Obama's State of the Union Fails to Address Student Debt


On New Year’s Day, most Americans create resolutions and dreams they hope to accomplish that year. For high school seniors and college students, one yearly wish might be to reduce the debt that comes with their degrees.

President Barack Obama vowed to help alleviate the burdens of college loans in late October, but students and their families still find themselves this January, unhappily filling out their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms with little hope that they’ll receive an education grant. Even when given a great platform for pitching his re-election to today’s youth at his annual State of the Union, Obama only quickly touched on the economic woes that come from achieving higher education. This quick brush on a problem that affects both the wider economy and the work force can hurt his ability to win re-election since he needs young voters on his side this fall.

In less than 15 minutes during his Tuesday speech, Obama rushed through problems with America’s education system. He spoke about finding the best teachers for elementary and high school instruction, and giving “community colleges the resources they need to become community career centers.”

 He asked states to make high school mandatory for students until they turn 18-years-old, and called on Congress to create an immigration plan that allows foreign students in American colleges the opportunity of citizenship. But when addressing American students’ with college loans, Obama left the problem not just for a later time, but asserted the blame to the schools themselves. 

“Of course, it’s not enough for us to increase student aid. We can’t just keep subsidizing skyrocketing tuition; we’ll run out of money,” Obama said during his address. “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.”

The statement would sound more so if the government spent more on education like it does on defense or entitlement programs.

Alongside Obama’s swift response, Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana agreed with Obama’s suggestions to fixing K-12 schooling, but did not comment on higher education.          

At the close of his segment on higher education, Obama highlighted the necessity of such degrees.

“Higher education can’t be a luxury,” Obama said. “It’s an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford.”

Clearly he and members of both parties know education comes at a price, and must see that no one with significant economic assets, aside from the federal government, is willing to financially invest in all of America’s college students. They should re-evaluate where taxpayer money really goes, and aim to put more on education, so that students are not left to the mercy of their university or college. But what an students do for now? Nothing but close their eyes, submit their FAFSA, and hope for the best.

Photo Credit: Llima