Obama: Post-secondary education necessary

March 10, 2009 at 4:53 PM

WASHINGTON, March 10 (UPI) -- Post-secondary education is no longer a luxury, it's a necessity in a 21st century business environment, U.S. President Barack Obama said Tuesday.

"Never has a college degree been more important. Never has it been more expensive," Obama said during a speech before the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Washington.

One way the administration can help make post-secondary education more accessible is by simplifying federal college assistance forms "so it doesn't take a Ph.D. to apply for financial aid," he said to a round of applause.

Other changes to higher education financing include increasing the maximum Pell grant to $5,550 a year and indexing it to inflation; providing a $2,500-a-year tuition tax credit for students from working families, and expanding the Perkins Loan Program, which provides low interest loans to help needy students finance the costs of post-secondary education.

"All in all, we are making college affordable for 7 million more students with a sweeping investment in our children's futures and America's success," she said.

Recognizing that learning doesn't end when people are in their early 20s, Obama said educators and the administration needed to work with colleges, university and other post-secondary institutions to prepare workers of any age for employment in high-growth industries.

"It's through initiatives like these that we'll see more Americans earn a college degree, or receive advanced training, and pursue a successful career," he said, urging Congress to reauthorize the Workforce Reinvestment Act. "That's how we will round out a complete and competitive education in the United States of America."

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