8/22/2013 2:09:00 PM Obama proposes system for rating colleges
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama today unveiled a sweeping new plan for rating colleges based in part on affordability, with the goal of eventually linking those ratings to federal financial aid awards.
The new ratings system, which the president wants implemented before the 2015 school year, would evaluate colleges on a series of measures, including average tuition and student loan debt, graduation rates, and the average earnings of graduates. Obama is also seeking legislation to link the new rating system to the way federal financial aid is awarded, with students attending highly-rated schools receiving larger grants and more affordable student loans.
Obama unveiled the proposals today as he opened a two-day bus tour through New York and Pennsylvania.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the Obama administration wants to “understand who is doing a good job and who is not and start to move financial aid, move resources, toward those universities that are serious about this mission.”
According to Obama administration estimates, average tuition costs at four-year public colleges have more than tripled over the last three decades. The average student loan borrower also graduates with over $26,000 in debt.
To keep schools from gaming the ratings by enrolling only high-performing students, the president is also proposing legislation to give colleges a “bonus” based on the number of students they graduate who received Pell Grants. The goal is to encourage colleges to enroll and graduate low- and moderate-income students.
The Republican chairman of the House committee that oversees education did not embrace the proposal but said he would examine it. “I remain concerned that imposing an arbitrary college ranking system could curtail the very innovation we hope to encourage - and even lead to federal price controls,” Committee on Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline of Minnesota said in a statement.