Obama Discusses Plan to Reclaim American Dream by Expanding Access to College
Obama will stand up to special interests and bring people together to create a $4,000 tuition tax credit, increase Pell Grants, and eliminate wasteful bank subsidies
Meeting with students at University of Texas Pan-American today, Senator Barack Obama discussed his plan to reclaim the American Dream for millions of young people by putting a college education within reach of every American. Obama, who benefited from financial aid and did not pay off his student loans until a few years ago, told the group that he'll be a President who fights to ensure every student can afford the world-class educational opportunities that are needed to succeed in a 21st century, international economy.
"The best investment that we can make in the American Dream is helping every American get a college education. For so many generations, college has been the passport to a better future," Obama said. "Like so many kids who didn't come from money and status, it's what helped Michelle and I reach a little further than our own parents. And it's also the key to making sure our country is competitive in the global economy - because when our people can rise a little higher, all of America is lifted up."
In a 21st century, global economy, it's increasingly critical that American students have the educational tools to compete. But college costs have gone up almost 40 percent in the last five years, and grant-aid fails to keep pace. Students and their families are having a harder time paying for college. Here in Texas, the average graduate leaves school with over $18,000 in debt. Meanwhile, in Washington, special interests and lobbyists carve out millions in wasteful subsidies that do little more than boost bank profits.
"All across America - on campuses just like UT Pan-American - the promise of America is being extended anew," Obama said. "We cannot let the doors of opportunity close because we couldn't come together to lower the cost of college. It's time to put that dream within reach for all American, regardless of ethnic or economic background. It's time to invest in the American Dream, so that the dream grows stronger, and opportunity is extended to every corner of this great country."
As President, Obama will expand access to college by:
*Providing a $4,000 fully refundable American Opportunity Tax Credit that will make the first $4,000 of a college education completely free for most Americans and will cover two-thirds the cost of tuition at the average public college or university;
*Expanding Pell Grants for low-income students;
*Eliminating wasteful bank subsidies and redirecting that money into aid for students;
*Simplifying the financial aid application process by replacing the FAFSA with a streamlined process that will allow students to predict their eligibility well in advance; and
*Creating a Community College Partership Program to strengthen community colleges that prepare students for the workforce or for transfer to four-year institutions.