Tonawanda News

Obama visits WNY

August 22, 2013

Obama seeks 'better bargain' for college

AMHERST — President Barack Obama on Thursday became the first sitting president since Millard Fillmore in 1853 to speak at the University at Buffalo, as he outlined a sweeping overhaul of the nation's higher education system aimed at delivering "a better bargain" for the middle class.

"We can't price the middle class and everybody trying to get into the middle class out of a higher education," he said, adding that keeping soaring tuition costs in check is an "economic imperative" that, if not addressed, could "stifle economic mobility for generations."

Citing his administration's own estimates, Obama said average tuition to the nation's public four-year colleges and universities has increased by 250 percent in the last three decades, while income has risen just 16 percent over the same period. He said the projected cost of a higher education has become "a crisis in terms of college affordability and student debt." 

An average college student now graduates from a four-year school saddled with $26,000 in debt.

"The system's current trajectory is not sustainable," he said before proposing a three-part reform initiative. 

His first proposal is the creation of a new government rating system for colleges and universities to help students and parents more accurately judge a school's affordability and cost-effectiveness. A college's rating would in turn dictate the disbursement of federal aid to students.

The plan, based on criteria yet to be determined, ideally would be implemented prior to the 2015 school year, he said, and would take into account graduation rates, average tuition, student loan debt and a student's earning potential after graduation as factors in the school's overall performance rating.

"There are schools out there that have higher default rates than graduation rates," Obama said. "It's time to stop rewarding schools that are not producing results." 

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Obama visits WNY
  • 130822 Obama 6 crop.jpg Obama seeks 'better bargain' for college

    In a return visit to Western New York, president outlines some sweeping changes to student loans and higher education funding from the stage at UB's Alumni Arena.

    August 22, 2013 2 Photos

  • 130822 obama 7.jpg Youthful crowd embraces college reform agenda

    Roaring their approval when a video screen showed Air Force One landing in Cheektowaga — and again when Obama bounded on stage — those in attendance offered the nation's commander-in-chief a hearty Western New York welcome.

    August 22, 2013 1 Photo

  • 130822 obama protesters 1.jpg For protesters, Obama visit is a chance to be heard

    President Obama's second visit to Western New York since taking office drew thousands to the University at Buffalo's north campus. Though not everyone gathered on UB's campus was there to hear the president speak. Some were there to have their own voices heard.

    August 22, 2013 2 Photos

  • 130821 obama visit 1.jpg Obama to visit region today

    Obama to visit WNY today for national address on higher education reform

    August 22, 2013 1 Photo

  • College costs are on the rise

    August 22, 2013

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