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Obama visits Capital Region college

TROY, NY - Visiting a community college Monday in New York State's Capital Region, U.S. President Barack Obama unveiled new federal proposals intended to spur the creation of high-technology jobs, boost 21st century education and foster innovation that will revitalize the economy.

Although the president's visit to Hudson Valley Community College was a scripted, controlled event with only minor interaction with the public and no question-and-answer session with the press, Obama received a warm welcome and plenty of media attention.

The President announced his administration's initiatives - dubbed the Strategy for Innovation and Sustainable Growth, in front of an audience of about 200 Capital Region business leaders, politicians, and 60 HVCC students in an automotive technology classroom - essentially a repair garage which until late last week hosted cars perched on vehicle lifts.

The initiatives include boosting college enrollment by increasing federal Pell grants to college students, creating a simplified $2,500 tax credit for college tuition, boosting aid to soldiers returning from combat in the mideast, liberalizing college aid by shifting aid qualifications from evaluating past annual pay to present earnings, and increasing federal support to community colleges.

He also voiced support for a bill that passed the House of Representatives last week that calls for the government to lend to students directly for college tuition, saving $80 billion in federal student loan subsidies and guarantees now going to banks. This money would be redirected to beefing up Pell grants and fund incentives for students to graduate, he said.

"These savings will allow us to make the largest investment ever in the most under-appreciated asset of our educational system: community colleges like Hudson Valley which are so essential to the future of young people and our economy," he said.

He also said he'd be promoting broadband development - and he proposed establishing grants to explore next-generation communication breakthroughs.

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