Following tonight’s State of the Union, President Obama will begin a series of speaking events across the country, traveling to Iowa, Arizona, Nevada and Colorado tomorrow and Thursday before arriving in Michigan on Thursday evening at the University of Michigan.
We need not skirt the issue that this is an election year, and of course the President must do what he must do to secure votes–especially in Michigan–but considering his speaking events concern higher education, well, then they should be considered.
So, what is the President going to chirp about?
Well, we’ll hear about it in the SOTU, but if we were to guess what Obama was going to say about education, it would probably be along the lines of affordability. He’s been hitting the issue fairly hard lately, especially since his election campaign is focusing on a middle-class message. In fact, Obama released a webcast last week that hinted at the SOTU’s content. Parts of that speech suggested that it would modeled on December’s Kansas speech that focused on “getting people the education and training they need so they’re ready to take on jobs of today and tomorrow.”
You can see in our previous posts that Obama has been revving up his focus on college costs. For instance, in December he met with college leaders to discuss tuition affordability. Why is this such an important issue? Well, on top of it being an election year, college tuition is rising faster than inflation! With budget and funding cuts, public universities are losing their funding flexibility. Many public universities are looking for out-of-state students, who pay higher tuition, to balance the books. On top of this, student-loan debt is estimated to be $1 trillion.
So, sshhyeeeah. President Obama has a lot of ground to cover in terms of higher education. And if he can resolve even a portion of the issues at hand…well, I’m sure some college-bound students would be happy to extend their vote to him.
What’s your take on the affordability issues? If you were in power, how would you solve the problem?