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President Obama has established a goal to again lead the world with the highest proportion of college graduates by 2020. To reach this 2020 goal:

• America must raise its college completion rate from 40 to 60 percent and provide college pathways for more than 11 million young people to enter and graduate from America’s colleges and universities, beyond the 17 million who have a college degree today.

• Given the current rate of college completion and projected population growth, it is estimated that approximately 3 million more young people will graduate from college over the next ten years, leaving a gap of 8 million students that are needed to reach the President’s 2020 goal.

• The Obama Administration has called for an all-hands-on deck approach by higher education leaders, public and private stakeholders, parents, and students to help raise college graduation rates and increase the number of students entering and successfully completing degrees at America’s community colleges and four-year colleges and universities.

Pell Grants

Pell Grants are the main source of federal aid for low-income students. Thirty-six percent of bachelor’s degree recipients use Pell Grants to help them pay for at least one year of college. Pell Grants play an essential role in helping adults return to college to improve their job skills and qualifications. Of the recipients, almost half are age 24 or older.  Pell Grants are also especially important in rural areas. The Rural Community College Alliance has described the increase in Pell as “the single most important federal action” to increase college access in rural America.

For decades, the federal government has subsidized private banks that provided student loans.  The Obama administration eliminated the subsidy to banks and now makes all loans directly to students, saving $68 billion over the next seven years.  The savings help pay for new Pell Grants and other programs to boost college completion and support community colleges to meet President Obama’s 2020 college completion goal.

Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the fiscal 2010 budget, and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, funding for Pell Grants has increased by more than $40 billion. In the last two years, the maximum grant increased from $4,241 to $5,550 for FY2010. It will increase to $6,110 by 2017.

Student Loans

From the 2007-08 academic year to the 2009-10 academic year, the number of student loans increased by 36 percent – from 15 million to 20.4 million. All across America, people are benefitting from the administration's historic investment in higher education.

Marvin became a barber in Oakland, CA after graduating from high school 10 years ago. He returned to a community college and, with the help of a Pell grant, he transferred to UC Berkeley to study law on a full scholarship.

After graduating with an M.B.A. from Xavier University, Meg worked in the private sector in San Francisco for six years, but decided to pursue a public service career after experiencing the impact of the economic downturn of the dot-com era. Graduating in May 2009 with an M.S.W. from Columbia University School of Social Work, she has been employed as a Program


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