In his State of the Union address, Vice President Joe Biden spoke out against the “financial education revolution” that has seen students at many private schools struggle to get a diploma.
“In the past decade, hundreds of thousands of students from every corner of our country have lost their chance to earn a high-school diploma because they can’t afford to pay for it,” Biden said.
“We’ve created a crisis of choice that has left millions of Americans unable to choose where to live, to go to school, to earn their diploma.
The results of this financial education reform have been devastating.”
Biden added that the reforms have led to a “disparate impact” on lower-income students and “made it easier for our wealthiest and most privileged kids to afford college.”
The Vice President’s remarks were echoed by Education Secretary Tom Perez, who said during his confirmation hearing last week that the “dispute of choice” in higher education was a “fundamental problem.”
In his speech, Biden echoed Perez’s sentiments, noting that while the country is “at war” against ISIS, “the root cause of our challenges is a lack of access to higher education for every American.”
He said that the federal government has “taken bold steps to ensure that students across America can afford the education that is right for them and that they can succeed.”
The Education Department has also launched the Federal Financial Aid Loan for College Access Initiative, which offers federal loans for private, non-profit, faith-based colleges.
Biden also called on Congress to enact a bill that would provide more loans for students to pay tuition and fees.
“The $7.5 trillion federal loan program is not just broken, it’s unsustainable,” Biden wrote.
“Congress should support this effort and make it permanent, and give colleges and universities more power to provide affordable college for students who are most in need.”
Biden also urged Congress to “make a big investment in our nation’s infrastructure,” including infrastructure projects that can provide jobs and investment.
“Building America’s infrastructure will ensure the safety of our roads, bridges, water and sewer systems, airports, and more,” Biden continued.
“To rebuild our infrastructure, we need to invest in the people who build it.
We need to build our bridges and roads, we have to get the pipelines built, and we need infrastructure that works for the many people who depend on it.”