By Jake Pandolfi
Following President Obama's State of the Union Address, several Niagara University students voiced concerns over the consequences of the commander in chief's plans. As the next generation of Americans, the students are most concerned with the cost of higher education, the increase in minimum wage and oil production. These topics of interest are constantly met with controversy and abstract speculation.
What did Obama say? "Too many bright, striving Americans are priced out of the education they need. It is not fair to them ... that is why I am sending this Congress a bold new plan to lower the cost of community college -- to zero." He later stated "40 percent of our college students choose community college ... this plan is [their] chance to graduate ready for the new economy without a load of debt."
What does this mean? This is great for students looking to get a two-year degree but this leaves students in four-year degree programs, like Niagara University unprotected from loan increases. The U.S. Department of Education states federal student loans are at 4.66 percent, a 0.8 percent increase from last year.
How do students react? Senior supply chain major Anne Gigliotti said the interest rates are "discouraging for graduating students. Tuition is increasing, interest rates are high and starting salaries are too low to live on your own after college."
What did Obama say? "And to everyone in this Congress who still refuses to raise the minimum wage, I say this: If you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, try it. If not, vote to give millions of the hardest-working people in America a raise."
What does this mean? Effective Jan 1, the minimum wage was increased to $8.75 per hour. This will be the 22nd time since 1938 the minimum wage has been raised. The U.S Department of Labor states three out of five small business owners support increasing the minimum wage to $10.10. Small business owners say a higher minimum wage would benefit business by an increase consumer purchasing power, lowering employee turnover, increasing productivity and customer satisfaction.
What do students say? Several Niagara students do not support this increase. Sophomore mathematics major Cassidy Buckner said "In order to stay afloat, businesses will have to raise prices to counteract the increase of payroll output. At my job, I could potentially lose hours from increased wages as well."
What did Obama say? "We believed we could reduce our dependence on foreign oil and protect our planet. And today, America is No. 1 in oil and gas. ... And thanks to lower gas prices and higher fuel standards, the typical family this year should save about $750 at the pump"
What does this mean? Thanks to hydraulic fracturing, fluctuating crude oil prices and new formulas of multi-blend gasoline, gas prices have plunged. Barrel production has also increased by 70 percent since 2007. As of October, the U.S pumped 8.6 million barrels, compared to 2007 where only 5 million barrels were produced. These lower gas prices could bring over $100 billion into the economy.
What do students say? Sara Werdein, a senior psychology major, said oil production "is good for the country and makes us sustainable and independent. However, if it is done the wrong way it could really harm the environment."
Edited by Alexis Tymorek
Design by Jacob Streb