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Obama’s outlined college goals need more definition

The cost of college has skyrocketed over the past few years. According to President Barack Obama during a speech at the University of Buffalo last Thursday, tuition rates at four-year public colleges have risen by more than 250 percent over a span of 30 years, and the average student graduates with over $26,000 of debt.

In response to the increased cost of education, Obama proposed a plan during his speech for making college more affordable. His three goals include creating a new rating system for colleges based on opportunity; getting colleges to provide new economical methods for education; and making debt more manageable.

While Obama’s goals are admirable, his changes needed more concrete explanations during his speech to show that the proposed sweeping reforms can be implemented with ease.

Throughout his speech, Obama provided clear goals for providing more affordable education and even pointed to innovative ideas that universities are enacting, including Carnegie Mellon's initiative to help students master material online at lower costs.

With tuition costs of $46,670 for incoming students, Carnegie Mellon’s student body that pays a lot for its education. Suggestions for lowering this cost for incoming students would no doubt be well received.

A more in-depth explanation of each goal would have made Obama's plans seem more attainable. His plan for creating a new rating system was also explained broadly, with a tentative launch date of 2015 for the system. However, there was little word on the progress for a new rating system beyond the appointment of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to lead the initiative. Obama spoke of incentives for schools to create new ways of learning at a more affordable rate, but did not provide specifics on how these incentives would be enforced or implemented.

Additionally, Obama spoke about advertising an already-existing method for paying loans called the Pay As You Earn plan to encourage students to take advantage of it, but offered little more in terms of new ways to help students pay loans.

The goals presented in Obama’s speech will most likely positively impact students looking toward higher education, but only if these goals translate into action.

Without these specifically detailed actions, Obama’s speech seems premature; it would have been more effective if he had discussed current government action toward encouraging schools to be innovative when making education more affordable.