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Mass. Education Leaders Debate President Obama’s College Funding Proposal

President Barack Obama presented his proposal to make college more affordable at the University at Buffalo on Thursday, Aug. 22. (AP/Keith Srakocic)

President Barack Obama presented his proposal to make college more affordable at the University at Buffalo on Thursday, Aug. 22. (AP/Keith Srakocic)

The cost of college tuition and student debt continues to rise.

So President Obama is proposing a way to try to lower those expenses and give students more information about the long-term value of different colleges and universities — information such as how much debt graduates have, the average salary graduates make, and what percentage of students graduate within six years.

The president’s plan would rank schools according to these and other data. It would then attempt to tie federal student aid to those rankings.

Could President Obama’s proposal successfully push colleges and universities to reduce costs by increasing transparency? Or could it result in schools gaming the numbers and putting less emphasis on fields of study that may not lead to high-paying jobs?

WBUR’s Sacha Pfeiffer spoke with a roundtable of education experts about the plan.

Guests

Jon Marcus, freelance education writer and contributing editor at the Hechinger Report

Jackie Jenkins-Scott, president of Wheelock College (see the Obama administration’s College Scorecard for Wheelock College)

Marty Meehan, chancellor of the University of Massachusetts-Lowell (see the Obama administration’s College Scorecard for UMass Lowell)

More

NPR President Obama’s carrot-and-stick approach is the result of a growing frustration not just about rising costs but about the value of a college education and whether students are getting their money’s worth.

NPR While many of the early reactions were polite, the Obama proposal is likely to be controversial in academia because it would create yet another ranking system.

Project on Student Debt Two-thirds of college seniors who graduated in 2011 had student loan debt, with an average of $26,600 per borrower. Meanwhile, unemployment for young college graduates remained high at 8.8 percent in 2011.

WBUR Long-neglected community colleges are finally being given a much-needed funding boost — provided they can raise their graduation levels. But are they up to the challenge?


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