First 100 Days: How President Biden is addressing the needs of college students

A student’s perspective to the administration expanding college access and financial resources

Tomorrow marks President Biden’s first 100 days in the Oval Office – the time-honored, yet somewhat arbitrary, milestone the public seizes as an opportune time to scrutinize every aspect of a new president’s performance so far.

So, in keeping with tradition, it’s time to analyze how the President is addressing the unique challenges college-aged students in America face today.

President Biden will be giving his first joint address before Congress tonight – a baby State of the Union, if you will – to trumpet his achievements and discuss his legislative agenda moving forward. As the oldest President ever inaugurated, it’s ironic that his first 100 days holds such promise to the country’s college students, and tonight’s address offers an especially impressive look at why.

According to a statement released by the White House this morning, the President is expected to explain the American Families Plan which, in short, is a $1.8 trillion plan that expands access to education for college students by enacting the following provisions:

  1. Establishes at least four years of free education: The Plan cites how growing research indicates 12 years of education is not long enough to adequately prepare students for today’s economy, and it is essential to provide all students the opportunity to attain a post-secondary degree.
  2. Expands access to low- and middle-income students: Invests $46 billion in making college an affordable option for all, including students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and institutions such as Hispanic-serving institutions, Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institutions, and other minority-serving institutions (MSIs), according to the statement.
  3. Adds $80 billion investment in Pell Grants: Creates more grants to aid students seeking a certificate or a two- or four-year degree.
  4. Invests $62 billion to improve completion and retention rates: Implements a program to find ways to strengthen completion and retention rates at community colleges and institutions that serve students from disadvantaged communities.
  5. Allocates $9 billion to high school educators: Aims to equip, train, and diversify high school educators to give them the skillset to best prepare students for a post-secondary education.

The lofty goals to expand college access under the American Families Plan are the latest policies to reimagine the college experience crafted by a president who campaigned on making post-secondary education affordable and accessible to all.

Reversing the controversial Trump-era policy (and if you’re wondering, President Biden reversed 62 of his predecessor’s policies in his first 100 days), the President announced in March he will cancel $1 billion in student debt for defrauded borrowers. That means total loan forgiveness to approximately 73,000 students previously ineligible for total relief under the previous administration.

President Biden’s commitment to serving the needs of college students has been consistent from the beginning. Staying true to his campaign promises, on January 20 President Biden sent a request to the Department of Education to extend the pause on federal student loan payments through September of 2021 given the circumstances of the pandemic.

In his first 100 days, President Biden has been shockingly progressive in his policy-making, taking action on other issues that predominantly impact young people, such as universal child care and preschool education.

President Biden may have a long way to go to get us through these reality-challenged times, but his efforts to expand college access are promising. Keep at it, Mr. President – we look forward to tweeting about your address tonight.

President Biden’s joint address tonight will be at 6 p.m. PST and available to stream on C-SPAN.