Friday, April 24, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Obama calls for cost-conscious college ratings

President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks at the University at Buffalo, the State University of New York, on Thursday. AP photo

President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks at the University at Buffalo, the State University of New York, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013 in Buffalo, N.Y., where he began his two day bus tour to speak about college financial aid. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

By
From page A1 | August 23, 2013 |

By Julie Pace and Philip Elliott

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Targeting the soaring cost of higher education, President Barack Obama on Thursday unveiled a broad new government rating system for colleges that would judge schools on their affordability and perhaps be used to allocate federal financial aid.

But the proposed overhaul faced immediate skepticism from college leaders who worry the rankings could cost their institutions millions of dollars, as well as from congressional Republicans wary of deepening the government’s role in higher education.

The president, speaking to a student-heavy crowd of 7,000 at the University at Buffalo, said he expected pushback from those who have profited from the ballooning cost of college. But he argued that with the nation’s economy still shaky and students facing increasing global competition, making college affordable is “an economic imperative.”

“Higher education cannot be a luxury,” Obama said during the first stop on a two-day bus tour through New York and Pennsylvania. “Every American family should be able to get it.”

Republicans on Capitol Hill weighed in quickly with criticism. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, the top Republican on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, cast the proposal as government overreach and suggested a state-by-state approach would be preferable.

“Washington needs to be careful about taking a good idea for one state and forcing all 6,000 institutions of higher education to do the exact same thing, turning Washington into a sort of national school board for our colleges and universities,” Alexander said.

For colleges and universities, millions of federal aid dollars could be on the line if schools are downgraded under the government rating system. However, if colleges line up against the idea of tying ratings to federal aid, the proposal would face nearly impossible odds. Almost all members of Congress have colleges or universities in their districts, and a coordinated effort to rally students and educators against the plan would probably kill it quickly.

“This is extraordinarily complicated stuff, and it’s not clear we have the complete data or accurate data,” said Molly Corbett Broad, the president of the American Council on Education that represents colleges and universities in Washington.
University of California President Mark Yudof praised Obama’s proposals, saying in a statement that they are consistent with the system’s efforts. About half of resident undergraduate students have their full tuition paid for by Pell Grants, Cal Grants or UC’s Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan

“Nearly half of UC students graduate with no loan debt, and the average debt upon graduation for those who do borrow is roughly $7,000 below the national average,” Yudof said. “UC’s graduation rates and time to degree rank high among public universities. And we are developing additional online offerings to further expand access to high-demand courses.

“Yet there is always more that can be done to ensure transparency and access, and we look forward to working with the Obama Administration toward achievement of shared goals.”

From Buffalo, Obama climbed aboard his armored black bus for a road trip that was to take him through western and central New York as well as northeastern Pennsylvania over two days. The education-focused trip underscores the degree to which the White House is seeking to keep the president’s public agenda focused on domestic issues, even as international crises flare in Egypt and Syria.

“As we’re weighing these domestic policy positions and foreign policy decisions, the president puts the interests of the United States of America first,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. “The fact that we are doing this bus tour is an indication that the president has his priorities straight.”

The education proposals are part of the broader economic agenda Obama has been pitching across the country this summer. The tour is aimed at building public support for his economic policies ahead of fiscal fights with Congress this fall.

The rising cost of college has increasingly become a burden for many Americans. According to administration figures, the tuition costs at public, four-year universities has tripled over the last 30 years and average student loan debt stands at $26,000.

Over the past five years, the tuition sticker price at public four-year colleges is up 27 percent beyond overall inflation, according to a College Board survey. At private schools, the average student’s cost has risen 13 percent beyond overall inflation.

There has been little consensus among policymakers on how to curb college costs. While Obama’s proposal could give colleges an incentive to slow increases, it could also add massive reporting requirements that could be a burden on schools already struggling to make ends meet.

The new rating system does not require congressional approval, and the White House is aiming to have it set up before the 2015 school year. But Obama does need support from Congress in order to use the ratings as a basis for parceling out federal financial aid.

In addition to tuition, schools will also be rated on average student loan debt, graduation rates and the average earnings of graduates. Under Obama’s proposal, students attending highly rated schools could receive larger grants and more affordable loans.

The president is also seeking legislation to give colleges a “bonus” based on the number of students they graduate who received Pell Grants. The goal is to encourage colleges to enroll and graduate low- and moderate-income students.

Obama’s other proposals include a requirement that colleges with high dropout rates distribute student aid over the course of the semester rather than in a lump sum. The aim is to ensure that students who drop out do not receive funds for time they are not in school.

The president also renewed his call for a $1 billion college “Race to the Top” competition that would reward states that make significant changes in higher education policies while also containing tuition costs.

For Obama, who has made no secret of his desire to get out of Washington when he can, the bus tours have become a favorite method for reconnecting with the public. Beyond his official events, the president often makes unscheduled stops at local restaurants and businesses, and sometimes pulls off on the side of the road to greet cheering crowds.

As his motorcade made its way from Buffalo to Syracuse, N.Y. , on Thursday, Obama stopped off in Rochester to have lunch at a restaurant with a small group of college students, recent graduates and their parents. He was to speak again Thursday afternoon at Henninger High School in Syracuse.

On Friday, Obama plans to hold a town hall meeting at Binghamton University, then travel to Scranton, Pa., for an event at Lackawanna College. Vice President Joe Biden, a Scranton native, is to join Obama in his hometown. Biden has spent much of the week in Houston, where his son Beau underwent a medical procedure at a cancer center.

The president’s highly secure bus was purchased by the Secret Service in 2011 for $1.1 million. The bus — referred to by some of Obama’s staff as “Ground Force One” — has dark tinted windows and flashing red and blue lights.

Comments

comments

The Associated Press

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    New design submitted for conference center

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Water and power have a troubling interdependency

    By New York Times News Service | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Bob Dunning: Fairness is an afterthought for them

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2

    Los Angeles march to commemorate Armenian killings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Hostage deaths a reminder of risk of ‘deadly mistakes’

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Walkers head out three times weekly

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4Comments are off for this post

     
    Got bikes? Donate ‘em!

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Need a new best friend?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Beginning tai chi classes start May 5

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    College Night set April 30 at DHS

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    School board hears report on health services

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A5

     
    Tour of co-ops precedes Sacramento conference

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

    Mamajowali will perform at benefit house concert

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6 | Gallery

     
    Explorit: Celebrate International Astronomy Day

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Learn basics of composting in Woodland

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

     
    Winkler Dinner raises funds for enology, viticulture activities

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Raptor Center welcomes visitors at May 2 open house

    By Trina Wood | From Page: A8 | Gallery

     
    Take a peek at region’s past at Tremont Mite Society’s social

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    BeerFest expands to include cider

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

     
    Mapping where human action is causing earthquakes

    By New York Times News Service | From Page: A9

    Hummingbird health: Appreciating the little things

    By Kat Kerlin | From Page: A12 | Gallery

     
    .

    Forum

    The fight for gender pay equity

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B4

     
    Thanks for supporting the arts

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

     
    Bike Swap another success

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    Drink is a tasteless insult

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: B4

    It’s a depressing beat

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    .

    Sports

    Rare DHS track loss still full of highlights

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    Lehner talks about the UCD student-athlete experience

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

    Reeling Blue Devils stop skid against Sheldon

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Aggie Spring Game environment will up the gridiron fun factor

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    DYSA roundup: Lester, Osborne lead Storm over Dixon

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

    Lady Demons’ fundraiser a smash hit

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

     
    Pro baseball roundup: River Cats lose their fourth straight

    By Staff and wire reports | From Page: B12

    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

     
    ‘Ex Machina': The perils of playing God

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A10 | Gallery

     
    Ceramicist works will be featured at The Artery

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11 | Gallery

    .

    Business

    Chamber expands Korean sister-city opportunities

    By Felicia Alvarez | From Page: A5 | Gallery

     
    Car Care: Tips for buying your first ATV

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B6

    Subaru goes rear-wheel drive with sporty BRZ coupe

    By Ann M. Job | From Page: B7 | Gallery

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Whitney Joy Engler

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Valente Forrest Dolcini

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Friday, April 24, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: B5