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Student Loan Interest Rates, Refinancing, and the Affordable Care Act: Deputies' Download

President Obama again pushes Congress to act on student loan interest rates, the White House introduces a tool to help you figure out if you qualify for refinancing, and new data show that the Affordable Care Act is making a positive difference in our health care system.

President Obama Again Pushes Congress to Act on Student Loans

President Barack Obama delivers a statement on college affordability (June 21, 2012)

President Barack Obama, with Education Secretary Arne Duncan, delivers a statement on college affordability and interest rates on student loans, in the East Room of the White House, June 21, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

President Obama spoke last Thursday from the East Room of the White House about the importance of keeping college affordable. He said:

“If Congress does not get this done in a week, the average student with federal student loans will rack up an additional $1,000 in debt over the coming year. If Congress fails to act, more than 7 million students will suddenly be hit with the equivalent of a $1,000 tax hike. And that’s not something that you can afford right now.”

Raise your voice and reach out to your networks if you agree that student loan rates should not double on July 1. On Twitter and Google+, use the hashtag #DontDoubleMyRate; on Facebook, update your status and profile image. Learn more about the President’s proposal and read about the impact higher interest rates would have on the AAPI, Native American, Hispanic, and African American communities.

And finally, be sure to join Secretary of Education Arne Duncan for a special session of White House Office Hours on Wednesday, June 27th at 2:00 p.m. EDT.

Would You Qualify for Refi? Find Out

Did you know that the average homeowner could save $3,000 a year by refinancing at today's historically low interest rates? President Obama's plan to give mortgage relief to responsible homeowners boils down to one important principle. He wants to simplify the refinancing process. 

And the very first step is to let people know if they would benefit from the President's proposal -- so we've built a tool to help answer that question. Just enter a few basic facts about your mortgage, and this tool will help you figure out if you currently qualify for easy, low-cost refinancing -- or whether, like millions of families, you need Congress to act to help you lower your interest rate.

Statement by the President on the Supreme Court’s Ruling on Arizona v. United States

Following the Supreme Court’s ruling, President Obama said:

“I am pleased that the Supreme Court has struck down key provisions of Arizona's immigration law. What this decision makes unmistakably clear is that Congress must act on comprehensive immigration reform. A patchwork of state laws is not a solution to our broken immigration system – it’s part of the problem.”

Read the full statement.

How the Affordable Care Act is Helping Americans

The Affordable Care Act, the new health care law, is making a positive difference in our health care system. Last week, the Obama Administration made four announcements about how the new law is helping people across the country.

  • 3.1 Million People Have Gained Coverage because young adults can stay on their parent’s health plan until age 26. This helps people like Ashley, a young woman living with cystic fibrosis, who would be spending her time trying to come up with money for healthcare instead of pursuing her education without this benefit. 
  • Community Health Centers are Stronger. The law provides grants that will ensure nearly 1.3 million more patients get high quality health care and will help support approximately 5,640 jobs. Learn more about these grants here.
  • Over 5 Million Seniors Have Saved $3.7 Million on Prescription Drugs. The average savings for seniors and people with disabilities this year is $651. Find State-by-State information on the amount of savings people with Medicare have received.
  • You are Getting a Better Value for Your Health Care Dollar. The new health care law created the 80/20 rule, which requires that health insurers spend at least 80 percent of your health care premiums on health care or improvements to care or they must refund you the difference. Overall, 12.8 million Americans will be benefiting from $1.1 billion in rebates from insurance companies this summer. Learn more about this announcement here.

U.S. Department of Transportation Announces Funding for 47 TIGER 2012 Projects

On Friday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that 47 transportation projects in 34 states and the District of Columbia will receive a total of almost $500 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) 2012 program.

The TIGER program is a highly competitive program that is able to fund innovative projects difficult or impossible to fund through other federal programs. The program has provided $3.1 billion to 218 projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Find additional information on individual TIGER grants here

The White House Marks the 40th Anniversary of Title IX  

Last week, the White House Council on Women and Girls hosted an event marking the 40th anniversary of Title IX with dozens of advocates and leaders who are continuing the fight for gender equity in our schools. The Administration also announced a new set of policies to step up enforcement of full gender equity under Title IX, ensuring that our schools continue to provide a fair shot at success for everyone.

To celebrate this milestone, female leaders across the Obama Administration shared favorite pictures that express how getting a chance to compete has helped them reach their own dreams.

Obama Administration Awards “Vets to Cops” Hiring Grants

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) announced funding awards to over 220 cities and counties, aimed at creating or saving approximately 800 law enforcement positions.  The grants will fund over 600 new law enforcement positions and save an additional 200 positions recently lost or in jeopardy of being cut due to local budget cuts. 

All new law enforcement positions funded in the COPS 2012 Hiring Program must be filled by recent military veterans who have served at least 180 days since September 11, 2001.  For the entire list of grantees and additional information about the 2012 COPS Hiring Program, visit the COPS website.

Blog Highlights

White House Champions of Change Program

Last week, The White House Office of Public Engagement honored 11 individuals from Head Start programs across the country who have demonstrated a commitment to delivering on the promise of Head Start in their local communities. Over 45 years after its inception, Head Start continues to serve as a national laboratory for how we think about educating and caring for our youngest, most vulnerable children

The Champions of Change 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 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 @vj44 and @JonCarson44.

We welcome your thoughts and feedback at

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