Duncan Calls for Urgency in Lowering College Costs

Ann McClure's picture

Education Secretary Arne Duncan in a speech Tuesday pushed higher education officials to “think more creatively — and with much greater urgency — about how to contain the spiraling costs of college and reduce the burden of student debt on our nation’s students.”

At a time when the Occupy movement has helped push college costs into the national spotlight, the Education Department characterized the speech, delivered in Las Vegas, as the start of a “national conversation about the rising cost of college.” The department took the opportunity to call attention to steps the Obama administration has taken to reduce the net price that students and families pay for higher education and make it easier to pay back student loans.

The widespread anger over rising college costs came into sharp focus Monday, with student protests in New York and California.

In New York on Monday, City University of New York students and their supporters held a raucous street protest, with signs saying “CUNY must be free” and “Abolish the board of trustees” as City University trustees approved a series of $300 annual tuition increases extending through 2015. At a protest in California, Cheryl Deutsch, a U.C.L.A. graduate student who heads the union representing student workers, confronted the university’s regents to extended applause. “You, as banker and financiers, real estate developers and members of the corporate elite, are not representative of the people of California, she said. “You are not representative of the students of U.C. You are the 1 percent.”

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