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Doubt rises from Obama's promise to college students

By Victoria Neely

President Barack Obama delivered his annual State of the Union speech last week, giving an overview of what his administration has accomplished this past year. His address repeatedly mentioned the end of the Iraq war after a long nine years, the assassination of bin Laden, and the departure of American troops from Afghanistan. Obama also talked about tax cuts and credits to manufacturing businesses that bring jobs back to America, prospects for clean energy, our debt crisis, and other topics.

Obama touched on how unemployment has affected all age groups in the country. He petitioned for more jobs for veterans coming home from overseas, health care reform, and protested the inflation of college tuition that is driving thousands of college students into never ending student loan debt.

"At a time when Americans owe more in tuition debt than credit card debt," Obama said, "this Congress needs to stop the interest rates on student loans from doubling in July."

He called on an extension of the tuition tax credit that saves middle-class families thousands of dollars, and to double the number of work-study jobs that are available to students. He wants states to make higher education a more prominent priority in their budgets, and for colleges and universities to work to keep their tuition costs down. He even went as far as to put colleges and universities "on notice": that if they don't halt the rise of tuition costs, the taxpayer funding to these schools will "go down."

All of this may sound fine and dandy to us broke students who face the reality of monstrous student loan debt when we finally graduate from college, or to the students whose only means of getting through college is by taking out a loan or applying for federal aid, but will Obama's words really make a difference when so many millions of Americans are struggling enough just to put a meal on the table? I don't think so.

His speech presented many great ideas that could possibly help get the United States back on track. However, I do believe that he is promising too much. Almost 90 percent of Hofstra students are receiving some kind of financial aid, whether it is a loan, grant, or scholarship.

When tuition goes up, it is more likely that the amount of financial aid available to Hofstra students will not follow suit. I guess you could say my point of this information is that as college students struggling to make it through these important years of our lives, we need more solutions.

I'm not talking about the federal government fully spotting us to pay for higher education, I'm talking about the thousands of dollars that we are going to owe our lenders someday, much of which we will be paying for the rest of our lives. Simply extending the tuition tax credit, doubling the amount of work-study jobs available to students, and attempting to have colleges and universities keep their costs low by threatening to lower taxpayer funding will not solve many problems.

In this country's present crisis, we can understand why Obama wants to promise us so much. However, with so many Americans panic stricken over what is to come, Obama's promises to college students and their families is something that I will have to see in order to believe.

Illustration by Ashlie Bauer

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