Obama Administration Evaluates College Costs
United States President Barack Obama has spoken out on the affordability of college education, arguing that tuition costs are increasing too rapidly.
The president, who addressed the issue of rising tuition costs at a speech at the University of Michigan as well as in his State of the Union address, described a wide range of plans that he views as paramount to a nation so burdened with monthly debts.
The president’s proposals include a new program he appropriately calls his ‘One Billion Dollar Race to the Top,’ a competition to reward states that both suppress the increase in college tuition and better configure their students’ academic plans so as to better align the students’ kindergarten through twelfth grade years with post-secondary education.
“We are putting colleges on notice– you can’t keep…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 tax payers each year will go down,” Obama said in his speech in Ann Arbor Michigan. “We should push colleges to do better. We should hold them accountable if they don’t.”
The president also proposed a plan in the hopes of improving the current student-loan distribution system, the process by which education-based loans and campus employment opportunities are given to university students.
Reactions to the president’s aims to make college more affordable have been mixed–especially on Capitol Hill, where the usual partisan banter between Democrats and Republicans has been occurring, particularly in this election year.
“The president has proposed a number of interesting ideas that deserve a careful review,” said Republican Chairman to the House Education Committee John Kline, from Minnesota, in an article in The Huffington Post.
In addition to his speech in Michigan, the president also dealt with the issue of education in his State of the Union address, saying that his administration would like to combat the nation’s secondary-school drop-out rate.
“I call on every state to require that all students stay in high school until they graduate,” said Obama.
Furthermore, Obama would like college and university tuition plans to be more transparent in order for students and their families to better understand what they’re paying for, and what to expect before committing themselves to a single university. To make this possible, and for students to explore their options with more ease, Obama wishes to mandate that colleges and universities offer what he calls a ‘shopping sheet’– a chart that lays out financial details, such as tuition aid packages, alongside a compilation of post-graduate employment information and earning capabilities. Such a move would give future graduates a better picture of what awaits them. The president’s ‘shopping sheet’ would be the first of its kind in the nation.
With the nation’s students– the next generation of this country’s work force– engulfed in tuition debts, affordable education has become a hot-button issue in recent years.
Here at Catholic University, for example, tuition has been increased by three percent for the upcoming academic year. The cost of an undergraduate’s tuition will now be $36,320, up $1,060 from this year’s tuition.
Politicians, including the incumbent Obama (who is up for re-election in November), have been criticized for using protests such as the ‘Occupy’ movement, which have spread like wildfire throughout the continental United States and eventually through Europe, as a ploy to boost their chances in elections.
Obama’s goal in his post-secondary education plan is to compel universities to stop increasing tuition faster than the rate of inflation. For many universities– especially smaller schools– there is no option other than tuition increases, and being cut-off from federal aid for failing to curtail tuition hikes would only make financial matters worse. While the president wants to relieve financial burdens on students, that very same burden will be placed somewhere else, most likely on the universities themselves.