It's not every day that you get to see a President, let alone ask him a question. But that was the case at Binghamton University Friday as President Barack Obama took part in a Town Hall event on campus. Our Melissa Kakareka was there to hear his message.
VESTAL, N.Y. -- Ivanna Smith was happy just to get a ticket to the Binghamton University Town Hall with President Obama. She didn't expect to ask a question. But when President Obama called on her, she had a chance to ask about cuts to Head Start programs.
"The opportunity to speak to the President was a great opportunity. I was very nervous up there asking my question up there about Head Start," said graduate student Ivanna Smith.
The President fielded a variety of questions from Binghamton University faculty and staff, touching on everything from funding for a green economy to providing ladders of opportunity for underprivileged students. But the main reason he was in town was to talk about his plan to make education more affordable.
President Obama said, "At the time when higher education has never been more important, and when I say higher education, I mean two year, four year, technical colleges, it doesn’t all have to be four year, traditional bachelor of arts or sciences, at a time when that's never been more important, college has never been more expensive."
The President wants to create a new system that rates colleges based upon how well they are providing value. He also wants to encourage states and colleges to think of innovative ways to reduce costs. And he wants to expand a program that's already in place which caps monthly payments on student loans to 10 percent of a student's income.
The President said, "There’s going to have to be a broad-based conversation, but part of our goal here is to stir a conversation because the current path that we’re on is unsustainable. And it’s my basic belief, and I suspect the belief of most people here, higher education shouldn’t be a luxury. It’s an economic necessity in this knowledge based economy. And we want to make sure that every family in America can afford it."
President Obama says he chose BU because of the example it's setting and the work it's doing providing affordable and quality education. BU President Harvey Stenger says he believes the President is on the right track with the proposals he laid out at the event.
"Taking it from concept to legislation is the hard part, and that's really why I said, what we can, we do to help you in the process," said Harvey Stenger.
After shaking hands with students and staff at Binghamton University, the President continued south to Scranton, Pennsylvania to continue spreading his message on college affordability.
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