How Obama would lower college costs—if he could

Updated
Graduates of the class of 2013 react to their commencement address given by U.S. President Barack Obama as rain falls during a spring downpour at Morehouse...
Graduates of the class of 2013 react to their commencement address given by U.S. President Barack Obama as rain falls during a spring downpour at Morehouse...
Jason Reed/Reuters

The president will lay out his plan to lower college costs over the next two weeks, outlining a plan to push federal aid and money into the most affordable schools that graduate the most students, while capping loan repayments at 10%.

But with Congressional gridlock threatening even the most basic functions, like funding the government, there’s little indication whether some of these proposals will ever be more than ideas.

At the core of the president’s plan to lower the cost of higher education is tying federal aid to college performance, based on a number of factors including affordability and graduation rates.

“We’re going to start to rank universities, understand who’s doing a good job and who’s not, and ultimately start to move financial aid, move resources towards those universities who are very serious about this mission,” Sec. of Education Arne Duncan said on Morning Joe Thursday.

The country currently spends $150 billion dollars in grants and loans each year.

Siphoning that money into the schools that are doing the best job, Duncan said, will promote healthy competition between schools that seek to keep costs down, graduation rates up, and give the best product to the students.

“We want to incentivize the good actors and say to those who aren’t serious about containing costs, about graduate rates, ‘hey, you have to change your behavior!’” Duncan said.

Any legislation accomplishing this key part of the plan would require Congressional approval.

The White House’s plan will also propose strengthening academic requirements for continuing student aid, like making sure students are on track to complete their degrees in a timely fashion.

Some elements of the president’s plan could be accomplished without Congress.

The White House plans to release an outcome-oriented ranking of colleges before the 2015 school year, which will give added transparency to the college process for high school students and their families.

“We want to provide much greater transparency so young people and their families can make great choices,” Duncan said.

Watch Duncan explain the president’s plan on Morning Joe.

How Obama would lower college costs—if he could

Updated