President Obama’s College Rating Plan

American universities respond to President Obama’s cost-cutting push to rank them by “value,” and punish the losers.

President Barack Obama speaks about college financial aid, at Lackawanna College in Scranton, Pa., Friday, Aug. 23, 2013 the last stop on his two-day bus tour of upstate New York and Pennsylvania. (AP)

President Barack Obama speaks about college financial aid, at Lackawanna College in Scranton, Pa., Friday, Aug. 23, 2013 the last stop on his two-day bus tour of upstate New York and Pennsylvania. (AP)

You want a job?  Get a college education, we’re told.  But the cost of college goes up and up.  So does student debt.

Last week, President Obama stepped squarely into the fray.  To make colleges and universities more accountable and affordable, he said.  First, by ranking every college on a best value scale.  Rank them by affordability, graduation rates, graduate debt and earnings.

And then the kicker.  The stick.  President Obama wants Washington to base federal support on those rankings.  A crowbar to rein in college costs.

This hour, On Point:  the President’s plan, academia’s response.

– Tom Ashbrook


Roberto Rodriguez, special assistant to President Obama for education policy. Former chief education counsel for Senator Ted Kennedy.

Judith Scott-Clayton, professor of economics and education at Columbia University’s Teacher College. Senior research associate at the Community College Research Center

Bob Hildreth, founder and chairman of the nonprofit organization FUEL Education (Families United in Educational Leadership).

From Tom’s Reading List

Businessweek: Obama’s College Ratings Will Shape Student Loans — “Striking a populist pose today at the University of Buffalo, President Barack Obama said the government will create a rating system for higher education, scoring colleges in areas including average tuition, loan debt, and what graduates earn after getting their diplomas. The idea is to eventually tie student loans to these scores, directing more students to more affordable institutions and reining in the $1 trillion of outstanding federal loans.”

The New York Times: On Bus Tour, Obama Seeks to Shame Colleges Into Easing Costs — “President Obama deplored the rising costs of college on Thursday as he tried to shame universities into holding down prices. He held out the prospect of more federal student aid if they did.”

Los Angeles Times: Obama’s college ratings plan could backfire — “The United States didn’t develop its great universities by reducing higher education to equations of graduation rates and job placement. Yet on Thursday, the Obama administration revealed a plan that would push colleges in that very direction and could harm some of the students the president most wants to help.”

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