Carrying on the dream

March 31, 2010, 7:37 p.m. | By Lauren Kestner | 14 years, 2 months ago

When President Obama signed the final part of his healthcare bill in Alexandria on Tuesday, a fervent crowd at the National Virginia Community College lauded him for finally achieving his campaign promise to expand coverage to over 32 million uninsured Americans. With so much media attention devoted to the merits and downsides of Obama's healthcare plan, it's no surprise that many have overlooked a lesser-known provision in the bill that impacts a rapidly expanding demographic: students seeking more affordable higher education.

Although healthcare reform has been a key issue on the minds of Americans everywhere, college costs are just as concerning.  Photo courtesy of The Washington Post .

Championing his educational reforms as a victory over the callous banking industry, Obama promised that his restructuring of federal student loans will open doors for students whose career opportunities are limited by the skyrocketing costs of a college education. Obama's most recent initiative marks his longstanding commitment to expanding access to higher education, a concern he first addressed by allocating $30.8 billion for improving college affordability under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Specifically, Obama set aside $17 billion to subsidize the educations of an estimated seven million low-income students by increasing the size of federal grants offered through the Pell Grant program from $500 to $5350 within the first year of the bill's passage.

Obama's latest overhaul of our education system is a lifesaver for many families who are still scrambling to secure low-interest student loans and set aside savings to offset the costs of a college education. Designed to elevate the U.S. to the highest-ranking country in terms of the proportion of college graduates by 2020, Obama's initiative doubles funding for Pell grants and restructures student loans to reduce financial burdens on graduates. Starting in 2014, loan repayments cannot exceed 10 percent of a graduate's salary, a significant decrease from the current 15 percent cap.

With his generous infusion of government funds to improve access to higher education, Obama's recurring campaign slogan "Yes we can!" will resonate with millions of low-income students whose career dreams are now within reach.

Lauren Kestner. Lauren Kestner loves Trader Joe's chocolates, cheesy television soap operas, summer trips to Lake Anna, coffee ice cream from Coldstone Creamery, hikes at Northwest Branch and shopping at Heritage. Playing soccer for Blair or her MSC club team and running at the gym consumes much … More »

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