interest rates will double unless Congress acts by July 1st.  And just to give you some sense of perspective — for each year that Congress doesn’t act, the average student with these loans will rack up an additional $1,000 in debt — an extra thousand dollars.  That’s basically a tax hike for more than 7 million students across America — more than 160,000 students here in North Carolina alone.  Anybody here can afford to pay an extra $1,000 right now?

AUDIENCE:  No!  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  I didn’t think so.  So stopping this from happening should be a no-brainer.  Helping more of our young people afford college, that should be at the forefront of America’s agenda.  It shouldn’t be a Republican or a Democratic issue.  (Applause.)  This is an American issue.

The Stafford loans we’re talking about, they’re named after a Republican senator.  The Pell grants that have helped millions of Americans earn a college education, that’s named after a Democratic senator.  When Congress cut those rates five years ago, 77 Republicans in the House of Representatives voted for it — along with a couple hundred Democrats — (laughter) — including the Democrats who are here.  (Applause.)

So this shouldn’t be a partisan issue.  And yet, the Republicans who run Congress right now have not yet said whether or not they’ll stop your rates from doubling.  We’re two months away.  Some have hinted that they’d only do it if we cut things like aid for low-income students instead.  So the idea would be, well, all right, we’ll keep interest rates low if we take away aid from other students who need it.  That doesn’t make sense.

One Republican congresswoman said just recently — I’m going to quote this because I know you guys will think I’m making it up — (laughter).

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We trust you.  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  No, no, no.  She said she had “very little tolerance for people who tell me they graduate with debt because there’s no reason for that.”

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m just quoting here.  I’m just quoting.  She said, students who rack up student loan debt are just sitting on their butts, having opportunity “dumped in your lap.”

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  I mean, I’m reading it here, so I didn’t
make this up.  Now, can you imagine saying something like that?  Those of you who have had to take out student loans, you didn’t do it because you’re lazy.  You didn’t do it lightly.  You don’t like debt.  I mean, a lot of you, your parents are helping out, but it’s tough on them.  They’re straining.  And so you do it because the cost of college keeps going up and you know this is an investment in your future.

So if these folks in Washington were serious about making college more affordable, they wouldn’t have voted for a budget that could cut financial aid for tens of millions of college students by an average of more than $1,000.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Absolutely!  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  They certainly wouldn’t let your student loan rates double overnight.  So when you ask them, well, why aren’t you making this commitment?  They say, well, we got to bring down the deficit.  Of course, this is the deficit they helped run up over the past decade.  (Applause.)  Didn’t pay for two wars.  Didn’t pay for two massive tax cuts.  And now this is the reason why you want students to pay more?

They just voted to keep giving billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to big oil companies that are raking in record profits.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  They just voted to let millionaires and billionaires keep paying lower tax rates than middle-class workers and their secretaries.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  They even voted to give an average tax cut of at least $150,000 to folks like me, the wealthiest Americans — a tax cut paid for by cutting things like education and job training programs that give students new opportunities to work and succeed.

Now, that’s their priorities.  And that doesn’t make any sense.  Do we want to keep tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans who don’t need them and didn’t ask for them?  Or do we want to make sure that they’re paying their fair share?  (Applause.)   Do we want to keep subsidizing big oil, or do we want to make sure we’re investing in clean energy?  (Applause.)  Do we want to jack up interest rates on millions of students, or do we want to keep investing in things that will help us and help them in the long-term — things like education and science, and a strong military and care for our veterans?  (Applause.)  We can’t do both.  We can’t have it both ways.  We’ve got to make a choice about what our priorities are.  (Applause.)

You know, I’ve said this before, but I’m just going to keep on repeating it:  In America, we admire success.  We aspire to it.  I want everybody to be rich.  I want everybody to work and hustle and start businesses and study your tails off to get there.  (Laughter.)  But America is not just about a few people doing well.  America is about giving everybody a chance to do well.  (Applause.)  Everybody — not just a few — everybody.  (Applause.)  That’s what built this country.  That’s what the American Dream is all about.

A lot of us had parents or grandparents who said, maybe I can’t go to college, but some day my son, he’ll go to college and I’ll be so proud of him.  A lot of us had parents or grandparents who said, maybe I can’t start my own business, but maybe some day my daughter, she’s going to start her own business, she’s going to work for herself.  (Applause.)  A lot of us had parents or grandparents who said, I may be an immigrant, but I believe that this is a country where no matter what you look like and where you come from, no matter what your name is, you can make it if you try.  (Applause.)

North Carolina, that’s who we are.  That’s our values. That’s what we’re about.  So, no, “set your sights lowe” — that’s not an education plan.  “You’re on your own” — that’s not an economic plan.  We can’t just cut our way to prosperity.

Previous generations made the investments necessary for us to succeed, to build a strong middle class, to create the foundation for America’s leadership in science and technology and medicine and manufacturing.  And now it’s our turn.  We’ve got to do the right thing.  I want one of you to discover the cure for cancer, or the formula for fusion, or the next game-changing American industry.  (Applause.)  And that means we’ve got to support those efforts.

So if you agree with me, I need your help.  I need you to tell your member of Congress, we’re not going to set our sights lower.  We’re not going to settle for something less.  Now, all of you are lucky, you already have three congressmen who are on board.  So don’t — you don’t need to call them.  (Laughter and applause.)  They’re already doing the right thing.  But I’m asking everyone else who’s watching or following online — call your member of Congress.  Email them.  Write on their Facebook page.  Tweet them — we’ve got a hashtag.  (Laughter.)  Here’s the hashtag for you to tweet them:  #dontdoublemyrate.  (Applause.)  All right?  I’m going to repeat that — the hashtag is #dontdoublemyrate.  You tweet — everybody say it just so everybody remembers it.

AUDIENCE:  Don’t double my rate.

THE PRESIDENT:  Don’t double my rate — it’s pretty straightforward.

Your voice matters.  So stand up.  Be heard.  Be counted.  Tell them now is not the time to double interest rates on your student loans.  Now is the time to double down on smart investments to build a strong and secure middle class.  Now is the time to double down on building an America that lasts.

AUDIENCE:  Absolutely!

THE PRESIDENT:  You — absolutely.  (Applause.)

You and me, all of us here, every single one of us — we’re here only because somebody, somewhere, felt responsibility not just for themselves, but they felt responsibility for something larger.  It started with them feeling responsible for their families.  So your parents sacrificed, your grandparents sacrificed to make sure you could succeed.  But then they thought bigger than that.  They thought about their neighborhood, they thought about their community, they thought about their country.  Now —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  The planet.

THE PRESIDENT:  They thought about the planet.  And now it’s our turn to be responsible.  It’s our turn to keep that promise alive.

And no matter how tough these times have been, no matter how many obstacles that may stand in our way, I promise you, North Carolina, there are better days ahead.  (Applause.)  We will emerge stronger than we were before.  Because I believe in you.  I believe in your future.  I believe in the investment you’re making right here at North Carolina.  (Applause.)  That tells me that you share my faith in America’s future.  And that’s what drives me every single day — your hopes, your dreams.  And I’m not quitting now because, in America, we don’t quit.  (Applause.)  We get each other’s backs.  We help each other get ahead.

And if we work together, we’ll remind the world just why it is that America’s the greatest nation on Earth.  (Applause.)

Thank you, everybody.  God bless you.  God bless America.  (Applause.)

END
1:48 P.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidency April 20, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address Calls on Congress to Extend Law & Prevent Student Loan Rates from Doubling

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama is calling on Congress to act before student loan interest rates double for more than 7.4 million students, adding an average of $1,000 to their debt.

President Obama is calling on Congress to act before student loan  interest rates

President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address in the State Dining Room, White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 4/20/12

Weekly Address: Calling on Congress to Prevent Student Interest Rates from Doubling

Source: WH, 4-21-12

President Obama believes that we should be doing everything we can to put higher education within reach for every American – because at a time when the unemployment rate for Americans with at least a college degree is about half the national average, it’s never been more important. He is calling on Congress to act before student loan interest rates double for more than 7.4 million students, adding an average of $1,000 to their debt. Congress has a chance to take action on what should be an area of bipartisan agreement to prevent this unnecessary and damaging increase in interest rates and give our young people a chance to succeed in the jobs of today and tomorrow.

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POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

WEEKLY ADDRESS: Calling on Congress to Prevent Student Interest Rates from Doubling

In this week’s address, President Obama called on Congress to act before student loan interest rates double for more than 7.4 million students, adding an average of $1000 to their debt. Having a college education has never been more important, but it’s also never been more expensive.  While the Obama administration has taken historic steps to provide Americans with a fair shot at an affordable college education, Republicans in Congress have instead prioritized huge new tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.  Congress has a chance to take action on what should be an area of bipartisan agreement to prevent this unnecessary and damaging increase in interest rates and give our young people a chance to succeed in the jobs of today and tomorrow.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
Saturday, April 21, 2012

Hi.  This week, I got the chance to sit down with some impressive students at Lorain County Community College in Ohio.  One of them was a woman named Andrea Ashley.  Two years ago, Andrea lost her job as an HR analyst.  Today, she’s getting certified in the fast-growing field of electronic medical records.  Before enrolling at Lorain, Andrea told me she was looking everywhere trying to find a new job.  But without a degree, she said that nobody would hire her.

Andrea’s story isn’t unique.  I’ve met so many Americans who are out there pounding the pavement looking for work only to discover that they need new skills.  And I’ve met a lot of employers who are looking for workers, but can’t find ones with the skills they’re looking for.

So we should be doing everything we can to put higher education within reach for every American – because at a time when the unemployment rate for Americans with at least a college degree is about half the national average, it’s never been more important.  But here’s the thing: it’s also never been more expensive.  Students who take out loans to pay for college graduate owing an average of $25,000.  For the first time, Americans owe more debt on their student loans than they do on their credit cards.  And for many working families, the idea of owing that much money means that higher education is simply out of reach for their children.

In America, higher education cannot be a luxury.  It’s an economic imperative that every family must be able to afford.  That’s why next week I’ll be visiting colleges across the country, talking to students about how we can make higher education more affordable – and what’s at stake right now if Congress doesn’t do something about it.  You see, if Congress doesn’t act, on July 1st interest rates on some student loans will double.  Nearly seven and half million students will end up owing more on their loan payments.  That would be a tremendous blow.  And it’s completely preventable.

This issue didn’t come out of nowhere.  For some time now, I’ve been calling on Congress to take steps to make higher education more affordable – to prevent these interest rates from doubling, to extend the tuition tax credit that has saved middle-class families millions of dollars, and to double the number of work-study jobs over the next five years.

Instead, over the past few years, Republicans in Congress have voted against new ways to make college more affordable for middle-class families, and voted for huge new tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires – tax cuts that would have to be paid for by cutting things like education and job-training programs that give students new opportunities to work and succeed.

We cannot just cut our way to prosperity.  Making it harder for our young people to afford higher education and earn their degrees is nothing more than cutting our own future off at the knees.  Congress needs to keep interest rates on student loans from doubling, and they need to do it now.

This is a question of values.  We cannot let America become a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of people struggle to get by.  We’ve got to build an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.  That’s how the middle class gets stronger.  That’s an economy that’s built to last.  And I’m not only going to take that case to college campuses next week – I’m going to take it to every part of the country this year.  Thanks, and have a great weekend.

Full Text January 27, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Rising Costs of College / University Tuition — Calls for Overhaul of Higher Education Financial Aid System

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President on College Affordability, Ann Arbor, Michigan

University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan

10:00 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Michigan!  (Applause.)  Oh, it is good to be back in Ann Arbor.  (Applause.)

Thank you, Christina, for that introduction.  I also want to thank your president, Mary Sue Coleman.  (Applause.)  The mayor of Ann Arbor, John Hieftje, is here.  (Applause.)  My outstanding Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, is in the house.  (Applause.) We have some outstanding members of Congress who are here as well, who are representing you each and every day.  Give them a round of applause — come on.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  I love you, President Obama!

THE PRESIDENT:  I love you back.  (Applause.)

So in terms of — boy, we’ve got all kinds of members of Congress here, so — (laughter.)

Where’s Denard?  (Applause.)  Denard Robinson is in the house.  (Applause.)  I hear you’re coming back, man.  (Applause.)  That is a good deal for Michigan.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Denard Robinson in 2012!  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, oh, come on.  They’re trying to draft you for President.  (Laughter.)  He’s got to graduate before he runs for President.  (Laughter.)  There’s an age limit.  (Laughter.)

Well, it is wonderful to be here.  I want to thank all of you for coming out this morning.  I know for folks in college, this is still really early.  I remember those days.  It is good home — good to be in the home of the Sugar Bowl champion Wolverines.  (Applause.)  And with Denard Robinson coming back, this will be a team to be reckoned with.  I understand your basketball team is pretty good this year, too.  (Applause.)  All right — go, Blue!  (Applause.)  It’s always good to start with a easy applause line.  (Laughter.)

But the reason I’m here today — in addition to meeting Denard Robinson — (laughter) — is to talk with all of you about what most of you do here every day — and that is to think about how you can gain the skills and the training you need to succeed in this 21st century economy.  And this is going to be one of the most important issues that not just you face, but this entire country faces:  How can we make sure that everybody is getting the kind of education they need to personally succeed but also to build up this nation — because in this economy, there is no greater predictor of individual success than a good education.

Today, the unemployment rate for Americans with a college degree or more is about half the national average.  Their incomes are twice as high as those who don’t have a high school diploma.  College is the single most important investment you can make in your future.  And I’m proud that all of you are making that investment.  (Applause.)

And the degree you earn from Michigan will be the best tool you have to achieve that basic American promise — the idea that if you work hard, if you are applying yourself, if you are doing the right thing, you can do well enough to raise a family and own a home and send your own kids to college, put away a little for retirement, create products or services — be part of something that is adding value to this country and maybe changing the world.  That’s what you’re striving for.  That’s what the American Dream is all about.

And how we keep that promise alive is the defining issue of our time.  I don’t want to be in a country where we only are looking at success for a small group of people.  We want a country where everybody has a chance.  (Applause.)  Where everybody has a chance.  We don’t want to become a country where a shrinking number of Americans do really well while a growing number barely get by.  That’s not the future we want.  Not the future I want for you, it’s not the future I want for my daughters.  I want this to be a big, bold, generous country where everybody gets a fair shot, everybody is doing their fair share, everybody is playing by the same set of rules.  That’s the America I know.  That’s the American I want to keep.  That’s the future within our reach.  (Applause.)

Now, in the State of the Union on Tuesday, I laid out a blueprint that gets us there.  Blueprint — it’s blue.  (Laughter and applause.)  That’s no coincidence.  I planned it that way, Michigan.  (Laughter.)  A blueprint for an economy that’s built to last.

It’s an economy built on new American manufacturing — because Michigan is all about making stuff.  (Applause.)  If there’s anybody in America who can teach us how to bring back manufacturing, it is the great state of Michigan.  (Applause.)

On the day I took office, with the help of folks like Debbie Stabenow, your senator, and Carl Levin and — (applause) — John Conyers — the American auto industry was on the verge of collapse.  And some politicians were willing to let it just die.  We said no.  We believe in the workers of this state.  (Applause.)  I believe in American ingenuity.  We placed our bets on the American auto industry, and today, the American auto industry is back.  Jobs are coming back — (applause) — 160,000 jobs.

And to bring back even more jobs, I want this Congress to stop rewarding companies that are shipping jobs and profits overseas, start rewarding companies who are hiring here and investing here and creating good jobs here in Michigan and here in the United States of America.  (Applause.)

So our first step is rebuilding American manufacturing.  And by the way, not all the jobs that have gone overseas are going to come back.  We have to be realistic.  And technology means that a larger and larger portion of you will work in the service sector as engineers and computer scientists.  (Applause.)  There you go.  We got the engineering school — there you go.  (Applause.)  And entrepreneurs.  So there’s going to be a lot of activity in the service sector.  But part of my argument, part of the argument of Michigan’s congressional delegation is that when manufacturing does well, then the entire economy does well.

The service sector does well if manufacturing is doing well, so we’ve got to make sure that America isn’t just buying stuff, but we’re also selling stuff — all around the world, products stamped with those three proud words:  Made In America.  (Applause.)

An economy built to last is also one where we control our energy needs.  We don’t let foreign countries control our energy supplies.  Right now, America is producing more of our own oil than we were eight years ago.  That’s good news.  (Applause.)  As a percentage, we’re actually importing less than any time in the last 16 years.

But — I think young people especially understand this — no matter how much oil we produce, we’ve only got 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves.  And that means we’ve got to focus on clean, renewable energy.  (Applause.)  We’ve got to have a strategy that, yes, is producing our own oil and natural gas.  But we’ve also got to develop wind and solar and biofuels.  (Applause.)

And that is good for our economy.  It creates jobs.  But it’s also good for our environment.  (Applause.)  It also makes sure that this planet is sustainable.  That’s part of the future that you deserve.

We’ve subsidized oil companies for a century.  That’s long enough.  Congress needs to stop giving taxpayer dollars to an oil industry that’s never been more profitable, and double down on a clean energy future that’s never been more promising.  (Applause.)

I don’t want to cede the wind or the solar or the battery industry to China or Germany because we were too timid, we didn’t have the imagination to make the same commitment here.  And I want those jobs created here in the United States of America.  And I also want us to think about energy efficiency, making sure — we’ve already doubled fuel efficiency standards on cars.  Part of Detroit coming back is creating more fuel-efficient cars here in Michigan — (applause) — and more fuel-efficient trucks.  And we’ve got to revamp our buildings to make them more fuel-efficient.

And we — if we are focused on this, we can control our energy future.  That’s part of creating an America that’s built to last.

And we’ve got to have an economy in which every American has access to a world-class higher education, the kind you are getting right here at the University of Michigan.  (Applause.)

My grandfather got the chance to go to college because this country decided that every returning veteran of World War II should be able to afford it.  My mother was able to raise two kids by herself because she was able to get grants and work her way through school.  I am only standing here today because scholarships and student loans gave me a shot at a decent education.  Michelle and I can still remember how long it took us to pay back our student loans.  (Laughter.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Tell the First Lady we wish her happy birthday!

THE PRESIDENT:  I will tell Michelle you said happy birthday.  (Applause.)

But I just want all of you to understand, your President and your First Lady were in your shoes not that long ago.  (Laughter.)  We didn’t come from wealthy families.  The only reason that we were able to achieve what we were able to achieve was because we got a great education.  That’s the only reason.  (Applause.)  And we could not have done that unless we lived in a country that made a commitment to opening up opportunity to all people.  (Applause.)

The point is, this country has always made a commitment to put a good education within the reach of all who are willing to work for it, and that’s part of what helped to create this economic miracle and build the largest middle class in history.
And this precedes even college.  I mean, we were — we helped to begin the movement in industrialized countries to create public schools, public high schools, understanding that as people are moving from an agricultural sector to an industrial sector, they were going to need training.

Now we’ve moved to an information age, a digitalized age, a global economy.  We’ve got to make that same commitment today.  (Applause.)

Now, we still have, by far, the best network of colleges and universities in the world.  Nobody else comes close.  Nobody else comes close.  (Applause.)  But the challenge is it’s getting tougher and tougher to afford it.  Since most of you were born, tuition and fees have more than doubled.  That forces students like you to take out more loans and rack up more debt.

In 2010, graduates who took out loans left college owing an average of $24,000.  That’s an average.  Are you waving because you owe $24,000 or — (laughter.)

Student loan debt has now surpassed credit card debt for the first time ever.  Think about that.  That’s inexcusable.  In the coming decade, 60 percent of new jobs will require more than a high school diploma.  Higher education is not a luxury.  It’s an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford.  And when I say higher education, I don’t just mean four-year colleges and universities; I also mean our community colleges and providing lifelong learning for workers who may need to retrain for jobs when the economy shifts.  All those things cost money, and it’s harder and harder to afford.  (Applause.)

So we’ve got to do something to help families be able to afford — and students to be able to afford — this higher education.  We’ve all got a responsibility here.

Thanks to the hard work of Secretary Duncan, my administration is increasing federal student aid so more students can afford college.  (Applause.)  And one of the things I’m proudest of, with the help of all these members of Congress, we won a tough fight to stop handing out tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to banks that issue student loans and shift that money to where it should go, directly to the students and to the families who need it.  (Applause.)

Tens of billions of dollars that were going to subsidies for banks are now going to students in the form of more grants and lower rates on loans.  We’ve capped student loan payments so that nearly 1.6 million students — including a bunch of you — are only going to have to pay 10 percent of your monthly income towards your loans once you graduate — 10 percent of your monthly income.  (Applause.)

So that’s what we’ve been doing.  Now Congress has to do more.  Congress needs to do more.  They need to stop the interest rates on student loans from doubling this July.  That’s what’s scheduled to happen if Congress doesn’t act.  That would not be good for you.  (Laughter.)  So you should let your members of Congress know:  Don’t do that.  Don’t do it.  Don’t do it.

They need to extend the tuition tax credit that we’ve put in place that’s saving some of you and millions of folks all across the country thousands of dollars.  And Congress needs to give more young people the chance to earn their way through college by doubling the number of work-study jobs in the next five years.  (Applause.)

So the administration has a job to do.  Congress has a job to do.  But it’s not just enough to increase student aid, and you can imagine why.  Look, we can’t just keep on subsidizing skyrocketing tuition.  If tuition is going up faster than inflation, faster than even health care is going up, no matter how much we subsidize it, sooner or later, we’re going to run out of money.  And that means that others have to do their part.  Colleges and universities need to do their part to keep costs down as well.  (Applause.)

Recently, I spoke with a group of college presidents who’ve done just that.  Here at Michigan, you’ve done a lot to find savings in your budget.  We know this is possible.  So from now on, I’m telling Congress we should steer federal campus-based aid to those colleges that keep tuition affordable, provide good value, serve their students well.  (Applause.)  We are putting colleges on notice — you can’t keep — you can’t assume that you’ll just jack up tuition every single year.  If you can’t stop tuition from going up, then the funding you get from taxpayers each year will go down.  We should push colleges to do better.  We should hold them accountable if they don’t.  (Applause.)

Now, states also have to do their part.  I was talking to your president — and this is true all across the country — states have to do their part by making higher education a higher priority in their budgets.  (Applause.)  Last year, over 40 states cut their higher education spending — 40 states cut their higher education budget.  And we know that these state budget cuts have been the largest factor in tuition increases at public colleges over the past decade.

So we’re challenging states:  Take responsibility as well on this issue.  (Applause.)  What we’re doing is, today we’re going to launch a Race to the Top for college affordability.  We’re telling the states, if you can find new ways to bring down the cost of college and make it easier for more students to graduate, we’ll help you do it.  We will give you additional federal support if you are doing a good job of making sure that all of you aren’t loaded up with debt when you graduate from college.  (Applause.)
And, finally, today I’m also calling for a new report card for colleges.  Parents like getting report cards.  I know you guys may not always look forward to it.  (Laughter.)  But we parents, we like to know what you’re doing.  From now on, parents and students deserve to know how a college is doing — how affordable is it, how well are its students doing?  We want you to know how well a car stacks up before you buy it.  You should know how well a college stacks up.

We call this — one of the things that we’re doing at the Consumer Finance Protection Board that I just set up with Richard Cordray — (applause) — is to make sure that young people understand the financing of colleges.  He calls it, “Know Before You Owe.”  (Laughter.)  Know before you owe.  So we want to push more information out so consumers can make good choices, so you as consumers of higher education understand what it is that you’re getting.

The bottom line is that an economy built to last demands we keep doing everything we can to bring down the cost of college.  That goes along with strengthening American manufacturing.  It means we keep on investing in American energy.  It means we double down on the clean energy that’s creating jobs across this state and guaranteeing your generation a better future.  (Applause.)

And you know what else it means?  It means that we renew the American values of fair play and shared responsibility.  (Applause.)  Shared responsibility.

I talked about this at the State of the Union.  We’ve got to make sure that as we’re paying for the investments of the future that everybody is doing their part, that we’re looking out for middle-class families and not just those at the top.  The first thing that means is making sure taxes don’t go up on 160 million working Americans at the end of next month.  (Applause.)  People can’t afford to lose $40 out of every paycheck.  Not right now.  Students who are working certainly can’t afford it.

Your voices encouraged and ultimately convinced Congress to extend the payroll tax cut for two months.  Now we’ve got to extend it for the whole year.  I need your help to get it done again.  Tell them to pass this tax cut, without drama, without delay.  (Applause.)  Get it done.  It’s good for the economy.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.  (Laughter and applause.)

Now, in the longer run, we’re also going to have to reduce our deficit.  We’ve got to invest in our future and we’ve got to reduce our deficit.  And to do both, we’ve got to make some choices.  Let me give you some examples.

Right now, we’re scheduled to spend nearly $1 trillion more on what was intended to be a temporary tax cut for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  That’s not fair.

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s not fair.  A quarter of all millionaires pay lower tax rates than millions of middle-class households.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  Not fair.  Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary.  I know because she was at the State of the Union.  She told me.  (Laughter.)  Is that fair?

AUDIENCE:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  Does it make sense to you?

AUDIENCE:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  Do we want to keep these tax cuts for folks like me who don’t need them?  Or do we want to invest in the things that will help us in the long term — like student loans and grants — (applause) — and a strong military — (applause) — and care for our veterans — (applause) — and basic research?  (Applause.)

Those are the choices we’ve got to make.  We can’t do everything.  We can’t reduce our deficit and make the investments we need at the same time, and keep tax breaks for folks who don’t need them and weren’t even asking for them — well, some of them were asking for them.  I wasn’t asking for them.  (Laughter.)  We’ve got to choose.

When it comes to paying our fair share, I believe we should follow the Buffett Rule:  If you make more than $1 million a year — and I hope a lot of you do after you graduate — (laughter) — then you should pay a tax rate of at least 30 percent.  (Applause.)  On the other hand, if you decide to go into a less lucrative profession, if you decide to become a teacher — and we need teachers — (applause) — if you decide to go into public service, if you decide to go into a helping profession — (applause) — if you make less than $250,000 a year — which 98 percent of Americans do — then your taxes shouldn’t go up.  (Applause.)

This is part of the idea of shared responsibility.  I know a lot of folks have been running around calling this class warfare.  I think asking a billionaire to pay at least as much as his secretary in taxes is just common sense.  (Applause.)  Yesterday, Bill Gates said he doesn’t think people like him are paying enough in taxes.  I promise you, Warren Buffett is doing fine, Bill Gates is doing fine, I’m doing fine.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Koch Brothers.

THE PRESIDENT:  They’re definitely doing fine.  (Laughter.)

We don’t need more tax breaks.  There are a lot of families out there who are struggling, who’ve seen their wages stall, and the cost of everything from a college education to groceries and food have gone up.  You’re the ones who need that.  You’re the ones who need help.  And we can’t do both.

There have been some who have been saying, well, the only reason you’re saying that is because you’re trying to stir people up, make them envious of the rich.  People don’t envy the rich.  When people talk about me paying my fair share of taxes, or Bill Gates or Warren Buffett paying their fair share, the reason that they’re talking about it is because they understand that when I get a tax break that I don’t need, that the country can’t afford, then one of two things are going to happen:  Either the deficit will go up and ultimately you guys are going to have to pay for it, or alternatively, somebody else is going to foot the bill — some senior who suddenly has to pay more for their Medicare, or some veteran who’s not getting the help that they need readjusting after they have defended this country, or some student who’s suddenly having to pay higher interest rates on their student loans.

We do not begrudge wealth in this country.  I want everybody here to do well.  We aspire to financial success.  But we also understand that we’re not successful just by ourselves.  We’re successful because somebody started the University of Michigan.  (Applause.)  We’re successful because somebody made an investment in all the federal research labs that created the Internet.  We’re successful because we have an outstanding military — that costs money.  We’re successful because somebody built roads and bridges and laid broadband lines.  And these things didn’t just happen on their own.

And if we all understand that we’ve got to pay for this stuff, it makes sense for those of us who’ve done best to do our fair share.  And to try to pass off that bill onto somebody else, that’s not right.  That’s not who we are.  (Applause.)  That’s not what my grandparents’ generation worked hard to pass down.  That’s not what your grandparents and your great-grandparents worked hard to pass down.  We’ve got a different idea of America, a more generous America.  (Applause.)

Everybody here is only here because somebody somewhere down the road decided we’re going to think not just about ourselves, but about the future.  We’ve got responsibilities, yes, to ourselves but also to each other.  And now it’s our turn to be responsible.  Now it’s our turn to leave an America that’s built to last.  And I know we can do it.  We’ve done it before and I know we can do it again because of you.

When I meet young people all across this country, with energy and drive and vision, despite the fact that you’ve come of age during a difficult, tumultuous time in this world, it gives me hope.  You inspire me.  You’re here at Michigan because you believe in your future.  You’re working hard.  You’re putting in long hours — hopefully some at the library.  (Laughter.)  Some of you are balancing a job at the same time.  You know that doing big things isn’t always easy, but you’re not giving up.

You’ve got the whole world before you.  And you embody that sense of possibility that is quintessentially American.  We do not shrink from challenges.  We stand up to them.  And we don’t leave people behind; we make sure everybody comes along with us on this journey that we’re on.  (Applause.)

That’s the spirit right now that we need, Michigan.  (Applause.)  Here in America, we don’t give up.  We look out for each other.  We make sure everybody has a chance to get ahead.  And if we work in common purpose, with common resolve, we can build an economy that gives everybody a fair shot.  And we will remind the world just why it is that the United States of America is the greatest nation on Earth.  (Applause.)

Thank you, everybody.  God bless you.  God bless the United States of America.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END           10:33 A.M. EST

Full Text October 26, 2011: President Barack Obama Unveils in Speech Student Loan Debt-Relief Plan

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama talks students loans at University of Colorado Denver

President Barack Obama waves to the crowd after arriving at the University of Colorado Denver campus, in Denver, Colo., Oct. 26, 2011. The President delivered remarks on the steps the Administration is taking to increase college affordability by making it easier to manage student loan debt. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Source: WH, 10-26-11
In this globally competitive, knowledge-based economy, higher education has never been more important. Simply put, America cannot lead in the 21st century without the best educated, most competitive workforce in the world. Nations that out-educate us today will out-compete us tomorrow, which is why some form of higher education is an absolute must.

We also know that college costs have never been higher — or more difficult to manage. The Administration has already provided aid to millions of students with historic investments in programs like Pell Grants and the American Opportunity Tax Credit. But we realize that many borrowers are struggling to both pay off their loans and make ends meet every month. And fear of being saddled with debt in the long run may deter many potential students from enrolling in college. They need help now.

That’s why today, President Obama announced new efforts to make college more affordable by helping millions of borrowers better manage their federal student loan debt. We’re taking executive action with two measures that will bring relief to borrowers by lowering their monthly loan payments — at no cost to taxpayers.

First, for some students we are proposing to cap student loan repayment at 10 percent of a borrower’s discretionary income, starting next year. For many who worry about managing their debt while working in lower-paying fields — including teachers, nurses, public defenders, and social workers — this could reduce their payments by hundreds each month.

We also want to provide immediate relief to borrowers already repaying their loans. While the pay-as-you-earn proposal would only apply to some current students and recent graduates, millions more borrowers may already be eligible for our current income-based repayment plan, which caps payments at 15 percent of a borrower’s discretionary income. We know there are folks who are struggling in repayment now — and for them the current Income Based Repayment (IBR) plan may be a great option. To learn more about this plan to see if it makes sense for you, visit www.studentaid.ed.gov/ibr….

President Obama has made historic investments in making college more affordable for millions of students. But many people who took out loans to pay for their education are struggling to make monthly payments on those loans, making our tough economic times a little bit more challenging. We can’t wait to help these people keep up with their student loans.

Today, the Obama Administration announced steps we are taking to help borrowers better manage their student loan debt by moving forward with a new “Pay As You Earn” proposal that will reduce monthly payments for more than 1.6 million people. Starting in 2014, borrowers will be able to reduce their monthly student loan payments from 15 percent to 10 percent of their discretionary income. But President Obama realizes that many students need relief sooner than that. The new “Pay As You Earn” proposal will fast track the initiative to begin next year.

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President on College Affordability

Auraria Events Center
University of Colorado – Denver Campus
Denver, Colorado

10:25 A.M. MDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you!  Well, it is great to be back in Colorado.  (Applause.)  And it is great to be here at CU Denver. (Applause.)

I tend to have some pretty good memories about Denver.  (Applause.)  We had a little gathering here a few years ago, at Mile High.  (Applause.)  So coming here gets me fired up.  Even when it’s snowing outside, I’m fired up.  (Applause.)  I don’t know where else you can go sledding in Halloween.  (Laughter.)  It’s like, what’s up with the snow this soon?  I mean, is this actually late?  This is late for Denver, huh?

I want to start by thanking Mahala for the wonderful introduction and for sharing her story, which I know resonates with a lot of young people here.  I want to thank your outstanding Governor, who’s here — John Hickenlooper is in the house.  (Applause.)  There he is.  The Mayor of Denver, Michael Hancock, is in the house.  (Applause.)  The Lieutenant Governor, Joe Garcia, is in the house.  (Applause.)  And one of the finest public servants, somebody you were wise enough to elect and then reelect as United States Senator — Michael Bennet is in the house.

You guys do a good job when it comes to elected officials in Colorado, I just want you to know.  (Applause.)  You have a good eye for talent.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love you!

THE PRESIDENT:  I love you back.  I do.  (Applause.)

Now, I’ve been doing a lot of traveling lately.  And the reason I’ve been hitting the road so much is because the folks I’m talking to in cities and small towns and communities all across America, they’re — let’s face it, they’re making a little more sense than the folks back in Washington.  (Applause.)

Here in Colorado, you’ve got folks who are spending months  — some, years — looking for work.  We’ve got families who are making tough sacrifices just to pay the bills, or the mortgage, or college tuition.  And Americans know we need to do something about it.  (Applause.)  And I know this is especially hard for a lot of young people.

You guys came of age at a time of profound change.  Globalization and technology have all made the world much more competitive.  Although this offers unmatched opportunity — I mean, the way that the world is now linked up and synched up means that you can start a business that’s global from your laptop.  But it also means that we are going to have to adapt to these changes.

And for decades, too many of our institutions — from Washington to Wall Street — failed to adapt, or they adapted in ways that didn’t work for ordinary folk — for middle-class families, for those aspiring to get into the middle class.  We had an economy that was based more on consuming things and piling up debt than making things and creating value.  We had a philosophy that said if we cut taxes for the very wealthiest, and we gut environmental regulations, and we don’t enforce labor regulations, and somehow if we let Wall Street just write the rules, that somehow that was going to lead to prosperity.  And instead what it did was culminate in the worst financial crisis and the deepest recession since the Great Depression.

For the last three years, we’ve worked to stabilize the economy, and we’ve made some progress.  An economy that was shrinking is now growing, but too slowly.  We’ve had private sector job growth, but it’s been offset by layoffs of teachers and police and firefighters, of the public sector.  And we’ve still got a long way to go.

And now, as you young people are getting ready to head out into the world, I know you’re hearing stories from friends and classmates and siblings who are struggling to find work, and you’re wondering what’s in store for your future.  And I know that can be scary.  (Applause.)  So the —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  — Mother Earth — backs of our children and our future.

THE PRESIDENT:  All right.  Thank you, guys.  We’re looking at it right now, all right?  No decision has been made.  And I know your deep concern about it.  So we will address it.

So here’s what I also know — and I know that’s true for folks who are concerned about the environment, folks who are concerned about foreign policy, but also folks who are concerned about the economy.

When I look out at all of you, I feel confident because I know that as long as there are young people like you who still have hope and are still inspired by the possibilities of America, then there are going to be better days for this country.  (Applause.)  I know that we are going to come through this stronger than before.

And when I wake up every single morning, what I’m thinking about is how do we create an America in which you have opportunity, in which anybody can make it if they try, no matter what they look like, no matter where they come from, no matter what race, what creed, what faith.  (Applause.)  And the very fact — the very fact that you are here, investing in your education, the fact that you’re going to college, the fact that you’re making an investment in your future tells me that you share my faith in America’s future.  (Applause.)  You inspire me — your hopes and your dreams and your opportunities.

And so the truth is the economic problems we face today didn’t happen overnight, and they won’t be solved overnight.  The challenges we face on the environment, or on getting comprehensive immigration reform done — on all these issues we are going to keep on pushing.  And it’s going to take time to restore a sense of security for middle-class Americans.  It’s going to take time to rebuild an economy that works for everybody — not just those at the top.  (Applause.)  But there are steps we can take right now to put Americans back to work and give our economy a boost.  I know it.  You know it.  The American people know it.

You’ve got leaders like Michael Bennet and Mark Udall and Diana DeGette that are looking out for you.  But the problem is there are some in Washington — (audience interruption) — there are some in Washington who don’t seem to share this same sense of urgency.  Last week, for the second time this month, Republicans in the Senate blocked a jobs bill from moving forward.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  Now, this is a jobs bill that would have meant nearly 400,000 teachers and firefighters and first responders back on the job.  (Applause.)  It was the kind of proposal that in the past has gotten Democratic and Republican support.

It was paid for by asking those who have done the best in our society, those who have made the most, to just do a little bit more.  And it was supported by an overwhelming majority of the American people.  But they still said no.  And it doesn’t make sense.  How can you say no to creating jobs at a time when so many people are looking for work?  It doesn’t make any sense.

So the truth is the only way we can attack our economic challenges on the scale that’s necessary — the only way we can put hundreds of thousands of people, millions of people, back to work is if Congress is willing to cooperate with the executive branch and we are able to do some bold action — like passing the jobs bill.  That’s what we need.  (Applause.)

And that’s why I am going to keep forcing these senators to vote on common-sense, paid-for jobs proposals.  And I’m going to need you to help send them the message.  You don’t need to tell Michael Bennet — he’s already on the page.  (Laughter.)  But I’m going to need you guys to be out there calling and tweeting and all the stuff you do.  (Laughter.)

But, listen, we’re not going to wait, though.  We’re not waiting for Congress.  Last month, when I addressed a joint session of Congress about our jobs crisis, I said I intend to do everything in my power right now to act on behalf of the American people — with or without Congress.  (Applause.)  We can’t wait for Congress to do its job.  So where they won’t act, I will.  (Applause.)

And that’s why, in recent weeks, we’ve been taking a series of executive actions.  We decided we couldn’t stop — we couldn’t just wait for Congress to fix No Child Left Behind.  We went ahead and decided, let’s give states the flexibility they need to meet higher standards for our kids and improve our schools.  (Applause.)

We said we can’t wait for Congress to help small businesses.  We’re going to go ahead and say to the federal government, pay small businesses faster if they’re contractors so they’ve got more money and they can start hiring more people.  (Applause.)

We said we’re not going to wait for Congress to fix what’s going on in our health care system.  We eliminated regulations that will save hospitals and patients billions of dollars.  (Applause.)  And yesterday we announced a new initiative to make it easier for veterans to get jobs, putting their skills to work in hospitals and community centers.  (Applause.)

On Monday, we announced a new policy that will help families whose home values have fallen, to refinance their mortgages and to save up to thousands of dollars a year.

All these steps aren’t going to take the place of the needed action that Congress has to get going on — they’re still going to have to pass this jobs bill, they’ve got to create jobs, they’ve got to grow the economy — but these executive actions we’re taking can make a difference.

And I’ve told my administration we’re going to look every single day to figure out what we can do without Congress.  What can we do without them?  (Applause.)  Steps that can save you money, and make government more efficient and responsive, and help heal this economy.  So we’re going to be announcing these steps on a regular basis.  And that’s why I came to Denver today — to do something that will be especially important to all of you here at CU Denver and millions of students — and former students — all across America.  (Applause.)

Now, I mentioned that we live in a global economy, where businesses can set up shop anywhere where there’s an Internet connection.  So we live in a time when, over the next decade, 60 percent of new jobs will require more than a high school diploma. And other countries are hustling to out-educate us today, so they can out-compete us tomorrow.  They want the jobs of the future.  I want you to have those jobs.  (Applause.)  I want America to have those jobs.  (Applause.)  I want America to have the most highly skilled workers doing the most advanced work.  I want us to win the future.  (Applause.)

So that means we should be doing everything we can to put a college education within reach for every American.  (Applause.)  That has never been more important.  It’s never been more important, but, let’s face it, it’s also never been more expensive.  There was a new report today, tuition gone up again, on average — much faster than inflation; certainly much faster than wages and incomes.

Over the past three decades, the cost of college has nearly tripled.  And that is forcing you, forcing students, to take out more loans and rack up more debt.  Last year, graduates who took out loans left college owing an average of $24,000.  Student loan debt has now surpassed credit card debt, for the first time ever.

Now, living with that kind of debt means making some pretty tough choices when you’re first starting out.  It might mean putting off buying a house.  It might mean you can’t start a business idea that you’ve got.  It may mean that you’ve got to wait longer to start a family, or certainly it means you’re putting off saving for retirement because you’re still paying off your student loans.

And when a big chunk of every paycheck goes towards student loans instead of being spent on other things, that’s not just tough for middle-class families, it’s painful for the economy and it’s harmful to our recovery because that money is not going to help businesses grow.

And let me say this — this is something Michelle and I know about firsthand.  I’ve been in your shoes.  We did not come from a wealthy family.  (Applause.)  I was raised mostly by a single mom and my grandparents.  And Michelle, she had sort of a “Leave it to Beaver” perfect family, but — (laughter) — she did.  They’re wonderful.  (Laughter.)  But her dad was a blue-collar worker, and her mom stayed at home.  But then when she did go to work, she worked as a secretary.  So our folks didn’t have a lot of money.  We didn’t even own our own home; we rented most of the time that we were growing up.

So by the time we both graduated from law school, we had, between us, about $120,000 worth of debt.  We combined and got poorer together.  (Laughter.)  So we combined our liabilities, not our assets.  (Laughter.)  So we were paying more for our student loans than we paid on our mortgage each month.

Look, obviously we were lucky to have gotten a great education and we were able to land good jobs with a steady income.  But it still took us almost 10 years to finally pay off all our student debt.  And that wasn’t easy, especially once we had Malia and Sasha, because now we’re supposed to be saving for their college, but we’re still paying for ours.  (Laughter.)

So the idea is, how do we make college more affordable, and how do we make sure you are burdened with less debt?  Now, college — keep in mind, college isn’t just one of the best investments you can make in your future.  It’s one of the bets investments America can make in our future.  (Applause.)  So we want you in school.  We want you in school.  But we shouldn’t saddle you with debt when you’re starting off.

So that’s why, since taking office, we’ve made it a priority to make college more affordable, reduce your student loan debt.  Last year we fought to eliminate these taxpayer subsidies that were going to big banks.  They were serving as middlemen in the student loan program — some of you may have heard about this.  So even though the loans were guaranteed by the federal government, we were still paying banks billions of dollars to be pass-throughs for the student loan program.

And we said, well, that’s not a good idea.  (Laughter.)  That’s not a good — now, of course, there were some in Washington who opposed me on this — that’s surprising.  (Laughter.)  I know — shocking.  (Laughter.)  So you had some Republicans in Congress who fought us tooth and nail to protect the status quo and to keep these tax dollars flowing to the big banks instead of going to middle-class families.  One of them said changing it would be “an outrage.”  The real outrage was letting banks keep these subsidies while students were working three jobs just to try to get by.  That was the outrage.  (Applause.)  And that’s why we ended the practice once and for all, to put a college education within reach of more Americans.

Then in last year’s State of the Union address, I asked Congress to pass a law that tells 1 million students they won’t have to pay more than 10 percent of their income toward student loans.  And we won that fight, too — (applause) — and that law will take effect by the time — that law is scheduled to take effect by the time freshmen graduate.

But we decided, let’s see if we can do a little bit more.  So today, I’m here to announce that we’re going to speed things up.  (Applause.)  We’re going to make these changes work for students who are in college right now.  (Applause.)  We’re going to put them into effect not three years from now, not two years from now — we’re going to put them into effect next year,  (Applause.)  Because our economy needs it right now and your future could use a boost right now.  (Applause.)

So here is what this is going to mean.  Because of this change, about 1.6 million Americans could see their payments go down by hundreds of dollars a month — and that includes some of the students who are here today.  (Applause.)  What we’re also going to do is we’re going to take steps to consolidate student loans so that instead of paying multiple payments to multiple lenders every month — and let me tell you, I remember this.  I remember writing like five different checks to five different loan agencies — and if you lost one that month, you couldn’t get all the bills together, you missed a payment, and then suddenly you were paying a penalty.  We’re going to make it easier for you to have one payment a month at a better interest rate.  (Applause.)  And this won’t cost — it won’t cost taxpayers a dime, but it will save you money and it will save you time.  (Applause.)

And we want to start giving students a simple fact sheet.  We’re going to call it “Know Before You Owe” — (applause) — “Know Before You Owe” — so you have all the information you need to make your own decisions about how to pay for college.  And I promise you, I wish Michelle and I had had that when we were in your shoes.

So these changes will make a difference for millions of Americans.  It will save you money.  It will help more young people figure out how to afford college.  It can put more money in your pocket once you graduate.  And because you’ll have some certainty, knowing that it’s only a certain percentage of your income that is going to pay off your student loans, that means you will be more confident and comfortable to buy a house or save for retirement.  And that will give our economy a boost at a time when it desperately needs it.  (Applause.)  So this is not just important to our country right now, it’s important to our country’s future.

When Michelle and I tuck our girls in at night, we think about how we are only where we are because somewhere down the line, somebody decided we’re going to give everybody a chance.  It doesn’t matter if you’re not born wealthy; it doesn’t matter if your dad is disabled or doesn’t own his own home; it doesn’t matter if you’re a single mom who had to take food stamps — you’re still going to get a shot.  You’re still going to get an education.  (Applause.)  This country gave us a chance.  And because our parents and their generation worked and sacrificed, they passed on opportunity to us.  And they didn’t do it alone.  It was something that we as a country did together.

And now it’s our turn — because the dream of opportunity is what I want for you, and I want for my daughters, and I want them for your children.  I want them for all young people, because no matter how tough times are, no matter how many obstacles stand in our way, we are going to make the dream that all Americans share real once again.  And that starts right now.  It starts with you. (Applause.)  It starts with you.

I am going to keep doing everything in my power to make a difference for the American people.  But, Denver, I need your help.  (Applause.)  Some of these folks in Washington still aren’t getting the message.  I need your voices heard.  I especially need your young — young people, I need you guys involved.  I need you active.  I need you communicating to Congress.  I need you to get the word out.  Like I said, tweet them.  Tweet them — they’re all tweeting all over the place.  (Laughter.)  You tweet them back.  Whatever works for you.

Tell them, do your job.  Tell them, the President has ideas that in the past have been supported by Democrats and Republicans — there’s no reason not to support them just to play politics.  (Applause.)  It’s time to put country ahead of party.  It’s time to put the next generation ahead of the next election.  (Applause.)  It’s time for all of us in Washington to do our job. It’s time for them to do their job.  (Applause.)  Too many people out there are hurting.  Too many people are out there hurting for us to sit around and doing nothing.

And we are not a people who just sit around and wait for things to happen.  We’re Americans; we make things happen.  We fix problems.  (Applause.)  We meet our challenges.  We don’t hold back, and we don’t quit.  (Applause.)  And that’s the spirit we need right now.

So, Denver, let’s go out and meet the moment.  Let’s do the right thing, and let’s go, once again, show the world just why it is the United States of America is the greatest nation on Earth. (Applause.)

God bless you.  God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

END
10:51 A.M. MDT

FACT SHEET: “Help Americans Manage Student Loan Debt”

Source: WH, 10-25-11

The Administration has made historic investments in Pell Grants and the American Opportunity Tax Credit to help make college more affordable for millions of current and future students. While college remains an excellent investment for most students, debt may discourage some potential students from enrolling, keeping them from getting the skills they need to compete in the global economy. Some borrowers may struggle to manage their bills and support their families.  The need for enough income to make large monthly payments may discourage some graduates from starting a new job-creating business or entering teaching or another lower-paying public service career.

Today, the President announced a series of additional steps that the Administration will take to make college more affordable and to make it even easier for students to repay their federal student loans:

Help Americans Manage Student Loan Debt by Capping Monthly Payments to What They Can Afford 

  • Allow borrowers to cap their student loan payments at 10% of discretionary income.  In the 2010 State of the Union, the President proposed – and Congress quickly enacted – an improved income-based repayment (IBR) plan, which allows student loan borrowers to cap their monthly payments at 15% of their discretionary income. Beginning July 1, 2014, the IBR plan is scheduled to reduce that limit from 15% to 10% of discretionary income.
  • Today, the President announced that his Administration is putting forth a new “Pay As You Earn” proposal to make sure these same important benefits are made available to some borrowers as soon as 2012. The Administration estimates that this cap will reduce monthly payments for more than 1.6 million student borrowers.

For example:

  • A nurse who is earning $45,000 and has $60,000 in federal student loans. Under the standard repayment plan, this borrower’s monthly repayment amount is $690. The currently available IBR plan would reduce this borrower’s payment by $332 to $358.  President Obama’s improved ‘Pay As You Earn’ plan will reduce her payment by an additional $119 to a more manageable $239 — a total reduction of $451 a month.
  • A teacher who is earning $30,000 a year and has $25,000 in Federal student loans.  Under the standard repayment plan, this borrower’s monthly repayment amount is $287 .  The currently available IBR plan would reduce this borrower’s payment by $116, to $171.  Under the improved ‘P ay As You Earn’ plan, his monthly payment amount would be even more manageable at only $114.   And, if this borrower remained a teacher or was employed in another public service occupation, he would be eligible for forgiveness under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program after 10 years of payments .
  •  Continues to provide help for those already in the workforce. Recent graduates and others in the workforce who are still struggling to pay off their student loans can immediately take advantage of the current income-based repayment plan that caps payments at 15% of the borrower’s discretionary income to help them manage their debt. Currently, more than 36 million Americans have federal student loan debt, but fewer than 450,000 Americans participate in income-based repayment. Millions more may be eligible to reduce their monthly payments to an amount affordable based on income and family size. The Administration is taking steps to make it easier to participate in IBR and continues to reach out to borrowers to let them know about the program .

Borrowers looking to determine whether or not income-based repayment is the right option for them should visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/ibr.

The CFPB also released the Student Debt Repayment Assistant, an online tool that provides borrowers, many of whom may be struggling with repayment, with information on income-based repayment, deferments, alternative payment programs, and much more.  The Student Debt Repayment Assistant is available at ConsumerFinance.gov/students/repay

Improve Ease of Making Payments and Reduce Default Risk by Consolidating Loans

  • Provide a discount on consolidation loans.  While all new federal student loans are now Direct Loans thanks to the historic reforms in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, there are still $400 billion outstanding in old Federal Family Education Loans.  These loans offer fewer repayment options and are unnecessarily expensive for taxpayers.  In addition, about 6 million borrowers have at least one Direct Loan and at least one FFEL loan, which requires them to submit two separate monthly payments, a complexity that puts them at greater risk of default.

To ensure borrowers are not adversely impacted by this transition and to facilitate loan repayment while reducing taxpayer costs, the Department of Education is encouraging borrowers with split loans to consolidate their guaranteed FFEL loans into the Direct Loan program. Borrowers do not need to take any action at this time.  Beginning in January 2012, the Department will reach out to qualified borrowers early next year to alert them of the opportunity.

This special consolidation initiative would keep the terms and conditions of the loans the same, and most importantly, beginning in January 2012, allow borrowers to make only one monthly payment, as opposed to two or more payments, greatly simplifying the repayment process. Borrowers who take advantage of this special, limited-time consolidation option would also receive up to a 0.5 percent reduction to their interest rate on some of their loans, which means lower monthly payments and saving hundreds in interest.  Borrowers would receive a 0.25 percent interest rate reduction on their consolidated FFEL loans and an additional 0.25 percent interest rate reduction on the entire consolidated FFEL and DL balance.

For example:

  • A borrower about to enter repayment with two $4,500 FFEL Stafford loans (at 6.0%) and a $5,500 Direct Stafford loan (at 4.5%). Under Standard Repayment, the borrower can expect to pay a total of $4,330 in interest until the loans are paid in full. If this borrower consolidates their FFEL loans under this initiative they would save $376 in interest payments, and make only one payment per month, instead of two.
  • A borrower in repayment with a $32,000 FFEL Consolidation loan (at 6.25%) and a $5,500 Direct Unsubsidized Stafford loan (at 6.8%). Under Standard Repayment, the borrower can expect to pay a total of $13,211 in interest until the loans are paid in full. If this borrower consolidates the FFEL loan under this initiative they would save $964 in interest payments, and make only one payment per month instead of two.

Provide Consumers with Better Information to Make College Selection Decisions

“Know Before You Owe” Financial Aid Shopping Sheet.

  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Department of Education have teamed up to launch a new “Know Before You Owe” project aimed at creating a model financial aid disclosure form, which colleges and universities could use to help students better understand the type and amount of aid they qualify for and easily compare aid packages offered by different institutions. This “Financial Aid Shopping Sheet” makes the costs and risks of student loans clear upfront – before students have enrolled – outlining their total estimated student loan debt, monthly loan payments after graduation and additional costs not covered by federal aid.  Ultimately, this provides students and their families with useful information that can help them make a more informed decision about where to attend college and help them better understand the debt burden they may be left with.

The CFPB is soliciting feedback on how to further improve the form, especially looking for input from college students and their families. They can go to the CFPB’s website ( http://consumerfinance.gov/students/knowbeforeyouowe ) where an online ranking tool will provide the public with an opportunity to weigh in on the financial aid shopping sheet.

New Report: U.S. History Majors Highest Earners in Humanities

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

A new report, from the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University, on median salaries for undergraduate majors finds that history majors go on to earn fairly respectable salaries. Looking at the median salary for everyone aged 18 to 64 years old with an undergraduate degree in any one of 171 different fields, the report finds that history majors do the best in the humanities, and better than students in a majority of the other fields.

The report separates majors in U.S. history from the rest, and finds it makes a big difference. Students who majored in U.S. history earned $57,000, as compared to $50,000 for other majors in history. The average salary for U.S. history majors was 18.7 percent higher than the average for all the humanities. The average salary for other history majors was the second highest, and on a level only with art history and criticism. U.S. history is also quite high relative to most of the other fields in the survey (especially in fields outside of the scientific, engineering, and business fields).

The report also highlights a few other interesting pieces of information—a significant portion of the history majors (43 percent) went on to earn graduate degrees in history or another field. And a substantial number of history students went into business—one in five said they were in management positions, for instance, and over 15 percent in sales (see figure below).

history majors occupations

For further analysis of the report see this article from The Chronicle, along with their interactive graphic. Inside Higher Ed also weighs in on the data, noting the surprising finding that “women and minorities clustered in low-paying fields with few opportunities for advancement.”

History Headlines July 4, 2010: Tenure, RIP: What the Vanishing Status Means for the Future of Education

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

Source: Chronicle of Higher Education, 7-4-10

Some time this fall, the U.S. Education Department will publish a report that documents the death of tenure.

Innocuously titled “Employees in Postsecondary Institutions, Fall 2009,” the report won’t say it’s about the demise of tenure. But that’s what it will show.

Over just three decades, the proportion of college instructors who are tenured or on the tenure track plummeted: from 57 percent in 1975 to 31 percent in 2007. The new report is expected to show that that proportion fell even further in 2009, dropping below one-third. If you add graduate teaching assistants to the mix, those with some kind of tenure status represent a mere quarter of all instructors…READ MORE

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