Schapiro applauds Obama’s plan for college affordability

Cat Zakrzewski, Assistant Summer Editor

University President Morton Schapiro commended the Obama administration’s push last week for performance-based funding in higher education.

On Thursday in New York, President Barack Obama announced his plan for a rating system that would dole out federal aid to schools that keep tuition low and most prepare its graduates for the workplace, among other factors. Obama’s proposal has been meet with mixed reviews from university leaders and college experts.

“We applaud the president’s desire to direct taxpayer dollars ‘toward high-performing colleges that provide the best value,'” Schapiro said in a statement with Barry Glassner, president of Lewis & Clark College. “And we trust that as he and his advisers give additional thought to how to measure performance and value, they will emphasize many of the attributes that led them to choose the colleges they attended themselves and want their children to attend.”

The statement was released the same day Schapiro and Glassner published an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times criticizing high school students who choose colleges solely on the basis of rankings and where they feel comfortable socially. The university leaders wrote students should choose schools that best fit their needs and passions, which Obama’s proposal could highlight.

“We suspect that list includes the quality and dedication of the faculty, the availability and caliber of majors and minors, academic and other support services the institution provides, study-abroad opportunities, and a general focus on the intellectual and social development of students both inside and outside the classroom,” Glassner and Schapiro said in the statement.

Schapiro also commented on Obama’s plan Thursday, expressing some reservations about the new system due to the complexity of the data on which it relies.

“While I admire and support the president’s focus on college affordability, it is critical to distinguish between the ‘sticker price’ institutions list and what students actually pay after accounting for financial aid,” he wrote in an email to the Los Angeles Times. “In calculating ‘value,’ you have to begin with what students from different income brackets actually pay.”

— Cat Zakrzewski