Editorial: Ways To Cut The Cost Of College

"U.S. President Barack Obama announced a new push last month to curb the rising cost of college. Thankfully, state governments, which helped cause the problem, are experimenting with ways to fix it. The federal government can help," Bloomberg says in an editorial. "Easing the financial burden on students won’t be easy, but there’s plenty of scope for economies if students and universities are willing to be flexible -- and if states and the federal government give them better reasons to be. ... The federal government also has a part to play. The Obama administration has asked Congress for $1 billion to fund a Race to the Top program for higher education. The idea, based on a program for school reform that was part of the 2009 stimulus package, is to make states compete for more money by improving their higher education programs -- including making college more affordable. The Senate appropriations bill included only $250 million for the effort; the House isn’t willing to fund even that. It’s a false economy. The program is an opportunity to save money. Other measures also deserve more support than they’re getting. Students could shop among colleges more intelligently if they could compare prices more easily. Last year, Democratic Senator Al Franken of Minnesota introduced a bill to make universities present their financial-aid offers in a simple, standard format. Obvious? Apparently not. The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators said schools should be able to cast their offers in the way that best suits them. The measure was defeated. Obama is right to make the cost of college a priority. He ought to support the experiments already under way in the states, and keep urging Congress to lend a hand."

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