Obama addresses student issues during his final State of the Union

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden attend U.S. President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

Cheyene Miller

In his last State of the Union speech, President Barack Obama spoke on several issues that could have major impacts on college students nationwide including the minimum wage and college tuition.

Obama spoke in favor of public funding for college education, citing his proposed legislation that would give American students two free years of community college.  He vowed to continue fighting to enact this policy in 2017.

“We’ve already reduced student loan payments to ten percent of a borrower’s income,” Obama said to a majority-Republican Congress.  “Now, we’ve actually got to cut the cost of college.”

The average student loan debt in the U.S. is about $30,000, according to data from the Institute for College Access and Success.

He also proposed raising the minimum wage, currently $7.25 per hour.  Louisville and Lexington both enacted plans to raise the citywide minimum wages, with Lexington going to $10.10 per hour over the next three years and Louisville going to $9 per hour by 2017.

Related: Editorial: Local government matters, and here’s why

In May, UK president Eli Capilouto proposed a plan to increase the starting wage at UK to $10 per hour for all non-student hourly workers.

Obama also advocated for higher voting participation, and called for a modernization of voting technology.

“We want to make it easier for people to participate,” Obama said regarding voter participation in America, which is lower than most developed countries, according to information from the Pew Research Center.

Americans aged 18-29 have the lowest turnout rate of any age group according to data from electproject.org.

The president briefly suggested taking action against gun violence, an issue directly affecting UK in the past months.

Caleb Hallett, a senior at Lafayette High School, was shot dead Saturday night near State Street. His death came about 9 months after Kentucky Kernel photo editor Jonathan Krueger was shot and killed near the 400 block of East Maxwell Street.

Obama took executive action to enact new gun control measures on Jan. 5, which, among other things, would push to expand background checks on firearm purchases.

He also discussed education, using the No Child Left Behind act as an example of successful bipartisan action, touting increased high school graduation rates and improvements in early childhood education.

“So I hope we can work together this year on bipartisan priorities like criminal justice reform, and helping people who are battling prescription drug abuse,” Obama said. “We just might surprise the cynics again.”