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Editorial | How even the most boring State of the Union Address affects you

By Editorial Board
On January 31, 2014

Tuesday's State of the Union address reached low audiences as it dropped to 33.3 million viewers - the lowest since Bill Clinton's address in 2000 (31.5 million). While Pretty Little Liars occupied a number of Miami University televisions Tuesday night, the Editorial Board of The Miami Student wants to relay the possible impact of the contents within the State of the Union (SOTU) speech that may effect every student.

To begin: the topic of student loans. With about 47 percent of Miami students receiving loans (70 percent of students receive grants, 75 percent overall receive some sort of financial aid), many students are affected by changes in federal loan policy. In 2012, the average per-borrower debt from a 4-year school was about $25,000 ($29,000 for private 4-year schools). President Obama attempted to address this issue in his SOTU: "We're offering millions the opportunity to cap their monthly student loan payments to ten percent of their income, and I want to work with Congress to see how we can help even more Americans who feel trapped by student loan debt." The Board realizes how daunting student loans can be, and it seems as if President Obama does too.

But what may leave you resting assured is the fact that "average income for those with a bachelor's to those with a high school diploma has increased 20 percent in the last 40 years," said Morgan Housel, economist and writer at Whether or not you receive federal aid, we were ranked #28 public college with "Best Lifetime ROI".

Moving on to the topic of gender equality: Women outnumber men on this campus 52 to 48 percent. And so more than half of the student body should pay attention to what Obama said about this issue: "It's time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a "Mad Men" episode." He prompts Congress, the rest of the White House and everyone from "Wall Street to Main Street" to give women the opportunities they deserve. He says, "When women succeed, America succeeds."

Women in college should keep track of what is going on in public policy as far as gender equality is concerned, because in the upcoming years, as we enter the workforce, it will matter. In 2010, women who worked full time only made 77 percent of what full-time working men earned. We're not sure what President Obama can actually do about the wage gap quite yet; maybe he'll pass another executive order, but we will be on the lookout till then.

Minimum wage was also a topic of discussion Tuesday. This should strike a cord with most students at Miami, especially those who are student employees. President Obama wants to "give America a raise." Yes, he wants to raise minimum wage again. In the last year, five states have raised their minimum wage law.

This year, Obama wants to push it even higher to $10.10. He said Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and George Miller (D-Calif.) have a bill that will fix inflation of minimum wage. Obama has always been really big on improving the standard of living for low-income families. At the beginning of the year he said he was going to focus on tackling income inequality, so this part of his speech really didn't surprise any of us.

This all comes back to Obama's idea that no person who works full time should be living in poverty. Though 97 percent of us are full time students and pretty far from being considered "poor," the Editorial Board realizes that a boost in minimum wage would significantly benefit a lot of students at Miami, since about a quarter of college students hold a job while attending college, according to CBS News.

Only time will tell if Obama actually plans to implement this, or if it is just all talk.

The rather typically boring State of the Union address may be tossed aside by a lot of Miami students. And even though The Editorial Board tends to agree that his speech was in parts full of typical political fluff and at times dull, the policy changes he proposed to Congress Tuesday will indeed affect any and all students at this university. So let's see what Obama has in store for 2014 while we sit back and wait for the next presidential election.

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