The President’s Plan to Tackle College Costs – An Early Look at What Stakeholders are Saying

Yesterday at the University of Buffalo, as part of his plan to offer a better bargain for the middle class, President Obama announced an ambitious new agenda to combat rising college costs, make college more affordable, and improve value for students and their families. As the President said in his speech, just tinkering around the edges won’t be enough. If we’re really serious about making sure that all qualified students have access to a quality and affordable college education, we have to fundamentally rethink how higher education is paid for in this country, shake up the system and build on innovation.

Reaching these goals will be a team effort with Congress, the President, colleges and universities, states and students all doing their part. And while the proposals the President laid out are bold and may not be popular with those who benefit from the status quo – we believe they are achievable. In fact many of the reforms the President put forth are built on innovative efforts already being put in place by university systems and campuses across the country, and many have bipartisan roots in the governors and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle who have been leaders in state efforts to promote competition and increase transparency.

Here’s a look at some of the initial reviews coming in from the higher education community and other stakeholders:

Muriel A. Howard, President of The American Association of State Colleges and Universities: “AASCU is very pleased that President Obama is continuing his commitment to the issue of college affordability, a concern of on-going relevance to us and our members… our goals are the same: to provide students with access to a quality, affordable education and to ensure that they succeed. Their success is America’s future.”

State Higher Education Executive Officers Association: “The Association Of State Higher Education Executive Officers is fully committed to increasing educational attainment in the United States and applauds the aims of the of the Obama Administration’s initiatives  to improve the adequacy and effectiveness of federal student financial assistance programs and to foster innovation to enhance student learning.”

Peter McPherson, President, Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities: “I am pleased to see President Obama continue his commitment to strengthening our higher education system to help ensure that students and families get the best value for their tuition dollars. 

National Council of La Raza President Janet Murguía: “We welcome the positive steps that the president has taken today to help rein in the cost of going to college… we look forward to working with the White House to implement some of the ideas discussed today, and we urge Congress—which also must act—to come to an agreement on legislation that will help mitigate the costs of obtaining higher education for our nation’s young people.”

Young Invincibles Co-Founder/Executive Director Aaron Smith: “President Obama's leadership around college affordability is exactly what students are looking for. Schools and states need to improve at keeping down college costs and debt levels, and at helping students graduate and get jobs. Many of the proposals laid out by the President are big steps forward that could truly shake up the broken status quo of our higher education system.”

Rock The Vote President Heather Smith: “We applaud the President for his plan to make college more affordable…the plan laid out in Buffalo, NY today addresses both the critical concern of making college more affordable for future students and their families, while also helping those current borrowers with overwhelming debt find a way out.”

Wade Henderson, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights: “President Obama’s bold plan to increase college affordability shows an enduring commitment to creating opportunities for all Americans to pursue higher education…we applaud the President’s continued commitment to increasing college affordability, mitigating student debt and increasing consumer awareness, and urge the administration and congress to take all necessary steps to ensure high quality college education is accessible and affordable to all Americans.”

Western Governors University President Robert Mendenhall: “We applaud President Obama for his leadership in seeking to reduce college costs by encouraging innovation and reducing regulatory barriers.  We particularly appreciate the President highlighting competency-based education and the use of technology as key drivers in reducing the cost and improving the quality of higher education.” 

Louisiana State University Chancellor F. King Alexander: “Today, President Obama outlined his initiative to tackle the ongoing national problem of the rising cost of college. We agree that college should remain affordable… we gladly welcome a new federal dialogue that will carefully take into account higher education prices, costs, and outcomes in the form of graduate benefits.”

Read President Obama's remarks at the University at Buffalo, the State University of New York


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Cecilia Muñoz is the Director of the Domestic Policy Council
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