Weekly Address: Supporting America’s Students
In this week's address, President Obama underscored the importance of helping to lift the burden of crushing student loan debt faced by too many Americans and highlighted the efforts he’s taken to ensure we uphold America's commitment to provide a quality education for all who are willing to work for it. While the President will continue to take action on his own, he urged Congress to do its part and commended Senate Democrats for working on a bill that would help more young people save money.
Hi, everybody. This is commencement season, a time for graduates and their families to celebrate one of the greatest achievements of a young person’s life. But for many graduates, it also means feeling trapped by a whole lot of student loan debt. And we’ve got to do more to lift that burden.
See, in a 21st century economy, the surest pathway into the middle class is some form of higher education. The unemployment rate for workers with a bachelor’s degree is just 3.3 percent – about half what it is for high school graduates. The typical graduate of a four-year college earns $15,000 more per year than someone with just a high school degree.
But at a time when college has never been more important, it’s also never been more expensive.
That’s why, since I took office, I’ve worked to make college more affordable. We reformed a student loan system that gave away billions of taxpayer dollars to big banks and invested that money where it makes a bigger bang – in helping more young people afford a higher education.
But over the past three decades, the average tuition at a public four-year college has more than tripled. The average undergraduate student who borrows for college now graduates owing almost $30,000. And I’ve heard from too many young people who are frustrated that they’ve done everything they were supposed to do – and now they’re paying the price.
I’ve taken action on my own to offer millions of students the opportunity to cap their monthly student loan payments to 10% of their income. But Congress needs to do its part. The good news is that Senate Democrats are working on a bill that would help more young people save money. Just like you can refinance your mortgage at a lower interest rate, this bill would let you refinance your student loans. And we’d pay for it by closing loopholes that allow some millionaires to pay a lower tax rate than the middle class.
That’s the choice that your representatives in Congress will make in the coming weeks – protect young people from crushing debt, or protect tax breaks for millionaires. And while Congress decides what it’s going to do, I will keep doing whatever I can without Congress to help responsible young people pay off their loans – including new action I will take this week.
This country has always made a commitment to put a good education within the reach of all who are willing to work for it. That’s what made us an economic superpower. That’s what makes us special. And as long as I hold this office, I’ll keep fighting to give more young people the chance to earn their own piece of the American Dream. Thanks, and have a great weekend.