Concerned about President Obama's new plan that seeks to tie federal aid to college costs, Republican U.S. Rep. John Kline said "the devil is in the details."
Obama on Thursday unveiled plans for a system that would rate colleges based on their value for the money students spend on tuition -- then tie those ratings to disbursement of federal student aid.
Tuition costs at U.S. colleges have soared over the past three decades, forcing students and families to take on more debt to afford a college degree. A report released this summer by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education showed that 2010 graduates racked up $29,800 in debt, on average.
Obama's plan would create a ratings system that would allow students and parents to select schools based on the best value. The proposal also would urge Congress to tie federal student aid to college performance, creating an incentive for schools to keep costs in check.
"While I am pleased the president's new plan recognizes the importance of promoting innovation and competition in higher education, I remain concerned that imposing an arbitrary college ranking system could curtail the very innovation we hope to encourage -- and even lead to federal price controls," said Kline, chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee.
According to the White House, the average tuition at a four-year public college has increased by more than 250 percent over the past three decades. Over that same period, the average family income increased only 16 percent.
U.S. Rep. John Kline will fly back to D.C. today to witness President Obama sign legislation lowering interest rates on federal student loans.
Earlier this summer, Congress failed to reach a deal to prevent rates from doubling from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. The borrowing rates had been temporarily set at the lower level since 2007, with Congress extending it several times.
With a median age of 42 years old, the people Minnesota's northern Eighth Congressional District boasts the most seasoned population in the state.
By contrast, Minneapolis' Fifth Congressional District has the youngest population -- the median age is just 34 years old.
The figures are contained in a new look-up tool available from the U.S. Census Bureau, which allows quick display of all sorts data about each congressional district.
Use the tool (below) to see that the Fifth District, represented by U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, had a 9.5 percent unemployment rate when the Census Bureau collected its data while U.S. Rep. Tim Walz's southern Minnesota First Congressional District had a 6.1 percent unemployment rate.
Interested in education, housing, marital status or other data? That's all in the tool as well. You can pick which district to look at by clicking 'select a district' in the widget below.
Let us know what nuggets you find most interesting in the comments or on Twitter by replying to @Rachelsb.
Led by Minnesota congressman John Kline, House Republicans passed an education bill that would strip control of K-12 education from the Obama administration and roll back the landmark No Child Left Behind Act passed during the George W. Bush administration.
Kline’s bill, the Student Success Act, eliminates dozens of school improvement programs and grants states the power to develop their own standards, explicitly banning Education Secretary Arne Duncan from encouraging to states to adopt reforms backed by the Obama administration.
The House approved the legislation 221-207 with no Democratic support.
“The House of Representatives will not stand by and allow the Education Department to micromanage our classrooms and defend the failed status quo,” said Kline, chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee.
Since No Child Left Behind expired in 2007, Congress has failed to renew the legislation. And this week’s debate and vote marked the first time since the law was passed that an education bill has made it to the floor of Congress.
But its prospects beyond Friday’s vote remain dim.
A veto threat from President Obama looms and the Democratic-led Senate is hammering away at its own No Child Left Behind rewrite that differs from the House version. It also scraps some No Child Left Behind Act mandates, but would still give Duncan final say over state improvement plans.
House Democrats labeled the bill the “Letting Students Down Act,” arguing that it would fail to hold schools accountable, especially those that serve students with disabilities and those from low-income families. Democrats also blasted the bill for locking in $1.2 billion in sequestration budget cuts over the next six years.
The bill bonded the interests of business and labor, bringing together teachers’ unions and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, along with civil rights groups to denounce the legislation.
Chamber leaders threatened that they will consider votes for the bill as a vote against business interests. Bruce Josten, the chamber's executive vice president for government affairs, noted that House members' votes on the bill may be counted in the chamber's annual ratings scorecard.
Republican members often tout their ratings from the Chamber, the nation’s largest and most influential lobbying group.