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Sunday, November 27, 2022
U.S. Department of Education Undersecretary Martha Kanter

U.S. Department of Education Undersecretary Martha Kanter speaks about the future of higher education.

Top higher education official speaks at UW, urges more U.S. college grads

U.S. Department of Education Undersecretary Martha Kanter spoke on campus Tuesday about the future of higher education, emphasizing postsecondary education as a vital contributor to the country’s economic and social future.

Kanter, who has served as undersecretary since 2009, said too many people do not finish college.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison has a graduation rate of almost 83 percent within the last six years, according to data from the university’s Academic Planning and Institutional Research office.

“If all of them could have the outcomes that the University of Wisconsin-Madison has … America would far exceed its international competitors in terms of a highly educated college group of Americans,” Kanter said.

Kanter emphasized maximizing the options for different approaches to higher education, which could help more people complete degrees. She cited Massive Online Open Courses, which UW-Madison will pilot beginning in fall, and the UW Flex Option degree as examples.

She also mentioned the increasing financial burden on college graduates, saying the median student debt is currently about $25,000. According to Kanter, there are currently six federal tax credits for higher education, but they “mostly advantage the wealthier folks in this country.”

Dramatic government spending cuts known as the sequestration, which took effect March 1, could affect 70,000 students in the federal work study program in the fall, according to Kanter.

Kanter also said she hopes ongoing budget discussions in the government will produce a decision on whether or not the sequestration will continue.

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