Obama puts colleges on notice: Lower tuition or face reduced funding

The election year proposal was also a political appeal to young people and working families, two important voting blocs for Obama.

Jacquelyn Martin/AP/File
In this Oct. 6, 2011 photo, Gan Golan, of Los Angeles, dressed as the 'Master of Degrees,' holds a ball and chain representing his college loan debt, during Occupy DC activities in Washington.

President Barack Obama called Friday for an overhaul of the higher education financial aid system, warning that colleges and universities that fail to control spiraling tuition costs could lose federal funds.

The election year proposal was also a political appeal to young people and working families, two important voting blocs for Obama. But the initiative faces long odds in Congress, which must approve nearly all aspects of the president's plan.

Speaking to students at the University of Michigan, Obama said the nation's economic future would depend in large part on making sure every American can afford a world-class education.

"We are putting colleges on notice," Obama said. "You can't assume that you'll just jack up tuition every single year. If you can't stop tuition from going up, then the funding you get from taxpayers each year will go down."

Obama first announced the outlines of the financial aid proposal during Tuesday's State of the Union address. His plan targets what is known as "campus based" aid given to colleges to distribute in areas such as Perkins loans or in work study programs. Of the $142 billion in federal grants and loans distributed in the last school year, about $3 billion went to these programs. His plan calls for increasing that type of aid to $10 billion annually.

He also wants to create a "Race to the Top" competition in higher education similar to the one his administration used on K-12 to encourage states to better use higher education dollars in exchange for $1 billion in prize dollars. A second competition called "First in the World" would encourage innovation to boost productivity on campuses.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.