Earlier this month, President Obama delivered a speech on the importance of higher education during tough economic times. With job losses and corporate bankruptcies dominating the headlines in recent years, many have questioned the value and importance of trying to save a financially struggling education system. The President gave the following response while speaking at the University of Texas at Austin:
“In a single generation, we’ve fallen from 1st place to 12th place in college graduation rates for young adults…Now, that’s unacceptable, but it’s not irreversible. If we’re serious about making sure America’s workers—and America itself—succeeds in the 21st century, the single most important step we can take is make sure that every one of our young people has the best education that the world has to offer…education is an economic issue. Education is the economic issue of our time. It is an economic issue when the unemployment rate for folks who’ve never gone to college is almost double what it is for folks who have gone to college. It is an economic issue when almost 8 in 10 new jobs will require workforce training or higher education by the end of this decade. And it is an economic issue when we know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that countries that out-educate us today will out-compete us tomorrow”.
The President went on to explain that the administration is trying to help the higher education community by shifting all federal student loans to Direct Loans and expanding Pell Grants; reinvesting in community colleges, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and Hispanic-Serving Institutions; and focusing on college completion by identifying best models.