Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

October 25, 2016   |   Ithaca, NY


Editorial: Dollars and sense

President Obama proposes a new academic rating system that could prove to be detrimental toward private institutions like Ithaca College

President Barack Obama stopped at Binghamton University’s campus on Friday, as part of a two-day tour, to speak about college affordability. He praised the State University of New York campus for keeping costs down and giving students a world-class education without the financial burden and debt that keeps many from going to college.

In his plan to make higher education more affordable, the president proposed a rating system that measures the academic value of colleges and universities. Each school’s rating will be based on the average amount of student debt, default rates and graduation rate.

It’s unfortunate that Obama only chose to discuss college affordability at what he praised as a financially accessible university. The president spoke just an hour away from Ithaca College, which CollegeCalc.org ranked the No. 23 most expensive school in New York State. According to U.S. Department of Education, the college is the No. 48 most-expensive private, four-year, not-for-profit school in the nation for total cost of attendance. In addition to visiting Binghamton University, Obama also stopped at University of Buffalo. Neither state university ranks among the 40 most-expensive schools in New York on this list.

Most Ithaca College graduates walk away with an average of $23,849 in federal loan debt. Meanwhile, college tuition rises steeply. Therefore, the college will not rank well under this new system, if implemented. Rather, the college’s private-school status will be stigmatized because of the expense, deterring students applying regardless of its academic rigor.

If Obama is serious about making all colleges affordable, he needs to gather feedback and engage in dialogue with students who attend more expensive institutions like Ithaca. By making more concrete recommendations for these schools, the president can design a more effective policy that cuts costs without compromising academics.