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Biden highlights support for higher education

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KWMU photo
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Vice President Joe Biden addresses the crowd during a Middle Class Task Force town hall at UM-St. Louis

By Rachel Lippmann, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – Vice President Joe Biden has ordered the Secretaries of Education and the Treasury to find ways to help families who don't have time to replenish college savings accounts called 529s before their children need to use the money to pay for higher education.

Biden issued the order Friday during an appearance at the University of Missouri - St. Louis, part of an effort to highlight the Obama administration's plans to make college more affordable.

Biden also asked the crowd of 300 to push for the passage of the administration's proposed overhaul of college lending. The plan, opposed by banks and other private lenders, would eliminate government guarantees on money raised from investors, and instead provide loans directly to students, with private companies servicing the products. The shift will free up $94 billion, Biden said, "And Arne will reinvest in more loans, more grants, and more access to college," referring to education secretary Arne Duncan, who accompanied Biden on this trip.

Biden also applauded a fellow Democrat, Gov. Jay Nixon, for his efforts to make college more affordable. Nixon has pledged to keep state funding the same for public universities and community colleges as long as they hold tuition steady.

"We're at this point at which the newest graduation gift is debt, and that is also having a tremendous effect on our economy," Nixon said. "When folks used to graduate they would buy those new cars, they would buy those new houses, they would invest. Those dollars are not now being spent, they're being spent looking in the rearview mirror financially."

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