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Would ranking colleges by value help keep costs down?

by AirTalk®

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President Barack Obama speaks to students at the University of Michigan January 27, 2012 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Obama spoke about college affordability to the crowd of more than 3000 students, saying that he is pressuring Congress for new initiatives. Getty Images

President Obama is unveiling a new set of proposals that aim to bring down tuition at the nation’s top universities. The administration’s plan would create a ratings system for colleges that will evaluate their performance along a bang-for-your-buck type of model, comparing things graduation rates, numbers of advanced degrees and graduate earnings with a college’s affordability. Obama’s plan would create the ratings system before the 2015 school year, and would then allow parents to pick schools based on value. The hope is that it will push Congress to connect federal financial aid to college performance to give schools an incentive to keep their costs low.

This year, the average cost in-state tuition at a four-year state school is $8,655 up 4.8 percent from last year, according to a recent survey by the College Board. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimates that Americans now owe about $1.2 trillion in student loan debt.

Would a value ranking system help keep college costs down? What would be the criteria for the ranking system? Would schools with large endowments get more federal aid?

Beth Akers, fellow in the Brown Center for Education Policy at the Brookings Institution

Neal McCluskey, Associate Director of Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom 

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