Here’s something a lot of people don’t realize:
Just five years before we moved into the White House, Michelle and I were still paying off our student loans.
Which means that, as a student, I knew how it felt both to dream of a fine education and to worry about paying for it. Decades later, as President, I know that our country can’t afford for talented young Americans to miss out on a higher education.
College is one of the most important investments students can make in their future. It’s also one of the most important investments our country can make in our workforce — as every one of us is acutely aware, equipping Americans with the knowledge and skills they need to compete and win in our global economy will continue to be the key to our resurgence.
That’s why we’re continuing to work to make the dream of college real for more of America’s students.
And we’re making progress. We’ve increased investments in college scholarships like Pell Grants and the American Opportunity Tax Credit. We’re making student loans more affordable by cutting interest rates and capping payments at 10 percent of income. We’re promoting competition and innovation to bring costs down for students and their families.
I’m proud of that progress. But our bright young people considering college need to hear from each other, too. And so, as everyone heads back to school over the next several days, you’ll be hearing from your fellow Americans — at various stages in their own educations — about what’s worked for them. They’ll share their own advice with you, and your kids.
Meanwhile, senior officials from across the Administration will be hitting the road to discuss our plans to create more affordable, quality choices for students — such as community colleges and apprenticeships — and to give students the time and information they need to make good choices.
Tomorrow, I’ll travel with my favorite community college professor — Dr. Jill Biden — to Macomb County Community College, where I first laid out my community college plan six years ago. While in Michigan, I’ll make an announcement about apprenticeships, a crucial tool we’re using to rebuild an American workforce that is the envy of the world. And I’ll talk about the progress around the country in making community college free, and what more we need to do to make it available for more students.
Next Monday, I’ll meet up with Secretary Duncan — who will be traveling the country in a bus all week long — at a high school in Des Moines, Iowa where I’m looking forward to having a conversation with juniors and seniors gearing up for college as well as with their parents who, in many cases, are trying to figure out how to pay for it. And on Thursday, September 17th, as part of her Reach Higher initiative, Michelle will head to a local community college to check out their career and technical programs.
The students I hear from every day remind me that if we can come together around the idea that every American — no matter where they grew up, or how much money their parents have — deserves a quality education and a shot at success, then we can build a future as remarkable as our past.
Stay tuned — you’ll be hearing from us (and one another) again soon.
President Barack Obama