State of the Union Targets Students

February 2011

By Jessi Rucker

In President Barrack Obama’s State of the Union Address last month, he challenged Americans to “out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world.”

Obama’s budget plan proposed eliminating the $4 billion in federal subsidies granted to fossil fuel industries every year and using that money towards making college affordable for millions of students.

“The education race doesn’t end with a high school diploma,” said the president. “To compete, higher education must be within the reach of every American.”

Despite a recession, college tuition and fees have increased by 100 percent over the last ten years, according to Business Insider. While the cost of college skyrockets, many young Americans are forced to put higher education on hold to enter a quite possibly bleaker quest for a career, a grim American job market.

The American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act created by Obama in 2009. The AOTC offers $10,000 for four years of college to individuals making less than $80,000 a year and married couples making less than $160,000. Obama is to send it back to Congress to make it permanent as it expires this year.

About 10 million college students are predicted to meet those requirements, which would grant them with $1,250 a semester, lessening Mercy tuition by a sixth. Yet it might not be enough to convince new students that college is affordable.

“America has fallen to ninth in the proportion of young people with a degree,” Obama said.

Senate Democrats stated how important they feel about making college more affordable despite its rising cost of tuition.

“A college degree is the ticket to prosperity for our children in this increasingly competitive economy, but it is priced as a luxury. Senate Democrats want to make sure every American who wants and deserves to go to college can afford to do so.”

The average cost of four years of higher education is $119,400 for private colleges and $33,300 for public institution. A Mercy College student would spend $82,450 in full tuition to receive a bachelor degree at the current price of $8,245 for a 12-credit semester.

The president wants to pass a Patent Bill that would make new patents easier for innovative Americans, notably in areas of fuel and energy. Obama hopes that these innovations create jobs for some of the near 10 percent of the country that is unemployed.

“None of us can predict with certainty what the next big industry will be or where the new jobs will come from,” the President stated. “Thirty years ago, we couldn’t know that something called the Internet would lead to an economic revolution.”

Obama budget plans include investments in the research, development and production of clean energy which he said would “create countless jobs for our people.” With plans for 80 percent of our energy coming from clean sources by 2035, the United States would lead the world in clean energy.

“We can break our dependence on oil with biofuels and become the first nation to put one million electric vehicles on the road by 2015,” Obama said.