Obama unveils college affordability plan

President Barack Obama on Thursday announced a plan aimed at lowering the cost of college tuition by tying it to a new university ranking system.

Working with Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan, the Obama Administration is set to have the program up-and-running by 2015, giving grants to colleges and universities that lower tuition fees, more graduates with less debt and higher post-graduation incomes a larger share of federal financial aid to nudge the sticker price down.

“We will help more students afford college; we’ll help more students graduate from college,” Obama said in a speech at the University of Buffalo, in Buffalo, N.Y. “We’ll help more students get rid of that debt, so they can get a good start in their careers.”

The plan would rate colleges’ thriftiness based on a congressionally-approved calculation. It would also reward colleges who graduate high numbers of Pell Grant recipients.

In the speech, Obama expanded on ideas outlined during his first term, most notably in his 2012 State of the Union Address.

“College has never been more expensive,” Obama said, pointing to skyrocketing tuition prices which have gone up 257 percent since 1982, “while the typical family income has only increased by 16 percent in the same years.

Obama mentioned that the U.S. spends more on prisons than it does education, a statement that holds true in Michigan, which spends an annual $2 billion on the Corrections Department.

The state spends $1.3 billion a year on education.

And tuition prices continue to go up, with MSU’s cost increasing by 2.8 percent this year, despite a slight boost in state aid, which has been declining for the last ten years.

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