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Obama Adminstration's College Affordability Initiative Pushes Free Community College for Responsible Students

First Posted: May 16, 2015 05:00 AM EDT
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Earlier this month, President Barack Obama highlighted the importance of making college education accessible as part of his America's College Promise campaign, an initiative stemming from a desire for quality college and affordable education. Also, the proposal would offer two years of community college education to responsible students at no cost.

In California, for example, Latinos have made strides in educational advancement for decades; however, there is still a prominent achievement gap. According to a recent report from the Campaign for College Opportunity, just 12 percent of working-age Latinos in California hold a bachelor's degree, compared to 42 percent of non-Hispanic whites. Latinos are underrepresented in the state's education system, and some of that absence can be attributed to cost. 

"Making College Affordable for Millions of Americans," a report distributed by the executive office, documents efforts to make community college education reachable. Education and skills training is necessary for long-term economic growth and prosperity. Thus, it has become abundantly apparent that America requires widespread knowledge and skills in order to meet the demands of the global economy, without putting knowledge-hungry individuals into decades of taxing, burdensome debt they're forced to carry with them as they seek out careers.

Within the past six years, the President and Congress instituted increased Pell Grant funding and they created the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC), offering $2,500 per student, per year to help cover the cost of tuition, fees and books. This year, Obama is attempting to make community college free to responsible college students, and he's attempting to expand regulations that restrict student loan payments at 10 percent of income.

Together, Pell Grants and the AOTC will afford countless students and families $50 billion in aid next year to fund their education. The investment of Pell Grants and the AOTC, along with aid from other sources, helps to cap the net cost of college tuition, and it opens doors to millions of students, despite deep cuts to higher education funding in many states. The grants also provides for students attending community college because tuition costs have dipped at four-year private colleges and remained constant at community colleges.

Student loan debt management, particularly for disadvantaged students, can be addressed in a number of ways, which includes keeping interest rates low, so borrowers can continue to benefit from low interest rates in the marketplace; making student debt manageable through regulation expansion; helping students succeed through grand programs, such as First in the World Program; measuring college quality to produce instruction that students deserve and the economy demands; partnering with the private sector on a call to action on college opportunity; and making job training more demand-driven.

Also, proper management is a matter of building on progress for future generations, continuing a record of success and endorsing Obama's America's College Promise plan, which proposes to make two years of community college free for students, allowing students to earn a degree and access to the workforce at no cost.

Read the full report here.

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