Staff editorial: Bang for your buck

Higher education was one of the many important topics President Barack Obama addressed during last Tuesday's State of the Union. For college students, who are constantly bombarded with tuition increases, it was a relief to see the president take a stand for affordable higher education. "Through tax credits, grants and better loans, we have made college more affordable for millions of students and families over the last few years," said Obama in his speech.

"But taxpayers cannot continue to subsidize the soaring cost of higher education." he said. "Colleges must do their part to keep costs down, and it’s our job to make sure they do."

Obama proposed that Congress change the Higher Education Act, which is due for revision this year, and to add greater stipulations that will determine which colleges receive certain types of federal aid. "Now, even with better high schools, most young people will need some higher education," he said. "But today, skyrocketing costs place way too many young people out of a higher education, or saddle them with unsustainable debt."

In addition to these stipulations, Obama's administration released the College Scorecard, which is an online, interactive tool (similar to College Prowler) that can be used to compare schools based on areas of interest and monetary value.

The College Scorecard website lists Santa Monica College as having comparatively low costs, which is a good rating considering most community colleges nationwide cost more than California community colleges. Though SMC has a low net price, according to the College Scorecard, the loan default rate is slightly higher than the national rate, meaning students are still struggling to make payments on their loans — even at a community college.

However, acquiring a higher education degree will prove to be rewarding when entering the work force and competing for a good job. As Obama simplified it, "the more education you have, the more likely you are to have a job and work your way into the middle class."

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