Student Response to The State of the Union Address
WASHINGTON, DC—Following President Obama’s State of the Union speech, United States Student Association President Victor Sanchez releases State of the Student Union and issues the following statement:
Higher education can’t be a luxury – it’s an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford’ declared President Obama at yesterday’s State of the Union speech. He spoke of an America that once again leads the world in educating its people.
President Obama outlined some very important pieces relevant to students which included keeping interest rates on student loans from doubling for new borrowers come July 1 and extending the tuition tax credit.
The President also mentioned giving more young people the chance to earn their way through college by doubling the number of Federal work-study jobs in the next five years and advocating with a direct message to colleges and universities that if they can’t stop tuition from going up, then the funding they get from taxpayers will go down. Currently, our students are graduating with average of $25,000 in debt. We are walking across the state with mortgage size loans and no homes. President Obama made no mention at all about the private sector predatory lending that has left our generation and this country with more student debt than credit card debt. Without bold action, our generation will continue to become worse off than our parents were at our age.
Although implicitly mentioned, the Federal DREAM Act, which has attracted massive public and legislative support, is an issue we all know needs to pass. President Obama made his support of the legislation very clear and urged Congress to pass a more comprehensive reform to our immigration system that includes the stopping of deportations of DREAM Eligible students. However, there was no explicit mention of administrative relief through an executive order, which would be in line with his ‘we can’t wait for Congress’ campaign. The President’s speech lacked an action plan for enacting real reform legislation.
Overall, last night’s address showed at a minimum some promising signs towards awareness of the issues that effect students and young people. But, there’s still work to be done, USSA and Student Labor Action Project are campaigning against student debt and this March students from around the country will be traveling to USSA’s 43rd Annual Grassroots Legislative Conference here in Washington, DC to follow up on the President speech and pushing Congress to Act.”