January 27, 2012
"All students should have a fair shot at world-class higher education without being saddled with huge debt before they begin their careers."
Statement by AFT President Randi Weingarten
On President Obama's Financial Aid Overhaul Plan
In a speech at the University of Michigan, President Obama called for an overhaul of the higher education financial aid system and warned that colleges and universities that fail to control tuition costs risk losing federal funds.
WASHINGTON— President Obama is right: Higher education should not be a luxury. All students should have a fair shot at world-class higher education without being saddled with huge debt before they begin their careers. That's why we strongly support the president's commitment to student aid, particularly his pledge to protect Pell Grants, keep interest rates reasonable on student loans, shore up income-based repayment programs and extend the American Opportunity Tax Credit.
Despite the tough economy, colleges, universities and technical schools must be adequately funded to ensure all students can compete in the global economy. According to the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, hundreds of millions of dollars in funding cuts, combined with increasing student enrollments, pushed per-student funding in 2011 to a 30-year low. We want to work with the administration to ensure that, before any cuts to already limited needs-based aid are contemplated—reductions that could hurt the neediest students—we are certain that states are fulfilling their responsibility to adequately fund higher education.
Any effort to incentivize cost savings and efficiency through a competitive, Race to the Top-style program should not come at the expense of a high-quality education. That's why we need to make sure frontline educators are part of a collaborative effort to provide an accessible, affordable high-quality college education for all students.
Follow AFT President Randi Weingarten: http://twitter.com/rweingarten
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The AFT represents 1.5 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.