Obama Reaffirms Support for Community Colleges at Signing of Student-Loan Bill
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Posted by: Matthew Montoya
By Andrea Fuller
President Obama signed legislation last week that ends the bank-based lending system for student loans and pours tens of billions of federal dollars into higher education.At the signing ceremony, which was held here at Northern Virginia Community College, the president also announced that Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and an English instructor at the college, will lead a community-college summit at the White House this fall.
The president thrust community colleges into the limelight last summer when he called on them to produce five million more graduates by 2020 and proposed a $12-billion plan to improve and expand the institutions. But the student-loan bill provides just a portion of the money Mr. Obama had sought.The legislation, which also overhauls the nation's health-care system, uses the savings from ending subsidies to private student lenders to provide about $43-billion over 10 years for spending on education. Most of that money, about $36-billion, will go to the Pell Grant program for low-income students.
Other beneficiaries, in addition to community colleges, include minority-serving institutions and a grant program to improve college access and completion.President Obama called the student-lending overhaul "one of the most significant investments in higher education since the GI Bill." He criticized the banked-based lending system, calling it a "sweetheart deal," and condemned loan companies such as Sallie Mae that spent millions of dollars on "armies of lobbyists" to fight the bill."We need to invest that money in our students," the president said. "We need to invest in our community colleges, we need to invest in the future of this country."In announcing the White House meeting on community colleges, Mr. Obama called those institutions "one of the great undervalued assets in our education system."