Obama bus tour pushes higher education reforms

Posted By KRISTEN BUTLER, UPI.com  |  Aug. 22, 2013 at 8:14 AM
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President Barack Obama is staying focused on domestic issues even as Egypt and Syria continue to demand attention, launching a bus tour to push for higher education reform.

The two-day tour through New York and Pennsylvania will begin Thursday when Obama unveils his college plan at the State University of New York at Buffalo at 11 a.m.

"To create a better bargain for the middle class, we have to fundamentally rethink how higher education is paid for in this country," the White House said in advance of the tour.

Though details haven't been fully released, the President will propose a new college rating system that would evaluate schools based on average tuition, graduation rates, average graduate earning, and average student loan debt.

In his most recent State of the Union address, Obama said an online "College Scorecard" of information would help students and families "compare schools based on a simple criteria -- where you can get the most bang for your educational buck."

Obama also called on Congress to disburse federal aid to colleges based on schools' value for money.

The complete reform proposal will be revealed through a series of stops Thursday and Friday. After speaking at SUNY Buffalo Thursday morning, Obama is scheduled to speak at Henninger High School in Syracuse about 6 p.m.

On Friday, Obama will hold a town hall meeting at SUNY Binghamton. Vice President Joe Biden will then head to his hometown of Scranton, Pa. join Obama for an event at Lackawanna College.

The average four-year college tuition is estimated to have tripled in the last three decades, even as family incomes hardly increased. Students who take out loans are left with an average $26,000 debt after graduation.

The President has held events throughout the summer delivering his "middle class agenda," which has addressed housing market reforms, economic reforms, infrastructure and manufacturing.

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