Obama plans college ranking to lower tuition

The US government is to develop a new system of ranking colleges and universities in a bid to ensure the “best value” institutions have access to the most federal funding.

August 22, 2013

In an extensive speech on college affordability, delivered at the University at Buffalo, US president Barack Obama said the new rating system would be introduced by the start of the 2015-16 academic year.

It would, he claimed, take into account measures such as graduation rates, quality of tuition, and whether colleges were “helping people from all backgrounds to succeed”.

“A higher education is the single best investment you can make in your future,” Mr Obama said, adding that colleges should be ranked “not just by which are the most selective”, but in order of those offering “the best value”. “Colleges that keep their tuition down…are the ones that will see their taxpayer funding go up,” he said.

In his State of The Union address in February, Mr Obama said that it was unsustainable for taxpayers to keep subsidising the “higher and higher and higher” costs of tertiary education, and said the government would ensure that colleges kept their costs down. Over the past three decades, the average tuition at a public four-year college has risen by more than 250 per cent.

Elsewhere in his Buffalo speech, Mr Obama said changes to how students receive federal aid were also to be introduced.

“We need to make sure that if you get financial aid, then you get a degree,” he said. “We are going to make sure that students who receive federal aid complete their courses before receiving their grant for the next semester.”

He added that there would be “flexibility” built in to ensure students from poorer backgrounds, or with unusual circumstances, were not penalised.

Mr Obama also promised to ensure more was done to make graduates aware of their loan repayment options.

chris.parr@tsleducation.com

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