The President's Bus Tour To Discuss Higher Education

ObamaBusDuring the middle of August parents are taking their children back to college and tuition is on their minds. Most folks who have a child in college at this point have saved money for years, or they have taken out a loan to finance higher education. If your family is middle class, you are robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Each year the cost of education goes up, and there has been little consensus among policymakers, and lawmakers on how to control or limit college costs. Tuition costs at public, four year universities have tripled over the last 30 years and the average student loan stands at $26,000.


In June 2013, I wrote, “There is something fundamentally wrong according to Huffington Post, when 53.6% of all college graduates in 2012 cannot find a job, or are underemployed. Tuitions are continuing to rise and college education or some form of higher education is needed to get a good paying job.”
Most Americans forget during this period there was a major fight to raise the interest rate of federal subsidized loans, and eventually the Senate and the House gave final approval to a bill that based interest on government sponsored student borrowing to a market based rate. This new compromise ensured almost 9 million undergraduates will pay 3.86%, instead of 3.4% on their next federal subsidized loan. Each year the students would know the rate, and they would lock that rate in for the life of the loan.

“While I am pleased the president’s new plan recognizes the importance of promoting innovation and competition in higher education, I remain concerned that imposing an arbitrary college ranking system could curtail the very innovation we hope to encourage, and even lead to federal price controls. I look forward to examine the president’s proposal further as part of the committee’s ongoing efforts to reauthorize the Higher Education Act and help improve college affordability and access,” says Rep. John Kline, R-Minn.

The purpose of the president’s two day bus tour through New York and Pennsylvania last week was to lay out new educational reforms for higher education. President Obama will direct the Department of Education to develop and publish a new college ratings system before the start of 2015 school year. The president plans to propose legislation to give colleges a bonus to encourage the enrollment of low and moderate-income students.

On paper this idea sounds great, but most colleges are in business to make a profit. I applaud the president for being innovative and trying to force more colleges to focus on being more affordable, but the majority of schools are raising their prices. Requirements to qualify for student loans have gotten harder in 2012, and many Blacks and Brown students have lost their financing.

There are thousands of Black and Brown students who did not qualify for loans this year, and many HBCU’s will find it difficult to pay their bills with smaller enrollments. The president has an uphill battle, and his heart is in the right place, and the policymakers will determine if the new rating system makes sense.

Higher education in America is a privilege, and parents and students must pay for that opportunity. A diploma gives an individual access to a higher class and a middle class lifestyle. The leaders in our society lead as a result of higher education and our community must re-emphasize to the young generation the necessity of a higher education.

The president can talk about making college education affordable, but it will always cost, and if a student wants it, they will have to pay. Americans are fortunate that Kindergarten through High School is free, and we must to pay for only higher education. The major question on the table at this time is; “Can the president, lawmakers, and policymakers reduce the price of higher education and still give quality?”