Jill Biden presses higher ed issues in Twin Cities trip

8:46 PM, Sep 15, 2012   |    comments
Jill Biden at North Hennepin Community College
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BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. - Jill Biden's used her first solo campaign trip to the Twin Cities on Friday to promote the Obama-Biden record on higher education funding and to press for more support for financially challenged college students.

"I know that every single day President Obama and my husband are fighting for all of you," Mrs. Biden told a group of students at North Hennepin Community College in Brooklyn Park.

Biden, a career educator, still teaches English full-time at Northern Virginia Community College.  She said she draws inspiration from the students she sees everyday in the classroom.

She pointed out that the Obama administration had pushed for doubling of Pell Grants and to change rules for interest rates on student loans so that repayment schedules would be more affordable.

"They've got your backs, so now it's time for you to get theirs," Biden remarked. "That starts with getting registered and pledging to vote on Nov. 6 and then asking all of your friends to do the same thing."

The students who invited Biden to North Hennepin urged her to continue support for TRIO, a series of support programs that help first-generation college students navigate the higher education system.

"We've got to get the word out that TRIO works," Awale Osman, a North Hennepin student leader who was born in a Somali refugee camp, told KARE.

"We have financial aid and that's great, but we also need the support, such as the one-on-one instruction, the tutoring and the advising component."

The TRIO program began in the 1960s of the Great Society initiatives designed to lift lower income persons out of poverty and into the middle class through education.

"We serve students who are low income and first generation, which means neither parent ever received a four-year bachelors degree," Tiffany Dayton, a college staff member explained.

"TRIO was formed to end the war on poverty, to help students that don't have money and don't have access to education to get their degree, and to make it."

Biden hosted a meet-and-greet at the Depot coffee shop in Hopkins, before heading to another student gathering at Macalester College in St. Paul.

In anticipation of Biden's visit, the Republican Party of Minnesota issued a statement calling attention to how the federal debt has grown during the Obama years.  The GOP also blamed Obama and Biden for the jobs the economy shedded during the first nine months of his term.

When Obama took office in January of 2009, the economy had been in a deep recession for more than 18 months and was losing 700,000 jobs each month.

The U.S. economy has posted a net gain in jobs for 30 consecutive months, but that rebound has been far weaker than past recoveries.

(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, reprinted, rewritten or redistributed..)

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