Dr. Jill Biden on Good News for Higher Education
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Dr. Jill Biden on Good News for Higher Education

Dr. Jill Biden:
As a parent and
a lifelong teacher, I know how daunting it can be to plan
for your children’s college education. Joe and I put three kids through
college and graduate school – in fact, our daughter will finish her
Master’s degree program this spring. So I know first-hand how much
work goes into the application and financial aid process. As a community
college instructor, I also see how my students and
their families struggle to afford tuition and
other expenses. Today, college tuition is growing
faster than family income. Additional fees for room and
board and for textbooks can strain many family budgets
beyond their limits. We all know that higher
education is essential to our children’s success, and no
family should have to take on crushing debt to put their
kids through college. That’s why this Administration
is committed to making higher education more affordable. The Health Care and Education
Reconciliation Act takes several steps to make planning
for college easier. First, the new law invests more
than $40 billion in Pell Grants. And, going forward, these awards
will increase over time to help keep pace with the
rising cost of college. By 2017, we expect to raise the
maximum Pell award to almost $6,000. And these are grants – not loans
– so they don’t add to student debt for qualifying families. To qualify for Pell Grants and
low-interest student loans, fill out the Free Application
for Federal Student Aid – commonly referred to as FAFSA. We have simplified the FAFSA
to make it easier to apply for federal financial aid. In addition, once your
child enrolls in college, you may be able to use a
tax credit of up to $10,000 for four years of tuition and
related expenses, including books. It’s called the American
Opportunity Tax Credit. This credit triples the amount you
can deduct from your taxes for college. The new law also makes student
loans more manageable. Beginning in 2014, students can
limit their payments to 10% of their income, with any remaining
balance forgiven after 20 years. As a lifelong teacher, I am
particularly pleased that the bill helps those who choose
public service careers. Graduates who work
as teachers, nurses, or in other public service
professions – and those who serve in the military – can have
their loans forgiven after 10 years. These are all major steps
forward to help American families. I encourage all of you to plan
for your child’s education now – there is no greater gift we
can give our children than the opportunity to learn. For those of you with
children already in college, be on the lookout for increased
benefits and take advantage of those that are already
available to you. In the meantime, the Administration
will continue to do what it can to increase college affordability. For more information on these federal
student aid programs, please go to www.whitehouse.gov/StudentAid Thank you!

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