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Obama proposes rating plan for college affordability

By Jaccii Farris, Reporter, JFarris@wfmz.com
Published On: Aug 22 2013 05:06:11 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 22 2013 06:36:43 PM CDT

President Obama wants to make education a better bargain for the middle class.

President Obama wants to make education a better bargain for the middle class.

Mr. Obama wants a national ranking system for colleges and universities that will be tied to federal funding.

It's new student orientation day at Cedar Crest College in Allentown and at Penn State's Lehigh Valley Campus in Center Valley.

Both institutions say most of their incoming freshmen rely heavily on financial aid.

"Whether we are talking about a two year program, a four year program, a technical certificate, bottom line is higher education cannot be a luxury," said Obama.

Obama says a new ranking system that ties federal funding to graduation rates and student loan debt will make higher education more affordable.

"What we want to do is rate them on who is offering the best value so students and taxpayers get a bigger bang for their buck," said Obama.

The president says the system will reward institutions that make quality education more accessible.

And help students avoid racking up a mountain of debt they can't repay.

The president says it will also encourage states to make education funding a higher priority.

But some say a ranking system may not be the best way to go.

"I think it implies to parents and to families that colleges are a one size fits all, that you can just kind of put them in a box and measure them," said Dr. Carmen Twillie Ambar, President of Cedar Crest College.

"There's a lot of statistics out there that they are going to have to look at but the quality is going to be very difficult to assess," said Dr. Ann Williams, Chancellor of Penn State University's Lehigh Valley Campus.

The secretary of education will be meeting with colleges and university officials across the country to iron out the details.

The president says the system will be in place by 2015.