Statement of Student PIRGs Higher Education Associate Ethan Senack on President Obama’s State of the Union speech:

“Tonight, in his annual State of the Union address, President Obama echoed concerns that rising college costs are driving a generation of Americans into debt and even putting a higher education out of reach for middle class families.

His remarks hit on the fact that college is more expensive than ever. The average student borrower takes on almost $30,000 in loans, and as a nation we hold $1.2 trillion in student loan debt – more than credit card and auto loan debt.  

The President was right: we need to take action on college affordability and student loan debt – not just for individual students and families, but for our nation’s economic health as well. We can’t afford to bury a generation of Americans in student loan debt.

We support the President’s efforts to increase consumer knowledge about the affordability and value in a particular college degree. In challenging economic times, students and families are looking for a college that offers the best “bang-for-your-buck.” They should have access to comprehensive and easy-to-understand information to help guide their decision.

We applaud the President for working to ensure that student loan borrows struggling under mountains of debt know they have a safety net before slipping into default. It is essential that graduates with student loan debt know they have options, so instead of defaulting and destroying their credit, they can pay off their loans in amounts that work for them, not against them.

This coming year, we are excited to work with the President to ensure that the dream of a higher education remains achievable to all Americans.”


Student PIRGs are independent statewide student organizations that work on issues like environmental protection, consumer protection, and hunger and homelessness. For nearly 40 years students working with their campus PIRG chapters have been making a real difference in people’s lives and winning concrete changes to build a better world.