President Obama released his proposed budget for 2013 yesterday, kicking off months of wrangling in Congress over funding the Federal Government. Whether or not the Administration’s ideas makes their way into law, it’s worth noting how they would affect our generation. In general, the President would take steps to make higher education more affordable and spur job creation.
First, the budget proposes several initiatives to stem rising college tuition. This is a welcome emphasis for young Americans given that 9 in 10 of us rate making higher education affordable as a top concern. The key pieces of the plan include:
- Stops Student Loan Interest Rates from Doubling: Allocates funds to prevent Federal Stafford Loan interests rates from doubling in July to 6.8%.
- Fully Funds Maximum Federal Pell Grant at $5,635: Supports a scheduled cost-of-living-increase for nearly 10 million students.
- Creates Race to the Top for College Affordability and Completion: A grant program the incentivizes states to hold tuition down while raising completion rates.
- Incentives for College Completion: Increases funding for Federal Perkins loans and the Federal Work Study program, but ties money to schools’ ability to graduate low-income students.
The President’s plan also increases investments in America’s education and training programs. Right now, millions of jobs remain open around the country despite the high unemployment rates because workers lack the required skills. To address this, the budget includes:
- Pathways back to work fund: Allocates $12 billion to support summer and year-round jobs for disadvantaged youth, subsidized jobs for low-income adults, and programs to reconnect long-term unemployed individuals to the workforce.
- Investing in Community Colleges: Creates an $8 billion fund to promote partnerships between community colleges and businesses at the local level.
Finally, the President proposes to spend $50 billion on highway, transit, rail, airport, and the air traffic control systems (with significnat increases in the years ahead) to create jobs and upgrade the Nation’s infrastructure.
Though the proposal offers initiatives that would give young people a boost, we will need some serious ladders to climb out of the hole of the Great Recession. With youth unemployment rates persisting at nearly twice the national average, our generation will feel the effects in lower wages for years to come. Though the President promises to hold Stafford Loan interest rates and Pell Grants in place next year, and create new incentives for college pricing, tuition continues to rise several times faster than inflation. We need bigger reforms. That’s why Young Invincibles is launching the Campaign for Young America this Spring to encourage young Americans to share their ideas about how to ensure a bright future for us and our country.
Do you have things you would like to see in this year’s budget? Feel free to leave your own thoughts in the comments. You can also view our statement following the release of President Obama’s budget.