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Column: Obama, Invest In Higher Education

This story was written by Our Opinion, The Daily Campus


Congratulations, Sen. Obama. After the longest, most expensive presidential campaign ever, it's finally over; you are the next Commander-in-Chief.

Now what?

In the two-and-a-half months you have to build a cabinet and create your legislative agenda, we ask you to keep higher education in mind. You once said, "An investment in higher education is an investment in the future of this country." We ask you to make that investment.

College today is more expensive than ever, with tuition prices easily outpacing the current rate of inflation. This is problematic for many reasons, not the least of which is that more and more students are finding that they cannot afford college. We ask that you increase the number of resources available to college-aged students, so those who have worked hard can receive an education, regardless of their income.

At the same time, we ask that you increase the number of Pell Grants available, so that students don't emerge from college with a degree and thousands of dollars in debt. Along this same line, something must be done to regulate student loan lenders, so that the students who do receive loans can have longer amounts of time to pay them back and still maintain lower interest rates.

Beyond this, as the next president you must do something to stop the rapid increase of tuition prices. At the very least, something must be done to keep public universities affordable, either through the use of federal funding or a cap on annual in-state tuition increases. There needs to be more recognition that, while college is not for everyone, every member of the world's leading industrialized nation needs some job skills - this means that the government must provide funding for more technical and vocational schools where students can receive vital training in a variety of professions.

Finally, internationally we are getting beaten in the sciences. A concerted effort must be made to get young children interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics so that more students will go on to study in these areas once they reach college age. At the same time, we face an enormous internal shortage of teachers. Debt forgiveness programs for teachers must be created so that there is increased incentive to teach after college.

In the next four years of your presidency, the world will change drastically. However, we ask that you remember higher education as you create your agenda. Put differently, please consider that an investment in today's college freshmen will reap you immense rewards by the end of your first term as president.

Congratulations on winning the election.

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