Remarks by the President on College Affordability

From White House.gov Press Office Feed
May 31, 2013 - 11:30am

Rose Garden 10:26 A.M. EDT   THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning, everybody.  Have a seat.  Have a seat.  Welcome to the White House.  I know it’s a little warm.  (Laughter.)    One of my favorite things about this job is that I get to spend some time with remarkable young people from all across the country.  It inspires me.  It makes me feel good.  Those of you who have had to put on suits and ties and show up at the White House first thing on a Friday morning may not feel the same way I do -- (laughter) -- but I appreciate all of you being here.  You cleaned up very well.    And these students and graduates are here to talk about something that matters to millions of young people and their families, and that’s the cost of a college education.  Because this isn’t just critical for their futures, but it’s also critical for America’s future.   Over the past four and a half years, we’ve been fighting our way back from a financial crisis and an incredibly punishing recession -- the worst since the Great Depression -- and it cost millions of Americans their jobs and their homes, the sense of security that they’d spent their lives building up.    The good news is, today, our businesses have created nearly 7 million new jobs over the past 38 months.  500,000 of those jobs are in manufacturing.  We’re producing more of our own energy, we’re consuming less energy, and we’re importing less from other countries.  The housing market is coming back.  The stock market has rebounded.  Our deficits are shrinking at the fastest pace in 50 years.  People’s retirement savings are growing again.  The rise of health care costs are slowing.  The American auto industry is back.   So we’re seeing progress, and the economy is starting to pick up steam.  The gears are starting to turn again, and we’re getting some traction.  But the thing is, the way we measure our progress as a country is not just where the stock market is; it’s not just to how well the folks at the top are doing; it’s not just about the aggregate economic numbers.  It’s about how much progress ordinary families are making.  Are we creating ladders of opportunity for everybody who’s willing to work hard?  Are we creating not only a growing economy, but also the engine that is critical to long-lasting, sustained economic growth -- and that is a rising, thriving middle class.  That’s our focus.  That’s what we’ve got to be concerned about every single day.  That’s our North Star.   And that means there are three questions we have to ask ourselves as a nation.  Number one:  How do we make America a magnet for good jobs in this competitive 21st century economy?  Number two:  How do we make sure that our workers earn the skills and education they need to do those jobs?  And number three:  How do we make sure those jobs actually pay a decent wage or salary, so that people can save for retirement, send their kids to college?   Those are the questions we’ve got to be asking ourselves every single day.  So we’re here today to talk about that second question.  How do we make sure our workers earn the skills and education they need to do the jobs that companies are hiring for right now, and are going to keep hiring for in the future?  We know that the surest path to the middle class is some form of higher education -- a four-year degree, a community college degree, an advanced degree.  You’re going to need more than just a high school education to succeed in this economy.    And the young people here today, they get that.  They’re working through college; maybe just graduated.  And earning their degree isn’t just the best investment that they can make for their future -- it’s the best investment that they can make in America’s future.    But like a lot of young people all across the country, these students have had to take on more and more and more debt to pay for this investment.  Since most of today’s college students were born, tuition and fees at public universities have more than doubled.  And these days, the average stud


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