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Student Loan Rates, College Affordability, and Helping Families Refinance: Deputies' Download

President Obama speaks about student loan interest rates and Income Based Repayment, Vice President Biden discusses college affordability, and the White House asks what you think about the President's refinancing proposal.

President Obama Calls on Congress to Keep Student Loan Interest Rates Low

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on college affordability at UNLV (June 7, 2012)

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on college affordability at Cox Pavilion at the University of Las Vegas (UNLV) in Las Vegas, Nevada, June 7, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Last week at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, President Obama talked about student loans – a subject he's personally had quite a bit of experience navigating. In fact, President Obama was serving in the U.S. Senate before he paid off the last of his student loans.

The President discussed his proposal to stop student loan interest rates from doubling, which would hit millions of hard-working middle class students and their families with the equivalent of a $1,000 tax if Congress doesn’t do its job and work together on a solution to keep rates low. Reach out to your networks if you agree that student loan rates should not double on July 1. Use the hashtag #DontDoubleMyRate and update your Facebook status to make your voice heard.

President Obama also spoke about the “Income Based Repayment” (IBR) plan, which allows former students to cap their student loan payments at 15 percent of their current discretionary income if they make their payments on time. Last week, the President issued a memorandum to streamline the IBR process and improve information available to responsible borrowers about student loan repayment options. Learn more about the big step he's taking to help make it easier for everyone to afford a great education.

Vice President Biden Discusses College Affordability

Vice President Joe Biden holds a meeting on transparency in college costs (June 5, 2012)

Vice President Joe Biden holds a meeting on transparency in college costs with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and college presidents, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, June 5, 2012. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

Last week, Vice President Biden met with the presidents and senior officials of ten colleges, universities, and state systems of higher education from across the country to discuss the importance of providing students and families with transparent information about the cost of attendance and financial aid.

Post-secondary education is a valuable investment – more than 60 percent of new jobs in the next decade will require a credential beyond a high school diploma. But before settling on a school and signing any loan agreements, students and their families need easy-to-understand information regarding how they will finance their education.

The colleges and universities participating in last week’s roundtable are leading the way toward greater transparency by committing to provide students with some key pieces of information they need to make smart choices regarding where to go to school and how to pay for their degree. As the Vice President said, this commitment is “going to empower students and their families to be back in the driver’s seat when they’re choosing a college and how to pay for that education.”

Why Refi? You Tell Us

Millions of families who bought homes before the financial crisis are locked in at the high interest rates of the past. Even though they have done everything right, including making their payments on time each month, they can't refinance at today's rates, which are historically low.

That's why President Obama is urging Congress to take up his proposal to cut through the red tape that currently prevents these families from saving hundreds of dollars every month.

We want to make sure you have the facts -- and get a chance to tell us what you think. Take a minute to watch this White House Whiteboard video from Brian Deese, Deputy Director of the National Economic Council, and then answer a few questions that will help guide our work in the weeks ahead.

Blog Highlights

White House Champions of Change Program

The ChampionsofChange series spotlights everyday heroes who are demonstrating a commitment to improving their own communities, their country, or the lives of their fellow citizens. We are looking for you to nominate someone who is doing extraordinary things to make a difference in your community as a “Champion of Change.”

Get Involved

We Want Your Feedback: Refinancing

Last week, we told you about President Obama’s proposal to cut through the red tape that is preventing many homeowners from refinancing their mortgages and saving hundreds of dollars each month and then asked you to answer a few questions and tell us what you think about this issue.

Your response was overwhelming. 

Nearly 20,000 of you responded in a little over 24 hours, telling us about whether you would benefit from this proposal, what you thought was most compelling about the plan, and sharing any additional questions you may have. One thing we learned? Nearly 50% of you hadn’t heard about the plan before, so we need to keep getting the word out.

We’re still pouring over the responses, and in the days ahead we look forward to sharing what we’ve read and answering many of the questions you’ve asked. Haven’t told us what you think yet?  Read more and share your opinion at

A “State Dinner” Just for Kids

Calling all kid chefs: Here's your chance to share your favorite delicious and nutritious lunch recipe with First Lady Michelle Obama. Let's Move!, the First Lady's initiative to solve the problem of childhood obesity within a generation, is looking for parents or legal guardians of creative kid chefs from all over the country to submit their child’s recipe for a healthy and nutritious lunch.

So if your kids have some skills in the kitchen, we hope you'll take the time to share their recipes. We'll invite a winning child and their parent or legal guardian from each state and territory to join us for a Kid’s “State Dinner.” You have until June 17 to submit your recipe, so get cooking and share what you think we should serve for lunch at the White House.

Get Updates

For more information, visit the White House Office of Public Engagement website and blog and sign up for additional opportunities. Be sure to participate in the online conversation by following Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President (@vj44), and Jon Carson, Director of the Office of Public Engagement (@JonCarson44).

We welcome your thoughts and feedback at

Anne Filipic and Stephanie Valencia are Deputy Directors in the Office of Public Engagement.