Obama's Tougher-Stance Question On Higher Education "What Are People Getting For Their Money?"

Ann McClure's picture
Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Access to college has been the driving force in federal higher education policy for decades. But the Obama administration is pushing a fundamental agenda shift that aggressively brings a new question into the debate: What are people getting for their money?

Students with loans are graduating on average with more than $25,000 in debt. The federal government pours $140 billion annually into federal grants and loans. Unemployment remains high, yet there are projected shortages in many industries with some high-tech companies already complaining about a lack of highly trained workers.

Meanwhile, literacy among college students has declined in the last decade, according to a commission convened during the George W. Bush administration that said American higher education has become "increasingly risk-averse, at times self-satisfied, and unduly expensive." About 40 percent of college students at four-year schools aren't graduating, and in two-year programs, only about 40 percent of students graduate or transfer, according to the policy and analysis group College Measures.

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