Published: Oct 14, 2010 11:28 AM EDT
Updated: Oct 14, 2010 8:28 AM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) - Calling education an "economic imperative," President Barack Obama on Wednesday asked Congress to make permanent a $2,500 college tuition tax credit that is scheduled to expire at the end of the year.

Obama earlier this year asked Congress to make the American Opportunity Tax Credit permanent. The request was part of the budget plan Obama sent to Capitol Hill, but lawmakers took no action on it.

Obama said Wednesday that this new tax credit - it was part of the $814 billion economic stimulus bill he signed shortly after taking office in 2009 - would help middle-class families afford to invest in their children's future.

"I am calling on Congress to make this tax credit permanent so it's worth up to $10,000 for four years of college because we've got to make sure that in good times or bad, our families can invest in their children's future and in the future of our country," Obama said in the White House Rose Garden.

He was joined there by three families that are using the tax credit to help send their children to college.

The tax credit is available only for the 2009 and 2010 tax years. Making it permanent means families could claim it during all four years of college, for a maximum of $10,000 per student.