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Choose Obama

BY GUEST OPINION | APRIL 13, 2012 6:30 AM

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In 2008, we fought to get then-Sen. Barack Obama elected so he could bring a responsible end to the war in Iraq, provide affordable health care to millions of Americans, cuts taxes and deliver economic security for the middle class, and make college more affordable for young Americans.

On all counts, he has delivered.

But we know there is much work to be done. We know in this election we have a very stark choice. Obama brought us back from the brink of economic disaster, brought our troops home from Iraq, and grown the economy that was once shrinking.

Former Gov. Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, would undo all the progress we have made and bring back the same policies that put us in the deepest economic hole since before many of our grandparents were born.

Students know as well as anyone that we need to be out-educating other countries now so we can continue to out-compete them in the future. In Obama, we have someone in the White House who fights for us day in and day out.

In just three years, Obama has made huge progress that is helping student and young Americans right now. The president helped us pay for college by doubling Pell Grants and expanding them to 3 million more students. He helped eliminate the middlemen from the college-loan program, taking away billions of taxpayer dollars that were going to the banks instead of students and giving that support directly to us.

Obama also created and extended tax credits worth as much as $10,000 over four years of school. This helped an estimated 9.4 million students and families in 2011, including 78,000 in Iowa.

The president reformed student loans to make it easier for students to pay back federal college loans. Starting in 2014, new borrowers will never pay more than 10 percent of their disposable income, and Obama proposed accelerating this benefit to current students. The law allows any remaining debt to be forgiven after twenty years.

For people in public-service — teachers, nurses, or members of the armed forces — the remaining debt will be forgiven after 10 years if they make their payments on time.

"It would be popular for me to stand up and say I'm going to give you government money to pay for your college, but I'm not going to promise that. Don't just go to one that has the highest price. Go to one that has a little lower price where you can get a good education. And hopefully, you'll find that. And don't expect the government to forgive the debt that you take on," Romney recently told a student at an event.

This response shouldn't come as a surprise. When Romney was governor of Massachusetts, the average public university costs soared from $9,000 a year to more than $15,000 a year.

Iowa ranks third in the country in average tuition debt: $29,598 per student. Nearly three out of four Iowa students graduate with debt, the fourth-worst rate in the country. Graduating is hard — you're faced with finding a job and a career while trying to figure out how to make it on your own.

Now is not the time to ask students to take on more debt.

For many young Americans, this election will be the first time we vote. November is almost here, and this upcoming election is so important. Don't miss this opportunity to shape the future of the America that you will inherit: An America that will see a continually brighter day with Obama as president for four more years.

John Rigby
UI alumnus


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