President Barack Obama revealed his plans for to make college more affordable in his first State of the Union Address on Jan. 27, 2010. The plan includes an increase in student funding by ending taxpayer subsidies for student loans, increasing Pell grants and giving families $10,000 dollars in tax credits for four years of college.”In this economy, a high school diploma no longer guarantees a good job,” said President Obama. The job market is highly competitive, but attending college equips young students with the knowledge to make themselves marketable. “A worker in this kind of economy only has two things to offer, either you have high skills or a willingness to work for low wages,” said Dr. Mike Metke, TJC President.College helps students build work ethic and develop the needed skills to apply in the work force. Working for low wages is an option but obviously a poorer choice. Taking advantage of the opportunities college has to offer is a smart choice, but may lay a heavy burden on a student’s wallet.Many college students fall prey to student loans, and after graduation, find themselves in a pile of serious debt.”In 2008, 67 percent of students graduating from four-year colleges and universities had student loan debt,” according to 2008 statistics from projectionstudentdebt.org.The cost of attending college can be both intimidating and discouraging, but there are options.”Set your sights, set your goals, and do two things; find all the financial aid you can get that you don’t have to pay back but, secondly, know what you’re good at, hone those skills, work at those skills,” TJC Provost Dr. Homer Hayes said.Free financial aid meaning Pell Grants, which are like student loans but, do not have to be paid back. The amount of money available from the federal government may vary depending on student’s workload, financial situation and school’s tuition. The maximum Pell Grant award for the 2009-10 award year (July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010) is $5,350, according to studentaid.ed.gov.

Obama’s plan encourages young people to go to college, by easing the financial burden. “The Obama budget eliminates the Federal Family Education Loan Program, which excessively subsidizes banks, and moves to the U.S. Department of Education’s Direct Loan program,” according to socialsecurity.ourfuture.org.The money will be redirected to help increase the maximum Pell Grant from $5,350 to $5,500, which will raise the average national Pell Grant award from $3,299 to $3,423. “Increasing the award will also enable an additional 130,000 more students to attend college per $100 increase in the maximum award,” according socialsecurity.ourfuture.org.The belief is creating opportunity for education creates opportunity for better careers, which creates opportunity for better salaries/wages. By providing the financial resources, Obama challenges young Americans to succeed by helping themselves. “Instead of funding the status quo, we only invest in reform — reform that raises student achievement,” said President Obama. To read President Obama’s State of the Union Address go to whitehouse.gov.

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