Obama to unveil college-rating system to lower cost of higher education

President Obama on Thursday will unveil a new system to rate colleges on their affordability as he pushes proposals to help keep down the cost of higher education.

The rating system which is slated to go into effect before the 2015 school year would rank colleges on criteria including cost of tuition, graduation rates, student debt and graduate earnings, according to a White House fact sheet explaining the proposal.

Obama’s plan would also ask Congress to tie federal financial aid grants to a school’s rankings to encourage students to attend high-performing colleges.

ADVERTISEMENT
“It’s important to us that colleges offer good value for their tuition dollars, and that higher education offer families a degree of security so students aren’t left with debt they can’t pay back,” a senior administration official told The New York Times about the plan.

The White House said the average student borrower now leaves school with more than $26,000 in loans and cited declining state aid, which they said forced young people to shoulder more of the financial costs of higher education.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan argued the new plan would increase transparency and put pressure on universities to keep costs down and improve graduation rates.

“We want to incentivize the good actors and say to those that aren't serious about containing costs, that aren't serious about graduation rates, 'Hey, you need to change your behavior,'” Duncan said in an appearance on MSNBC.

Obama will unveil his proposal as he begins a two-day bus tour of New York and Pennsylvania focused on keeping higher education affordable. The stops are the latest in Obama’s summertime effort to direct attention on economic issues and press policies the White House says will aid the middle class.

In an email to supporters on Tuesday, Obama warned that his plans would not be “popular with everyone” and said he expected opposition from those “who’ve made higher education their business.”

The president said the policies he would unveil would make “colleges work better for the students they exist to serve.”

Obama will stop in Buffalo, Binghamton and Syracuse, N.Y., as well as Scranton, Pa.

This story was updated at 9:09 a.m.