This week, the president will visit with some of his most important constituents -- young people. These voters are looking at issues like education reform, the current job market and the economic recovery efforts. As President Obama and students across this country know, the clock is ticking because unless Congress acts, interest rates for new subsidized student loans are set to increase on July 1. Speaking for my fellow students, we can't afford for this to happen. Fortunately for this group -- American college students -- the president is a strong advocate on our behalf.
As a senior at the University of Texas in Austin, the state's largest research university, I have seen the power of a publicly funded education system firsthand. The president has doubled our investments in Pell Grants and has worked to reform the student loan programs supported by the Department of Education making higher education a possibility for first generation college students.
Both President Obama and the first lady have felt the heavy burden of student loans and worked hard to pay them off; the president's decision to cut out big banks, who he recognized were unnecessary middlemen, saved over $60 billion that is now helping other students afford college. He's also providing more student debt forgiveness; instead of making payments for 25 years, responsible Americans will have their student loans forgiven after 20 years. President Obama believes that Americans should get a fair shot at an affordable college education and his strong record proves that.
On the other hand Mitt Romney and Republicans have embraced policies like the Romney-Ryan budget, which would let student loan interest rates double and force more than 7 million students to pay more than $1,000 in costs over the life of their loans. Romney would also let the college tax credit, which provides relief to more than 9 million hardworking families, expire. Not to mention Romney's closed door talks with donors that he may get rid of most of the Department of Education, which would affect quality public education and impact millions of students and their families. That any serious contender for the presidency would consider gutting such an integral part of the American experience is simply unacceptable. Unlike Mitt Romney, President Obama is dedicated to ensuring a quality learning experience for every young American that seeks one.
I, along with millions of young people, will return to the polls this November to cast a vote in favor of the candidate who believes in an America where education is paramount. A president that understands that knowledge is not a luxury and is key to building an economy built to last. On Election Day 2012 my generation will have its voice heard loud and clear: we want to continue the progress in education, and the one to provide that is President Barack Obama.