President Barack Obama will visit North High School in Des Moines, Iowa, on Monday as part of his 2015 Back-to-School bus tour. There he’ll talk with juniors and seniors about “gearing up for college as well as with their parents who, in many cases, are trying to figure out how to pay for it,” he said in remarks delivered by email to the White House email list.
He wrote that he and his wife, Michelle, just five years before they moved into the White House, were still paying off student loans.
Which means that, as a student, I knew how it felt to both dream of a fine education and to worry about paying for it. Decades later, as President, I know that our country can’t afford for talented young Americans to miss out on a higher education.
College is one of the most important investments a student can make in their future. It’s also one of the most important investments our country can make in our workforce—as every one of us is acutely aware, equipping Americans with the knowledge and skills they need to compete and win in our global economy will continue to be the key to our resurgence.
That’s why we’re continuing to work to make the dream of college real for more of America’s students.
Ways in which he hopes to make college a reality for more US students include:
- Increase investments in college scholarships: Pell Grants, American Opportunity Tax Credit
- Make student loans more affordable: cut interest rates; cap payments at 10% of income
Tax credits, like the American Opportunity Tax Credit may have little or no effect on college outcomes, though, some opinion writers claim.
Their chief concern is that for many low-income families, living paycheck-to-paycheck, the tax credit and the resulting refund wouldn’t come until months after their tuition bills are due. They also point out that the refund goes to the parents who file the taxes, not to the individual students.
The president’s extension of this tax credit beyond the original 2013 expiration date did in fact expand opportunity to more low-income students who attend school part-time, but we wonder what effect it has in terms of encouraging more US students to attend—and complete—college.
Next stops on the Back-to-School Tour 2015
The president is expected to announce tomorrow $175 million in new grants targeting 34,000 new apprenticeships in industries such as healthcare, I/T and advanced manufacturing.
“We’re building a skills superhighway and superhighways need on-ramps. The investment in apprenticeship is an investment in that on-ramp. We know that the path to the middle class has many beginnings and many routes. The apprenticeship route is a tried-and-true earn while you learn model that’s been effective across the world,” Labor Secretary Tom Perez said.
The president is also expected to announce the creation of the College Promise Advisory Board, an independent advisory group to be led by Dr Jill Biden and former Wyoming Gov Jim Geringer to promote and examine models that provide two years of free community college. The president’s plan two years ago to accomplish this stalled in Congress.