College tuition has tripled in the last decade or so, while household income remained at mostly the same level,” James Kvaal, deputy director of the White House Domestic Policy Council said recently at a forum staged by Washington Monthly.
As a result, “it’s on an unsustainable path…burdensome for the middle class…and increasingly risky.” President Obama’s ambitious college ratings plan, Kvaal said “includes a modest amount of federal funding.” On the other hand, . Kvaal flatly stated that punishment will not be an option for the administration for those who try to game the new college ratings system.
He spoke favorably of Georgia Tech, which offered an online master’s course for several of its programs. This online master’s program struck at the heart of the brick-and-mortar college institutions, whose professors were typically liberal. They supported Obama’s efforts except for his college ratings plan. As examples of higher education reform, Kvaal gave several examples of states that are using the right incentives with their public institutions. The irony was that two out of the three were “red states” that lean conservative: Tennessee and Indiana.
Kvaal broke down the initial ratings criteria as the following:
- Breakdown of disadvantaged students in the college;
- Tuition costs after scholarships are applied; and
- Creation of opportunity, or whether more disadvantaged students are enrolled at a particular college.
He said the White House planned to have it implemented by the fall of 2015 and admitted “it is going to take a great deal of work.” He compared it to the health care and medical service profession and said the “analogy is not perfect, but similarities are there.” If Kvaal meant ObamaCare, then maybe this ratings plan will also be delayed.
When members of the audience asked questions on how fair the ratings will be, Kvaal could only stall. Kvaal flatly stated that punishment will not be an option for the administration for those who try to game the new college ratings system. He went on to say if universities game the system, then that meant the ratings system must be working because it grabbed college administrator’s attention. But, he did not guarantee an audience member (who represented HBCU interests) of whether the ratings will be completely fair.
Spencer Irvine is a staff writer at Accuracy in Academia.
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