Campus Presidents Detest Obama’s New Higher Ed Plan

Dec 21, 2013 by

Andrew Desiderio –

Most college presidents detest President Barack Obama’s new plan that would rank universities based on several factors and give students who attend higher-ranked colleges larger and cheaper federal loans, saying the president’s propsal will be ineffective and mainly benefit the wealthiest campuses.

That according to a new poll by Gallup and Inside Higher Ed, a survey that garnered responses from 675 university presidents and represents the latest part of a larger backlash from college presidents who have voiced doubts about whether Obama’s plan will indeed make higher education more affordable.

The plan, proposed in August, calls for a new university ratings system based on factors such as average tuition rates, student debt, graduation and transfer rates, and the percentage of low-income students receiving federal Pell grants. Under the proposal, students who attend higher-ranked colleges would be eligible for larger and cheaper federal loans.

But the survey found most presidents, 52 percent, believe the wealthiest colleges will end up unfairly earning some the best scores on Obama new ratings chart because, as Inside Higher Ed reported: “The wealthiest institutions … tend to attract the best-prepared students (and so have high graduation rates), enroll students who are well-connected (which, combined with their good preparation, lands them good jobs) and have the endowments to support generous financial aid packages.”

What’s more, the survey found only 2 percent of college presidents believe the proposal will be “very effective” in making college more affordable, while a healthy majority – 59 percent – said the plan would be either “not too effective” or “not effective at all.”

According to the survey, only 16 percent think it’s a “good idea” to link federal financial aid to an institution’s performance on the new ranking system.

In addition, only 13 percent “agree” or “strongly agree” students will use the new information provided by the Department of Education to make informed decisions in selecting and evaluating higher education institutions, while 56 percent “disagree” or “strongly disagree” that students will be able to use the information to their advantage.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan responded to the recent backlash in part by saying: “Yes, I have lots of sympathy for universities but we need to listen to real students and real parents and I think we have a huge obligation to do a much better job by them than we’re doing today.”

The plan comes at a time when federal student debt has increased significantly over the past few years – an increase of 463 percent since President Obama took office in 2009.

But the proposal does not address what many contend is the true cause of that increase: which is that the federal government subsidizes the college-loan industry, giving colleges an incentive to raise tuition costs, as administrators know the government can pay whatever each student cannot afford.

It remains to be seen when the proposal will go before Congress, but it has yet to be scheduled for a hearing.

via Campus Presidents Detest Obama’s New Higher Ed Plan, Says It Benefits Wealthy Universities.

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