On Friday, Education Secretary Arne Duncan spent time in Minneapolis promoting the American Opportunity Tax Credit and encouraging high school students to explore the now simplified Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Regrettably, increasing costs of tuition and materials remain a greater barrier to higher education than they should have ever been allowed to become. At a time when lawmakers nationwide are calling for austerity measures and âÄúreforms,âÄù including the end of tenure and teachersâÄô unions along with cutting taxpayer support for education across the board, tax credits, in conjunction with increased Pell Grant funding, are sorely needed. This promotion should give aspiring and current college students alike a glass-half-full approach to paying for ever-increasing college costs. Above all, the American Opportunity Tax Credit and similar measures represent a commitment to low-income students that must not only be maintained, but strengthened. Education, from K-12 to college, is meant to serve the public interest and as such must be accessible to all who wish to achieve it. From innovation to global competitiveness, education throughout the U.S. has begun to slip. America must renew its commitment to education and promote its best and brightest, no matter from which walk of life they may come. The American Opportunity Tax Credit is a good first step. While the cost of higher education falls both on students and the taxpayers, Duncan rightfully proclaims that such costs are an investment not just for the student but also for his or her community.