In his State of the Union address, President Obama discussed three issues of particular interest to universities: basic research, college costs and the DREAM Act.
Basic Research. During his speech, the President also reiterated his support for maintaining the federal investment in research, “Innovation also demands basic research. Today, the discoveries taking place in our federally financed labs and universities could lead to new treatments that kill cancer cells but leave healthy ones untouched. New lightweight vests for cops and soldiers that can stop any bullet. Don’t gut these investments in our budget. Don’t let other countries win the race for the future. Support the same kind of research and innovation that led to the computer chip and the Internet; to new American jobs and new American industries.” There were also a few remarks made regarding federal investments in renewable energy sources, as well as the importance of medical research.
College Costs: During the SOTU, the President put the nation’s colleges and universities “on notice” that the government could not continue to “subsidize skyrocketing tuition.” He urged state governments to elevate higher education in their budget priorities and called on Congress to double the number of work-study jobs over five years, permanently extend the American Opportunity Task Credit, and prevent interest rates on subsidized federal student loans from rising from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on July 1, as scheduled. A follow up blog post will be made to delve into greater details of this initiative.
DREAM Act: The President also touched on the DREAM Act, noting that Congress should approve legislation to allow young people brought to this country illegally at a young age to qualify for in-state tuition after attending high school (the DREAM Act) and to allow foreign students who earn college degrees in business and STEM fields to remain in the U.S. for work.