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A World-Class Education for Every Student in America

President Obama discusses his plan to equip all American with the education the need to compete in the 21st century economy and announces a new FAFSA Completion Initiative to give more Americans the opportunity to afford, attend, and graduate from college.
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama talks with students in a classroom at Coral Reef Senior High School, Florida,

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama acknowledge the crowd after the President spoke at Coral Reef Senior High School, Fla., March 7, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Today, President Obama and the First Lady visited Coral Reef High School in Miami to discuss the President's plan to equip all Americans with the education they need to compete in the 21st century economy.

“By working hard every single day, every single night, you are making the best investment there is in your future,” President Obama told the students. “And we want to make sure you’ve got everything, all the tools you need to succeed.” 

President Obama talked about one tool that’s helping give more students the opportunity to afford, attend, and graduate from college: the Free Application for Student Aid or FAFSA.

It is a simple form. It used to be complicated; we made it simple. It doesn’t cost anything -- that’s why the word “free” is right there in the name. It does not take a long time to fill out. Once you do, you’re putting yourself in the running for all kinds of financial support for college -- scholarships, grants, loans, work-study jobs. 

Over the last five years, the Obama administration has been working to make college more affordable for more students. And today, more young people are earning college degrees than ever before. But we have to do more, President Obama said.

“Unfortunately, there are still a lot of young people all across the country who say the cost of college is holding them back,” he said. “Some of you may have sat around the kitchen table with your parents wondering about whether you’ll be able to afford it.”

“FAFSA is by far the easiest way to answer that question,” President Obama told the students at Coral Reef.

Last year, almost half of high school graduates in Florida didn’t fill out a FAFSA. Together, they left a combined $100 million on the table that could have helped pay for college.

So today, President Obama issued a challenge to every high school student in America: Fill out the FAFSA, even if you think you might not qualify for financial aid.

“We’re making it easier that ever,” President Obama said. The form is now available online, and shorter than earlier versions – it takes about half an hour to fill out.

And as of today, school administrators can confidentially find out which students have already filled out their FAFSA, and which students haven’t and might need help completing their forms. And anyone can go online and find out the number of students who have filled out the form at each high school – setting the stage for a new kind of rivalry.

And if you keep reaching for success -- and I know you will, just based on the small sampling we saw of students here -- if you keep working as hard as you can and learning as much as you can, and if you’ve got big ambitions and big dreams, if you don’t let anybody tell you something is out of your reach, if you are convinced that you can do something and apply effort and energy and determination and persistence to that vision, then not only will you be great but this country will be great. Our schools will be great.  

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