Community-college graduation rates are a key component in bolstering the economy, President Obama said Tuesday in a speech in which he also outlined plans to retrain unemployed workers and safeguard the U.S. from global job competition. As part a $12 billion plan, Obama’s proposals would budget $9 billion to increase student success, $2.5 billion for building and technology upgrades, and $500 million for online-course grants, all in an effort to help five million more Americans earn degrees and certificates by 2020. Obama’s plan depends on whether Congress will replace legislation on a subsidized student loan program with loans through the Education Department, which the Congressional Budget Office estimated would save $87 billion over the next decade. "The financial strain that our colleges are experiencing cannot be overemphasized," said the president of the American Association of Community Colleges. "New federal assistance will help our colleges weather the current financial storm but, just as importantly, position community colleges to help sustain the nation's long-term prosperity."