President Obama’s State of the Union address again demonstrates his commitment to broad access to higher education, a commitment that has been a top priority for his administration since the beginning of his presidency. We are grateful for all he has done to enable many Americans who seek higher education and postsecondary training to realize their educational and career aspirations.
The State of the Union address outlined two important higher education initiatives, both of which merit serious consideration and careful attention by Congress.
First, the president proposed to consolidate and simplify multiple educational tax benefits into a permanent and better-targeted American Opportunity Tax Credit. We strongly support this proposal because, in addition to eliminating confusion and uncertainty, it would reach lower-income families who are most in need of help.
Second, he addressed his initiative for partnering with states for two tuition-free years at community colleges for all students, an affordability message that will resonate with many Americans. This proposal is a landmark policy shift because it demonstrates an understanding that affordability is the unique responsibility of public institutions. Equally noteworthy is the recognition that affordable public higher education requires a coordinated fiscal partnership between the federal government and the states. There are important details in the proposal that the administration will have to work through with Congress. We stand ready to assist them in this effort.
The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) is a Washington, D.C.-based higher education association of more than 400 public colleges, universities, and systems whose members share a learning- and teaching-centered culture, a historic commitment to underserved student populations, and a dedication to research and creativity that advances their regions’ economic progress and cultural development.