President Obama Discusses Higher Education in State of the Union Address

Obama at the State of the Union

Obama at the State of the Union

On Tuesday evening, President Obama gave his 7th State of the Union address to Congress. Among the many issues covered in the broad-sweeping speech was higher education. The President transitioned into the topic by citing two statistics: more Americans graduate college today than ever before, and by the end of the decade, over two-thirds of job openings in the U.S. will require some degree of higher education.

As expected, the president reiterated his recent plan to make two years of community college free across the United States. Economists have estimated that the plan will cost upwards of $60 billion over the next ten years. It would be jointly funded by the states and the federal government. The president used examples of successful initiatives in Chicago and Tennessee, the latter of which was spearheaded by a Republican governor, as evidence that the proposed program could prove fruitful. Critics of the plan have cited its high costs and its likelihood of supporting middle and upper class students that don’t necessarily need the help. Some opponents have suggested a plan that institutes a sliding-scale for financial support that takes into account family income in order to accommodate the students in most dire need of financial assistance.

The president also vowed to improve upon the rate at which military veterans achieve college degrees and to ease the burden of student debt by reducing monthly student loan payments.