Story and Photo by Omar Reyes/Staff writer/@salar0895
WASHINGTON D.C. President Obama made an unexpected appearance on Thursday, April 28, to the delight of students during College Reporter Day.
For one whole day, college student reporters from across the country stepped into the shoes of professional reporters as they asked questions with several prominent White House Officials. Students entered the James S. Brady press briefing room inside the West Wing of the White House. Students engaged in an on-the-record press briefing with White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest. The students asked Earnest questions in a similar fashion to how professional reporters ask questions in the press briefing room.
In the middle of the press briefing, students gasped in shock as Obama unexpectedly entered the room. Obama talked to the students about the importance and relevance of journalism, addressed in detail the programs to help students with loans and took questions from seven students that ranged from Obama’s visit to Flint, Michigan, his proudest achievements and goals before the briefing ended.
The event began at 9:30 a.m. and ended around 5 p.m. About 50 student reporters entered the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, next to the White House, and inside the Indian Treaty Room where most of the events where scheduled.
First, the reporters received a welcome from White House Chief Of Staff Denis McDonough. Then, the student reporters met White House correspondents including NPR’s Scott Horsley, Toluse Olorunnipa of Bloomberg News, Christi Parsons of the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, Carolyn Kaster of the Associated Press, Jon Karl, ABC News and Jennifer Bendery of Huffington Post.
A briefing and Q&A on the “It’s On Us” campaign to end sexual assault by senior advisers to the president Valerie Jarrett and associate director of public engagement Kyle Lierman took place.
Next, another briefing and Q&A on the Supreme Court occurred with White House Counsel Neil Eggleston and Senior Adviser Brian Deese.
Next, the students asked direct questions about on college access and affordability with Secretary of Education John King, Eric Waldo, director of first lady Michele Obama’s Reach Higher initiative, Deputy Assistant to the President for Education Roberto Rodriguez and Special Assistant to the President for Higher Education Policy Ajita Menon.
The meeting reported that Obama would help students afford college by doubling investments in grant and scholarship aid through Pell grants and tax credits, keeping interest rates low on federal student loans, and creating better options to help students manage debt after college.
New actions that will help students manage their debts include:
Enrolling 2 million more students in plans like Pay As You Earn (PAYE). This payment plant by the president can help borrowers who are struggling financially and pay off their student loans.
The launch of StudentLoans.gov/Repay by the U.S. Digital Service and Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid to help students choose their best repayment option
Ensuring effective-student loan counseling brought by The Department of Education to help students make better borrowing decisions, increase college completion, promote successful loan payment and reduce delinquencies and defaults.
Providing better information to help borrowers take action of their debts. The includes “Payback Playbook,” a student loan that provides borrowers personalized information to better understand repayment options and find a monthly payment they can afford.
After a lunch break, reporters engaged in a questioning on civic engagement and national service with deputy assistant to the president and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement Paulette Aniskoff and CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service Wendy Spencer.
A brief tour to the first lady’s Kitchen Garden was planned, but canceled due to excessive mud caused by bad weather conditions.