What Obama’s Last State of the Union Means for College Students

On Tuesday Night, President Obama addressed the country in his final State of the Union, and addressed not only the state of affairs in America as of the present, but what he saw to the future of America in the coming decade. Much has already been written of the speech, but here at the Free Press, the decision was made to specifically examine how Obama’s speech addressed the most salient issues facing college students.

In his speech, regarding the continuing rise of student loan debt in graduating students, the president stated, “we’ve already reduced student loan payments to ten percent of a borrower’s income.”

In this case, the president is referring to a Presidential Memorandum issued in June of 2014, in which he called for the expansion of the Pay as You Earn (PAYE) program, which, as the president stated, capped student loan payments at ten percent of discretionary income.

This was indeed completed in Mid-December, when the Department of Education launched the Revised Pay as You Earn (REPAYE), which, among other things, eliminated the income requirements to apply for the program and differentiated payments on undergraduate versus graduate loans.

The President also addressed his plans regarding community college, stating, “we’ve actually got to cut the cost of college. Providing two years of community college at no cost for every responsible student is one of the best ways to do that.”

While this may not seem to affect McDaniel students, given the college’s status as a four-year private college, it is important to note that a number of students transfer into McDaniel from two-year community colleges, in part thanks to the scholarships offered by the school to such students.

As such, the president’s plans for no cost community college could have a large effect on the upcoming generation of McDaniel students, as well as for college students in general.

Lastly, in a more broad sense, the president addressed the young entrepreneurs of America, many of whom are now in college or soon to graduate, stating, “we’re [America is] every immigrant and entrepreneur from Boston to Austin to Silicon Valley racing to shape a better world.”

Entrepreneurship and tech-based development have become heavily focused upon at colleges across the country, including at McDaniel with the recently launched Encompass Distinction, which, according to the school, “will give you a competitive edge by helping you hone your innovative thinking and entrepreneurial skillset.”

Of course, the president also mentioned a number of other topics which should be considered equally important to college students, with comments on health care, gun rights and foreign policy in general. However, when it comes to college-based issues, the mentions may have been brief, but there was certainly a solid amount that students should take note of.