OC Register: Local College Students on Obama’s Ideas on Higher Ed


Last week, the OC Register’s College Life blogger, Gary Robbins asked students to comment on Obama’s plans for higher education.  The article (posted below) includes Student Regent Designate, Jesse Cheng’s opinion:

College students support Obama’s ideas

January 27th, 2010, 7:04 pm · 23 Comments · posted by Gary Robbins, science writer-editor

chengJesse Cheng, an Asian American studies student at UCI, and the incoming student representative to the UC Board of Regents. Photo by Daniel Anderson, UCI.

President Obama called in his State of the Union address Wednesday night for a revitalization of the nation’s community colleges, cheaper loans for college students, and a plan to require students who have graduated to pay only 10 percent of their income on their debt load.

We asked several Orange County college students to watch the speech and see what the President would say on these and other issues. Here’s a sample of their reaction, received via email.

Jesse Cheng, a UC Irvine student Asian-American studies student who will become the student representative to the Board of Regents this summer, said:

“I definitely think the President is right to focus on the number of college graduates (the) U.S. is producing – the State of California is going to be short by a million educated people in our workforce only in a number of years.

“Also, as a Student Regent, I can say that the President’s economic recovery funds have really saved the UC in the past year, but we won’t have that money coming in the future.

“Being in college, what really worries me are the lack of funds in our system – our universities are not being given the needed monies from the state and federal government to continue running. We’re losing professors, which means students don’t have enough teachers or classes to be educated, and become a competent workforce and innovators for the future. I’m really listening for President Obama to speak towards how the federal government is going to help pressure states and his own budget to help fund these Universities – otherwise, even with less tuition, we’re not going to have a quality educated future to keep America going.”

ivanIvan Contreras

Ivan Contreras, a senior at Chapman University, who is majoring in English and French, said:

1. The fact that President Obama wants to create a $10,000 tax credit and increase Pell Grants for four years of higher education, I think, will encourage parents and students to pursue a university degree more seriously. Sometimes, the cost alone can deter one away from continuing after high school.

2. I have some student loans … and as President Obama said, I didn’t go to college to become broke after graduation. Repaying only 10 percent of my future income towards loans, and having those loans forgiven after 10 or 20 years, is one less worry. I won’t be preoccupied with the struggle of loan repayment, and I’ll be able to focus on my career and future.

George Allen, a junior at Concordia University Irvine who majors in theology, said:

georgeallen-copy1George Allen, Concordia University Irvine

“President Obama rightly identified “world class education” as the best anti-poverty program our government can invest in. His promises to revitalize our community colleges and make higher education more affordable – through increased grants, tax cuts for families financing four years of college, and debt forgiveness initiatives – will surely open wider the paths to more sustaining career options. The cost of higher education can never be too high for the government; it can be too high for working families.”

We also heard from Cindia Velasco, a Cal State Fullerton student who campaigned for Obama , and who will be heading to Chicago this summer to join the Teach for America program. Velasco said, “Last year, President Barack Obama made a pledge to help students attain a higher education. He said that education was a pre-requisite for every American and the best anti-poverty program for this country. He wanted Americans to commit to at least one year or more of college in order to be able to compete in a changing global economy. He said that in order for all Americans to attain a higher education, all lawmakers had to work together in order to make college more affordable. In tonight’s State of the Union Address, President Obama admitted that change has not come fast enough. He made no mention of what his administration has already done for higher education; he only spoke of his hope for the future.

washCindia Velasco

Tonight, President Obama told Congress that he hoped that they would pass a bill to revitalize community colleges, and one that would increase Pell grants for students. He mentioned a $10,000 tax credit for families to make college more affordable and a loan forgiveness program for graduates after 20 years of re-payment; 10 for those with a career in public service. After viewing tonight’s State of the Union Address, it is clear President Obama is focusing on rebuilding the economy and restructuring America’s healthcare system, but he cannot forget about higher education. We cannot compete in a changing global economy without investing in our education system. Education may very well be the solution to our economical problems in America.

We also heard from Peter Karuppiah, a student at Soka University in Aliso Viejo, who said:

peterkaruppiah-2-copySoka’s Peter Karuppiah

“What can I say? Of course I agree that making college more affordable is necessary and I’m happy to see that President Obama is committed to promoting higher education by proposing reforms that will help more people either attend school or finish it. My university (Soka University of America) has been very supportive and has worked to help as many students as possible but I still have friends, both here and attending other universities, that are struggling to pay their college tuition and the living expenses that come with being a student. Many people are either looking to take part-time jobs while being a full-time student or are facing serious issues at home. Just like President Obama though, I can only hope that our elected representatives realize that working together is the only way to create lasting solutions and value for everyone.”

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3 responses to “OC Register: Local College Students on Obama’s Ideas on Higher Ed

  1. My concern with the comments in this article is that the majority lack a critical perspective. Of course, the few comments here do not reflect the sentiment of all college students. While the president attempts to appease college students, he made no promises, it will be interesting to see if his proposal is at all implemented. Further, his plan does not address real problems within state universities across the nation, one being the problem of privatization. He focuses on making it more affordable with cheaper loans, which is nice, but if education is supposed to be the “great equalizer” in American society, why then, isn’t access a larger issue? The president, preoccupied with wars and the health care compromise does not have an answer for these questions.

  2. I agree that making college more affordable..They’re helpful for the many students and their families who have difficulty affording college and [who are] faced with a real dilemma when [it comes to] paying these loans,” says Peter Mazareas, vice chairman of the College Savings Foundation, a nonprofit focused on college savings strategies.

  3. Where’s thye money? Words are cheap. Actions $ show commitment

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