BUFFALO, N.Y. — President Barack Obama declared a crisis in the soaring cost of higher education 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 at the University at Buffalo as he opened a two-day campaign-style bus tour of college campuses, would create a rating system starting 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.
"Higher education should not be a luxury. It is an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford," Obama said at a basketball arena packed with students at the University at Buffalo.
"Colleges that keep their tuition down and are providing high quality education are the ones that are going to see their taxpayer money going up," Obama said.