This week begins President Barack Obama’s much-publicized bus tour of higher education affordability through upstate New York.
The White House released a statement previewing the tour. This was part of the president’s message:
The facts are clear. Over the past three decades, the average tuition at a public four-year college has more than tripled. At the same time, many state governments are actually reducing their support for education, and many middle-class students are getting stuck with the tab. Today, the average student taking out loans to pay for education graduates with more than $26,000 in debt.
Just tinkering around the edges won’t be enough: To create a better bargain for the middle class, we have to fundamentally rethink about how higher education is paid for in this country. We’ve got to shake up the current system.
That’s why, starting Thursday, I will be embarking on a bus tour to offer my plan to make college more affordable, tackle rising costs, and improve value for students and their families. My plan includes real reforms that would bring lasting change. They won’t all be popular with everyone –including some who’ve made higher education their business — but it’s past time that more of our colleges work better for the students they exist to serve.
I’m really looking forward to seeing what these “shake up” ideas are.
The White House referred to the tour as “a personal mission” for Obama, as I’ve noted before the first president to have paid for college with extensive student loans. As he put it, “by the time we finished paying back the loans we took out to go to college and grad school, I was on my way to being a U.S. Senator.”