President Obama Outlines College Affordability Plan

on January 27, 2012

President Obama Outlines College Affordability PlanToday the White House issued a press release entitled “FACT SHEET: President Obama’s Blueprint for Keeping College Affordable and Within Reach for All Americans”, which contains a step-by-step breakdown of President Obama’s plans for helping make higher education more affordable and effective. Let’s take a look at the plan and see what the President has in store.

Plan Focuses on 5 Key Points Related to College Success

President Obama’s plan points to innovations in five key areas:

Reforming Student Aid to Provide Affordability and Value – It’s no secret that the rise in federal aid has caused colleges and universities to continually raise tuition in the hopes of soaking up more and more federal money. President Obama is looking to reforms that will move funds away from colleges that fail to keep tuition down and toward colleges that work hard to keep tuition affordable.

Race to the Top Targeted at Colleges – one of the most interesting announcements in the president’s plan was the creation of a Race to the Top targeted at college affordability and completion. This would involve a $1 billion investment in a competition which incentivizes states to move quickly on higher education reforms which focus on bringing down the costs of a college education, containing tuition increases, and making it easier for students to earn a degree.

First in the World Competition to Boost Graduation Rates – the “First in the World” competition is a $55 million plan to support public and private colleges in the development and implementation of strategies to boost graduation rates and student outcomes. This program is also intended to help schools implement practices that have shown to enhance teaching and learning, providing a better quality of education for their students.

College Scorecard Designed to Make Choice Easier – part of the president’s plan includes the development of a ‘college scorecard’ for every degree granting institution. The idea behind this scorecard is to provide students and their families with information regarding college costs, graduation rates, and possible earnings through a degree granted by that institution. This will help students make a better choice and find a school that can provide them with an affordable education that will lead to a career.

Federal Funding to Decrease College Costs – the release points out that the Obama administration has already made some of the largest investments in student financial aid since the founding of the G.I. Bill. In addition, President Obama is calling for a doubling of the number of work study jobs over the next five years, as well as pushing Congress to keep interest rates low for student borrowers.

Will These Measures Provide Real Support?

Only time will tell as to whether or not colleges and universities around the country are hearing what the Obama administration has to say and move to creating real changes that will affect students in a positive way. Schools are loathe to take on any project that has the potential for a negative impact to the budget, and unless federal dollars or legal changes force their hand, it’s likely that schools won’t change willingly.


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