North High School Students Ready to Quiz President Obama on College Affordability

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DES MOINES, Iowa-- President Barack Obama will join U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan as the Secretary brings his Sixth Annual Back-to-School Bus Tour to North High School in Des Moines Monday.

"I honestly didn't believe it. I didn't think he would come here at all," said Taj Milton, senior at North High School. “Everyone is excited.”

The President and Secretary Duncan will host a town hall with high school students and their parents to discuss college access and affordability. Attendees will have an opportunity to ask the President a question, and money is on the mind for most students.

“I think that is the number one concern on seniors’ minds,” says Milton.

The faculty at North High School echoes those concerns about how to pay for college.

“Student loan debt is the number one concern for them,” said Mike Vukovich, principal at North High School. “There are a lot of unknowns and that is our job to get them ready.”

“I am concerned about the debt part of college,” said Milton. “You hear the horror stories of how people went to school for these amazing degrees and now they are working at Dunkin’ Donuts.”

Vukovich expects college affordability to be one of two major questions students ask about. The other is how funding decisions are made at public universities.

“They see tuition at public universities continuing to go up, while administrators are getting $500,000 salaries and 13,000 square-foot mansions,” said Vukovich. “They are having a hard time understanding what they are actually paying for.”

Students were each asked to prepare one question if they were called upon during the meeting and Milton mulled-over her question all weekend.

"I would definitely ask him about his plan to make community college, for the first two years, free,” said Milton. “I think what he is doing is really cool. I want to know more about how he plans to do that.”

“I hope students walk away with some answers to those questions is the number one thing,” said Vukovich. “I also hope they walk away with a little bit of inspiration, knowing that they are being recognized.”  

This will be the 18th time Obama will  visit Iowa since he became President, the last being in January at an event in Cedar Falls. He is scheduled to begin speaking at 3:40 p.m.

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