The State of College Affordability
College students across America watched with hopes of better higher education policies and economic boosts as President Obama addressed the nation in his first State of the Union since reelection on Tuesday.
His report card – somewhere in the B range.
With 46 members of the U.S. Congress still carrying student loan debt and an economy with more recent grads looking for work than jobs exist, this is the time for a strong stand from President Obama and Congress against the ever-increasing price of college tuition and need for financial aid.
The President delivered a positive plan for students in his address, but it was also a plan with many holes and gaps in it.
Where did he go right? Where did he go wrong? What can be improved? Here is the President’s College Report Card:
College Affordability and Opportunity Report Card
Making a diploma count: B
President Obama seemed to be most focused on those who will not attend college or are working towards an Associate’s degree. Yes, these students often need the most help, but what about those students who are working towards a Bachelor’s degree or higher? Many jobs require higher degrees, one example being teaching, but pay less while costing more because of a need for more years in school and the rising costs of tuition.
“Let’s also make sure that a high school diploma puts our kids on a path to a good job.” -President Obama
Creating incentives for schools and students: B
Students in high school are going to need higher degrees, especially to compete in the burgeoning technology industry that requires strong math and science skills. President Obama realizes no student can leave high school with a degree that will allow them to enter the industry. Aspiring engineers often will need 5 years of undergraduate studies. That means one year more of paying tuition than most of their peers. Those in the medical field will need graduate and doctoral degrees which means many more years of high tuition and low wages before they can begin their own practice. Although a good idea, the practicality and overall effect is questionable.
“Reward schools that develop new partnerships with colleges and employers, and create classes that focus on science, technology, engineering, and math…” -President Obama
Federal Aid Policy: B
Obama laid out a plan that makes a lot of sense at its core and should help provide a reassessment for universities. The problem is that students who are able to attend more expensive, prestigious private universities because of the aid they receive could be negatively affected.
“Tonight, I ask Congress to change the Higher Education Act, so that affordability and value are included in determining which colleges receive certain types of federal aid.” -President Obama
Doing something about ever-increasing tuition costs: B
President Obama’s biggest commitment to doing something about lowering tuition came in the form of an online site dedicated to searching for the cost and graduation rates at universities across America. Most of the information made available by the Obama Administration on Wednesday on their new online College Scorecard was already available, according to the New York Times. Other information is outdated or already available from the federal government at the College Navigator from the NCES. Although the website can be helpful and could be an incentive for universities to cut back on costs or give more aid to have a more favorable picture to potential students, its widespread use is doubtful and it seems a minimal incentive for colleges.
“My Administration will release a new “College Scorecard” that parents and students can use to compare schools based on a simple criteria: where you can get the most bang for your educational buck. ” -President Obama
Do you agree with my report card? Comment with what I missed and where I went right or wrong.
Disclaimer: I am a GW College Democrat and a strong Obama supporter