Following the defeat by Senate Republicans of a bill that would have prevented student loan interest rates from doubling July 1, Vice President Biden addressed students and representatives from higher education and youth-service organizations about the importance of keeping college affordable and accessible. His remarks were preceded by a panel discussion with policy experts from the Domestic Policy Council, the Department of Education and the White House Office of Legislative Affairs.
This morning, Biden talked about how it is a “gigantic priority” for the President and his administration to make higher education affordable and to prevent interest loans from doubling on July 1 of this year.
He began by expressing how much he and the President appreciate people for participating in “this critical debate.” He called making higher education affordable his passion and his hobbyhorse, saying that the first bill he ever introduced helped more people qualify for Stafford loans.
He then talked about his “typical middle class life” growing up and how his dad was so ashamed when he couldn’t get a loan to send his son to college.
“Millions of your moms and dads—millions of people you know—have had their pride stripped from them,” Biden said.
A few accomplishments under the Obama administration related to higher education include increasing the numbers of people eligible for Pell Grants from six million to nine million kids in two years and helping families by providing a tax credit for every kid in school. He said they are fighting to extend the tax credit, and they want to double the number of work-study jobs available to students.
There is no higher priority than us becoming the best-educated country in the world, he said, after expressing bafflement that people couldn’t agree on this.
“This is about restoring the dream of the middle class for which the whole country benefits,” he said. “With your help, I’m confident we’re going to be able to keep interest rates from doubling. We need you very badly.”
To help, he asked people to make a commitment to redouble their efforts, to call or email members of Congress, to tweet with the hashtag #DontDoubleMyRate and to not give up until Congress sends the President a bill that doesn’t double interest rates and cost students over $1,000 more per year.
“You’re an incredible generation,” he said. “The most incredible group we’ve ever produced.”
He then reiterated the importance of college affordability to becoming a better nation.