By Carmen Orozco-Acosta, Policy Analyst, Education Policy Project, NCLR
Yesterday brought great news for the millions of students across this country that want to go to college, but are concerned about the ever-increasing price tag. President Obama announced a new plan to help make college more affordable to the middle class, an important move from his Administration which has undertaken a number of efforts to make higher education attainable for all Americans. The skyrocketing cost of higher education is a problem that affects all students, but hits the Latino community especially hard, because our youth are often first-generation college students and come from low-income households.
A college education has become a baseline credential to compete in an increasingly competitive job market. Students who want to pursue a college degree should be able to, without accruing a mountain of debt. Unfortunately, realistic concerns about post-college graduation debt often deter students from pursuing higher education. In a country that values education and treats it as the great equalizer, that frankly shouldn’t be the case
President Obama’s plan to develop a college rating system will help students and their families obtain more information about the colleges that they are considering and/or attending, and will encourage colleges to make improvements that will better serve their students. We are pleased that his plan focuses on using new technology as way to decrease the costs of higher education. New methods of teaching and learning that do not sacrifice the quality of education for lower costs are important avenues that should be explored. In addition, setting caps on loan repayments for students to reflect their income is an excellent idea that will provide much needed relief to young adults facing these post-graduation pressures.
We count on Congress do their part to make college affordable and to reauthorize the Higher Education Act. And, we eagerly anticipate working with the White House to develop and implement these proposals, so that education and access to college is attainable for all communities.