Last night, January 24th 2012, President Barack Obama delivered his 2012 State of the Union address. It was filled with a teamwork concept of lawmakers to shore up a potential long-term financial crisis and risk to traditional American lifestyle and the middle class. He also focused on energy, tougher banking and financial restrictions, health reform, tax adjustments for the wealthier Americans, and educational improvement.
Since we’re mainly focused on higher education and financial aid, we’ll only speak to that point of the State of the Union.
First off, President Obama spoke about education being a major part of his agenda. He believes America should be a country that leads the world in educating it’s people.
“An America that attracts a new generation of high-tech manufacturing and high-paying jobs. A future where we’re in control of our own energy, and our security and prosperity aren’t so tied to unstable parts of the world,” Obama said. “An economy built to last, where hard work pays off, and responsibility is rewarded.”
So What Did Obama’s 2012 State of the Union specifically say about American Education?
He started off congratulating states and local educators for raising their standards for teaching and for learning. And doing it for less than 1 percent of what our nation spends on education every year. That’s the first time in a LONG time that has happened.
He spoke about the importance of teachers. And in a time where a lot of other countries are spending MORE on teachers and education, budget cuts and deficit worries have forced American states to lay off thousands of teachers. He offered suggestions on reward programs and providing additional resources to state education to keep, hire, and employ more and better teachers who are happy with their jobs.
He wants to increase graduation rates and called on states to pass new laws to mandate that all students stay in school until they graduate or hit 18 years of age.
President Obama addressed concern over the growing cost of tuition stating that, “…the most daunting challenge can be the cost of college. At a time when Americans owe more in tuition debt than credit card debt, this Congress needs to stop the interest rates on student loans from doubling in July.”
He implored Congress to extend the tuition tax credit his administration has already started as well as loan borrowing cost reductions. The President has already put loan borrowing policy into place that reduces the burden on student repayment plans. He wants to double the number of work-study programs available so students can work their way through school and increase aid to ease costs.
Lastly, he warned higher education institutions to keep their costs down and education affordable for everybody. Obama said, “So let me put colleges and universities on notice: If you can’t stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down. Higher education can’t be a luxury – it’s an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford.”
So What does the 2012 State of the Union on Education Mean for Me?
In our opinion, it’s clear that the President realizes the importance of affordable education. We believe the current tax breaks and borrowing percentage reductions will continue as is, maybe even get better. The Obama administration has already bumped up the Pell Grant to $5500 and that may increase as well in the near future. There seems to be a strict focus on making higher education as affordable as possible for every citizen while increasing student and financial aid options to every student. This should only get better as we move along, especially now that private colleges as well as university institutions are going to be on notice to keep their skyrocketing costs from going up.