During Tuesday’s State of the Union address, I was proud to hear our president talk about the issues that matter to Americans, especially those that impact us as students. From the skyrocketing cost of college to the importance of raising the minimum wage, the vision the president laid out last night is distinctly American — infused with the optimism and pragmatism that has always kept our nation moving forward.

By making the issues so important to our generation a priority, President Barack Obama has committed to leading our nation to a bright future. We know that the cost of college is unacceptably high, and it isn’t going to go down overnight. But this president has put college affordability front and center, from creating a College Scorecard, to helping inform students about financial aid opportunities, to keeping student loan rates low. When Republicans in Congress were ready to abandon us by doubling interest rates, Obama stood up for us and saved money for students across the country.

In Michigan, a state controlled by Republicans at every level of government, college becomes less affordable every day. Gov. Rick Snyder has repeatedly demonstrated a lack of concern for education, cutting more than $1 billion from K-12 funding in 2011 and watching higher-education funding fall by 11 percent since taking office. These cuts result in lower quality and more expensive education. Obama reminds us that it’s time to elect leaders who will make education a priority.

Notably, the president also discussed that Congress needs to step up to boost our economy and help the American people. By heeding the president’s call and raising the minimum wage, Congress would affirm that it is unacceptable for a person to work full-time and live below the poverty line. Raising the minimum wage is especially important to young people, many of whom rely on hourly jobs to help pay for their education. Along these same lines, Congress should immediately renew emergency unemployment insurance. In our state, Michiganders have lost these vital benefits. Without unemployment insurance, these people may struggle to put food on the table for their families and lack resources like gas money to effectively search for jobs. Obstructionist Republicans are blocking these bills in Congress, and we should stand up to them — now is not the time to play political games while hurting our economy.

Throughout his presidency, Obama has fought to expand opportunity for all Americans — especially young people. As a member of the College Democrats, I’m fired up to continue to stand with Obama in this fight. It’s our responsibility to hold Congress and Washington accountable to ensure that our futures are as bright as they can be.

Mary Bridget Lee is an LSA junior.

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