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Biden asks governors to help raise college graduation rates

Obama Administration Graduation Plans

Vice President Joe Biden today issued a call to action to the nation’s governors to raise college graduation rates in the U.S. President Obama recently set a lofty goal for America to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020.

In an address to the first annual Building a Grad Nation Summit, Biden – chairman of the Middle Class Task Force – called on all 50 governors to host a state college completion summit in their home states. He also  distributed a new college completion tool kit for states and governors, and announced a grant competition aimed at assisting institutions of higher education in improving completion rates.

The Obama administration has said repeatedly that it intends to improve the accessibility and affordability of higher education in this country. Since Obama’s election, the administration says it has boosted Pell grant funding, the free need-based government aid offered to the lowest-income college students, by more than $40 billion. Support for higher education has also come in the form of increased tax incentives for higher education through the American Opportunity Tax credit. Other programs designed to help get more people into college—and through college—include: a simplified Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which is supposed to make it easier for students to apply for grants and loans; “common-sense” student loan repayment options in the form of the Income-Based Repayment program; and a program that erases the debt of students who dedicate 10 years to public service after completion of their degrees.

“Right now we’ve got an education system that works like a funnel when we need it to work like a pipeline,” said Vice President Biden in his summit address. “We have to make the same commitment to getting folks across the graduation stage that we did to getting them into the registrar’s office. The dreams and skills of our college graduates will pave the way to a bright economic future for our nation.”

In order to meet President Obama’s 2020 goal, the number of American college graduates will have to increase by 50 percent, which means at least 8 million additional graduates need to receive their degrees by the end of the decade.