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By Ella Mitchell, Contributing News Editor • June 14, 2024

SOTU highlights: Obama says White House is ‘shaking up’ higher education

President Barack Obama urged colleges to commit to expanding access to lower-income students. Hatchet File Photo
President Barack Obama urged colleges earlier this month to expand access to lower-income students, an issue he also addressed Tuesday. Hatchet File Photo
This post was written by Hatchet reporter Ari Boyarsky

President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address highlighted education from the first line – lauding the work of teachers who have helped boost the nation’s graduation rate.

Education came into focus a handful more times during the 65-minute address, with the president emphasizing the role of colleges to maximize their value and better prepare students for high-tech jobs of the future.

Obama pointed to the White House’s summit earlier this month, which brought together about 100 college leaders, who pledged to take action to reduce the higher education gap, from workshops on applying to college, like GW, to more funding for financial aid.

All that would amount to a major rethinking of where and why students should attend college, Obama said.

“We’re shaking up our system of higher education to give parents more information, and colleges more incentives to offer better value, so that no middle-class kid is priced out of a college education,” Obama said to applause.

He made similar calls for improving access in 2012 and last year.

Obama said his administration “set out to change the odds for all our kids” when he entered office, working to reform student loans and allow students to cap their monthly loan payments at 10 percent of their income.

He also stressed the role of research universities in helping the U.S. pull ahead in the global “race for the next wave of high-tech manufacturing jobs” with not only hard skills, but also a focus on innovation.

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