Biden offers "College Completion Tool Kit"

WASHINGTON Tue Mar 22, 2011 1:33pm EDT

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden gestures as he makes a speech at Moscow State University in Moscow March 10, 2011. REUTERS/Alexander Natruskin

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden gestures as he makes a speech at Moscow State University in Moscow March 10, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Alexander Natruskin

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Vice President Joe Biden called on Tuesday for a nation-wide effort to make the United States the world leader in college completion by 2020, offering a "College Completion Tool Kit" to help.

The kit features seven of what President Barack Obama's administration calls low- or no-cost strategies for state governors to increase college completion rates.

"We have to make the same commitment to getting folks across the graduation stage that we did to getting them into the registrar's office," Biden told the Building a Grad Nation Summit in Washington.

"The dreams and skills of our college graduates will pave the way to a bright economic future for our nation," he said.

Biden's comments focused on the need to shift the focus from high school completion to college completion and make post-secondary education more financially viable.

The administration kit specifies what states need to do to reach the goal. Among the kit's suggestions are developing action plans, embracing performance-based funding, and aligning high school graduation standards with college entrance standards.

Biden's remarks expounded on an aim Obama announced during his State of the Union speech in February for the United States to once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.

According to the Organization of Economic Cooperation

and Development, America now ties with three other countries for ninth among member states in the percentage of adults age 25-34 with tertiary education.

To reach the 2020 goal, the White House estimated America will have to increase its number of graduates by 50 percent over the next decade.

The plan does not come with any new money. However, Biden did stress that the United States has to be willing to spend more on making education affordable.

Commenting on how he could work during the summers to pay for courses at the University of Delaware, Biden said that it is no longer possible.

To pay for the credit hours at any private school in the country, "you have to be selling something other than ice cream," Biden said.

(Reporting by Wendell Marsh; Editing by Jerry Norton)

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