U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday unveiled a plan that would help relieve the burden of Americans who are struggling to pay their student loans.
"We should be doing everything we can to put a college education within reach for every American," Obama said at the University of Colorado in Denver. "It's never been more important, but, let's face it, it's also never been more expensive."
The president quoted a new report which showed tuition and fees at U.S. universities have gone up -- much faster than inflation.
"Over the past three decades, the cost of college has nearly tripled. And that is forcing you, forcing students, to take out more loans and rack up more debt," he said.
The president offered a plan to provide some relief for millions of Americans on their student loans. The plan would accelerate a measure, already passed by Congress, to reduce the maximum required payment on student loans from 15 percent of discretionary income annually to 10 percent. The measure was scheduled to be implemented in 2014, but Obama said it would be put in place as soon as 2012.
The plan would forgive the balance of student loans after 20 years of payments. Additionally, starting January, an estimated 6 million students and recent college graduates will be able to consolidate their loans and reduce their interest rates.
The move came as U.S. students borrowed an unprecedented amount of money through federal loan programs last year.
The amount of student loans taken out last year surpassed 100 billion dollars for the first time and total loans outstanding will exceed 1 trillion dollars for the first time this year, according to a recent USA Today report.
"Living with that kind of debt means making some pretty tough choices when you're first starting out," said Obama. "It might mean putting off buying a house. It might mean your can't start a business idea that you've got."