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Obama's 'striking' assault on rising college tuition
The president wants to give less federal money to schools when they hike fees. Is that the key to bringing costs down?
 
President Obama speaks to students at the University of Michigan on Friday: Obama promised to pressure Congress to help keep college affordable for all Americans.
President Obama speaks to students at the University of Michigan on Friday: Obama promised to pressure Congress to help keep college affordable for all Americans.
Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

President Obama wants to slow the rise in higher education costs by steering federal money to colleges that keep tuition down. Obama said last week that schools have a responsibility to lower costs because higher education "is not a luxury; it's an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford." Colleges can't "just jack up tuition every single year," the president said. "If you can't stop tuition from going up, your funding from taxpayers will go down." Will Obama's attempt to rein in runaway tuition work?

This stance is long overdue: How "striking," says Kevin Carey at The New Republic. "For the first time, a Democratic president is threatening the funding of his bedrock liberal constituency in traditional higher education." The president's proposal is "welcome and necessary" — and only someone with Obama's liberal credentials could even try to take on such a sacred cow. But it won't be easy. "The higher education lobby is one of the best in the business," and you can bet it will work hard to "scuttle any meaningful reforms."
"Obama vs. colleges: It's about time!"

But Obama might hurt struggling schools: Higher ed costs are rising twice as fast as inflation, says Kayla Webley at TIME. So of course, giving colleges an incentive to lower tuition "sounds like a great thing on its face." But at the same time, state universities have "just sustained record-high cutbacks," and some state schools won't be able to make ends meet if they don't make students pay more. Denying universities a share of billions in federal aid will only compound financial problems that many colleges can't control.
"Obama wants to force colleges to reduce tuition, but at what cost?"

It won't happen with this Congress: There's a deal-breaking "catch" here, says California's Santa Cruz Sentinel in an editorial. Most of what Obama wants to do would require approval from Congress. Obama is hoping to boost federal funding in the Perkins student loan program from $1 billion to $8 billion, and then dish that extra money out to universities that keep tuitions low. But House Republicans aren't on board, arguing that Obama's plan would "just add spending when the national debt of $1.2 trillion is a looming disaster." So much for reform.
"Big flaw with Obama college plan"

 

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