February 1, 2015

President Obama Is fighting for Affordable College

Fighting for Affordable College: President Obama Stands With Our Students

President Obama is challenging Congress to take action. If it doesn’t, 7.4 million students with federal student loans will see their interest rates double on July 1. This means that the average student with these loans will rack up an additional $1,000 for every year Congress does not act.
This will have particularly grave repercussions here in Texas, where tuition has skyrocketed because of legislation supported and signed by Governor Perry: the average cost for 15 hours at our public universities has risen more than 70% since 2003 (I have been filing legislation to reverse these policies ever since). Despite the increasingly high cost of education, however, a college degree is still a crucial component of success, especially in today’s economy. In Texas, the unemployment rate for those with a bachelor’s degree is 3.9%, whereas the rate for those who only finished high school is 9.3%. It is clear that there is a direct link between a college education and your ability to find a job. Therefore we should be making it easier, not harder, for our children to go to college.
The negative effect of the rate hike will be magnified for populations of color. It is already hard enough for many people of color to go to college, and this is reflected in the extremely high unemployment rates for Blacks (13.5%) and Latinos (8.9%). As you can see, these numbers are much higher than the 3.9% unemployment rate for those with a bachelor’s degree. This, however, doesn’t even tell the entire story. In Texas, over 20% of Blacks are underemployed, and over 17% of Hispanics are underemployed. The data could not be any clearer: if you don’t get a college degree, your chances of landing a decent job plummet. (We are currently doing more research on gender, ethnicity, and educational attainment that will further show just how important it is for more people of color to start going to college.)
The education and resulting employment numbers for people of color in this state are downright sobering, and it is imperative that we turn this around. This a majority-minority state, and almost 90% of the state’s population growth over the last decade has been non-Anglo. The future success of Texas depends on the future success of populations of color. Nevertheless, our leaders are sitting on their hands as these populations lag behind in education and good jobs. Affordable student loans help bridge the education and employment gaps present among populations of color, so doubling the interest rate would be devastating for these efforts.
We often hear from the other side that "not everyone needs to go to college," but I notice that this is always said by people who are sending their own kids to college. It seems to be the "other" people’s children who shouldn’t get to go to college. We can’t allow them to tell us that our children are not good enough. Everyone deserves a college education, and I will not stand by and watch silently as the demographics in our universities continue to be so different from the demographics in our state.
We should stand with President Obama in the fight for more Americans getting a college education.

This e-mail was not sent at state expense.


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