04/03/2013 05:15 pm ET Updated Apr 03, 2013

Bill Clinton: College Students Hurt By Debt, Prescription Drug Abuse

In a call with student leaders and reporters on Tuesday, former President Bill Clinton said that student debt and illegal prescription drug use are among the problems facing America's college students, Inside Higher Education reported.

Clinton's call was placed ahead of the sixth annual Clinton Global Initiative University meeting, which will start on Friday at Washington University in St. Louis.

In his call, Clinton touched on hardships facing college students today. He noted crushing student loan debt, and hinted that online courses could be a viable solution. "I think the only sustainable answer is to find a less expensive delivery system," he said. Clinton also pointed to students' increased abuse of prescription drugs. "Every institution of higher education should make sure that 100 percent of students understand that you can’t mix prescription pills with alcohol," he said.

The problems Clinton discussed in his call are serious issues facing students today. Incredible student loan debt is not only dragging down recent grads, but is also slowing the economy and costing taxpayers, one report found. A feature in The New York Times in February highlighted the problem of prescription drug use among students, detailing the life and death of a medical student in Virginia who became dangerously addicted to Adderall before hanging himself two weeks after his last prescription ran out.

Clinton founded the Clinton Global Initiative University in 2007. The program aims "to engage the next generation of leaders on college campuses around the world," its website says, and students and organizations who attend the initiative's yearly meeting are expected to create "Commitment to Action" proposals and outline plans to implement their projects.

Former CGI-U participants have gone on to accomplish big things through their commitments and their affiliation with the organization. Harvard University student Jessica Matthews won awards from TED and Popular Mechanics for her 2009 commitment, SOCCKET, a soccer ball that transfers motion energy into light or power for small electronics. In 2011, resources from CGI-U allowed University of California, Santa Barbara student Ryland King to drastically increase the scope of operations for his organization, Sprout Up. King founded Sprout Up in 2009 to empower and educate youth on environmental issues with help from college volunteer educators.



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