Hmm: Obama unveils new plan for college-rating system and federal aid

Yeesh. Another day, another way in which President Obama endeavoring to institute policies that nip at the heels of runaway problems without actually fixing said problems.

Here’s the plan in full, and and as summarized by WaPo:

President Obama declared a crisis in the soaring cost of higher education here Thursday and unveiled a broad new plan that aims to make college education more affordable by tying federal financial aid to new college ratings.

The plan, which Obama rolled out as he opened a two-day campaign-style bus tour of college campuses, would create a rating system beginning in 2015 to evaluate colleges on tuition, the percentage of low-income students, graduation rates and debt of graduates.

Eventually, as an incentive for schools to make improvements in these areas, federal financial aid would be awarded based on those ratings. Obama said he could create the ratings system through executive action, but the plan to reallocate federal aid based on the ratings would require congressional approval.

The ever-rising rates of tuition inflation and student debt are certainly massive problems for the health and structure of our economy, but one of the largest factors that has contributed to them is the cheap and easy availability of federally subsidized students loans that have shaped the decision-making of young people over other options and allowed colleges to keep hiking their prices. It certainly doesn’t sound like the worst thing his administration has ever come up with, but I’m not convinced that the proposal is going to do much to get at the underlying problem and I’m pretty sure there could be some pretty nasty unintended consequences — the sort of which top-down government interference is wont to beget. Like the student-loan crisis in the first place. I’m no education expert, though — see NRO, Marginal Revolution, and ViaMeadia for some good thoughts.

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