Sunday, October 19, 2014
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

.

News

$18.75M grant aims to build global food security

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Return to sender: MRAP removal options go to council

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Housing First pilot project targets West Sac homeless

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1

Howzat! Cricket tradition grows in Davis

By Lily Holmes | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Hawaii hit by winds, rain as hurricane veers west

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
For the record

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

Evidentiary hearing set for man shot by CHP

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

 
Cop witnesses car-pedestrian collision

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

Safe viewing of solar eclipse planned

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

 
Fill the Boot for the hungry

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A3

Crash victim ID’d as Woodland man

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A3

 
Guns to be discharged at police range

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A3

Donate used books at Co-op

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Love-life tips on ‘Heart to Heart’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Wolk sets ‘Morning with the Mayor’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Volunteers sought to chip in on parks cleanup

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

DHS ski and snowboard swap set on Nov. 9

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Quiz Master Gardeners at open house

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Firefighters on the town

By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: A3

Senior Computer Club hears from county official

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Celebrate origami at Davis library

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Esparto home targeted in three-city pot bust

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A4

 
Apply by Friday for Biberstein grants

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Wolk earns perfect score from senior advocates

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

UCD celebrates 50 years of global agricultural success

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9 | Gallery

 
Special education information night scheduled

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A11

Be on the lookout for tagged Monarch butterflies

By Kathy Keatley Garvey | From Page: A16 | Gallery

 
.

Forum

Old news disturbs the present

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Are we there yet? Yik Yakking the day away

By Tanya Perez | From Page: A8

Take time to reach out for help

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: A8

 
A bionic hand with feeling

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

Ain’t Snow Mountain high enough

By Our View | From Page: A14

 
Proposed lights harm kids

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A14

Teach cyclists to obey laws

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A14

 
Let’s take Davis’ energy future seriously

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A14

Be careful cycling on Fifth

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A15

 
Water theater isn’t fun

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A15

Elect Granda to board

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A15

 
Yes on Prop. 47: reasonable changes to curb recidivism, save money

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A15

No on Prop. 47: an end to safe neighborhoods, and more victims

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A15

 
.

Sports

Vargas emerges from crowded Aggie WR corps

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Competitive Aggies fall at No. 6/7 Montana

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Devils stick it to Chico, cancer

By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

JV Devils fall to Franklin

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

 
Niemi leads Sharks to win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

UCD roundup: Big crowd sees Aggies nip Guachos

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
.

Features

.

Arts

.

Business

 
Davis is a temple for fine beverages

By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Arcadia Biosciences earns spot on global innovation list

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

 
35 employers will be at West Sac job fair

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

Rob White: Building an economy on innovation

By Rob White | From Page: A6

 
.

Obituaries

Peggy Belenis Swisher

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Sadie Louise Barga

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

Morgan Wheeler

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Comics: Sunday, October 19, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B8