Every February, the president of the United States shares his plans for the next year at his State of the Union Address. The nation is told of changes and hopes for the future presidential term. This hour-long address covers a huge range of topics, from the economy to health care.
On Feb. 12, 2013 President Barack Obama stood in front of America and went over his plan for higher education. So, what does this mean for the University of Oregon?
“It’s a simple fact: the more education you have, the more likely you are to have a job and work your way into the middle class,” Obama said. However for most, going to college is easier said than done — especially when it comes to funding all four years or more.
“Colleges must do their part to keep costs down, and it’s our job to make sure they do,” Obama said. “Tonight, I ask Congress to change the Higher Education Act so that affordability and value are included in determining which colleges receive certain types of federal aid.”
His administration also created the College Scorecard, a website that will provide information for prospective students to look at different universities and compare them. The site outlines the cost, graduation rate, loan default rate and jobs graduates are most likely to get. Any school can be looked up, and some of the categories have a comparison to the federal average.
According to Obama, this is what “parents and students can use to compare schools based on a simple criteria: where you can get the most bang for your educational buck.”
Florida Senator Marco Rubio gave the Republican response. “I believe in federal financial aid,” Rubio said, speaking about his own background and struggle to pay back student loans. “I couldn’t have gone to college without it. But it’s not just about spending more money on these programs; it’s also about strengthening and modernizing them.”
“A 21st-century workforce should not be forced to accept 20th-century education solutions,” Rubio said. In the main he agreed with President Obama but emphasized the role of nontraditional students. “Today’s students aren’t only 18-year-olds. They’re returning veterans. They’re single parents who decide to get the education they need to earn a decent wage. And they’re workers who have lost jobs that are never coming back and need to be retrained. We need student aid that does not discriminate against programs that nontraditional students rely on — like online courses or degree programs that give you credit for work experience.”
The ultimate goal for this administration is to make higher education more accessible and affordable for everyone.
“To grow our middle class, our citizens must have access to the education and training that today’s jobs require,” Obama said. “But we also have to make sure that America remains a place where everyone who’s willing to work hard has the chance to get ahead.”