clear
Tuesday May 31st, 2016 6:01PM

Obama decries rising cost of college education

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- President Barack Obama called Friday for an overhaul of the higher education financial aid system, warning that colleges and universities that fail to control spiraling tuition costs could lose federal funds.

The election year proposal was also a political appeal to young people and working families, two important voting blocs for Obama. But the initiative faces long odds in Congress, which must approve nearly all aspects of the president's plan.

Speaking to students at the University of Michigan, Obama said he was "putting colleges on notice" that the era of unabated tuition hikes is over.

"You can't assume that you'll just jack up tuition every single year. If you can't stop tuition from going up, then the funding you get from taxpayers each year will go down," Obama said on the final stop of a three-day post-State of the Union trip to promote components of his economic agenda.

Obama told the largely supportive student audience that the nation's economic future depended on making sure every American can afford a world-class education.

"In the coming decade, 60 percent of new jobs will require more than a high school diploma," he said. "Higher education is not a luxury. It's an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford."

The president first announced the outlines of the financial aid proposal during Tuesday's State of the Union address. His plan targets what is known as "campus based" aid given to colleges to distribute in areas such as Perkins loans or in work study programs. Of the $142 billion in federal grants and loans distributed in the last school year, about $3 billion went to these programs. His plan calls for increasing that type of aid to $10 billion annually.

He also wants to create a "Race to the Top" competition in higher education similar to the one his administration used on K-12 to encourage states to better use higher education dollars in exchange for $1 billion in prize dollars. A second competition called "First in the World" would encourage innovation to boost productivity on campuses.

Obama is also pushing for the creation of new tools to allow students to determine which colleges and universities have the best value.

Education secretary, Arne Duncan, said Friday that institutions of higher learning should get federal dollars based in part on their performance.

"Historically, we've funded universities whether or not they've done a good job of graduating people, whether or not they've done a good job of keeping down tuition," Duncan said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

Some in the higher education community are nervous that the Obama administration could be setting a new precedent in the federal government's role in controlling the rising costs of college.

The administration has already taken a series of steps to expand the availability of grants and loans and to make loans easier to pay back. During the State of the Union, Obama spelled out other proposals to make college more affordable, such as extending a tuition tax break and asking Congress to keep loan interest rates from doubling in July.

His administration has also targeted career college programs - primarily at for-profit institutions - with high loan default rates among graduates over multiple years by taking away their ability to participate in such programs.

But until now, the administration has done little to turn its attention to the rising cost of tuition at traditional colleges and universities.

The average in-state tuition and fees at four-year public colleges last fall rose 8.3 percent and, with room and board, now exceed $17,000 a year, according to the College Board. Rising tuition costs have been blamed on a variety of factors, including a decline in state dollars, an over-reliance on federal student loan dollars and competition for the best facilities and professors.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., a former education secretary, said the autonomy of U.S. higher education is what makes it the best in the world, and he's questioned whether Obama can enforce any plan that shifts federal aid away from colleges and universities without hurting students.

"It's hard to do without hurting students, and it's not appropriate to do," Alexander said. "The federal government has no business doing this."
© Copyright 2016 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Doctors: Blood clot located in Clinton's head
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton developed a blood clot in her head but did not suffer a stroke or neurological damage, her doctors said Monday. They say they are confident that she will make a full recovery.
3:55PM ( 3 years ago )
Illinois Sen. Kirk to return a year after stroke
Nearly a year after a stroke left him barely able to move the left side of his body, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk is expected to climb the 45 steps to the Senate's front door this week - a walk that's significant not just for Illinois' junior senator, but also for medical researchers and hundreds of thousands of stroke patients.
3:54PM ( 3 years ago )
U.S. News
Amid shouts of 'shame,' House GOP defeats gay rights measure
Democrats shouted "shame," but House Republicans switched their votes and defeated a measure to protect gay rights
8:03PM ( 1 week ago )
CDC director Freiden warns GOP Zika bill is inadequate
The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Wednesday that a House GOP measure to combat the Zika virus is inadequate to deal with the swelling threat to public health
7:36PM ( 1 week ago )
Trump unveils list of his top picks for Supreme Court
Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, released Wednesday a list of 11 potential Supreme Court justices he plans to vet to fill the seat of late Justice Antonin Scalia if he's elected to the White House.
3:31PM ( 1 week ago )
1st US penis transplant could bring hope to maimed soldiers
A 64-year-old cancer patient has received the nation's first penis transplant, a groundbreaking operation that may also help U.S. veterans maimed by roadside bombs
8:04PM ( 2 weeks ago )
States dig in against directive on transgender bathroom use
Politicians in Texas, Arkansas and elsewhere are vowing defiance over the Obama administration's new directive on transgender bathroom use
9:19PM ( 2 weeks ago )