White House Introduces Race To The Top for Colleges

The Obama administration has introduced a Race To The Top program for College Affordability and Completion, allowing states and colleges to compete for $1 billion in federal grants.
by | January 27, 2012

The Obama administration has introduced a Race To The Top program for college affordability and completion, allowing states and colleges to compete for $1 billion in federal grants to accomplish those goals, the White House announced Friday morning.

Addressing the costs of college was one of the goals Obama mentioned in his State of the Union speech this week, calling on states to spend more on higher education. "Higher education can’t be a luxury -- it’s an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford," he said.

States and schools competing for federal funding would have to demonstrate plans to achieve several goals laid out by the White House, including: revamping their funding structure for higher education; aligning standards with K-12 programs so students can complete college on time; and maintaining adequate funding for public colleges and universities.

No immediate details were available on application deadlines for the grants in the fact sheet released by the administration on Friday. Calls and emails to the U.S. Department of Education were not immediately returned.

The White House also announced several other programs aimed at controlling college costs, expanding on ideas introduced by the president this week. The administration outlined a First In The World competition for individual colleges and non-profit organizations to develop strategies for increasing graduation rates on college campuses. Ideas suggested by the White House included course redesigns with better use of technology and early college remeditation programs.

Obama is also calling for a "College Scorecard" for all higher education institutions, which would provide information to the public about costs, graduation rates and the potential career earnings of graduates.

The administration will also take steps toward reforming federal student aid programs, according to the White House's announcement. First, Obama has proposed shifting federal student aid, up to $10 billion, away from colleges and universities with increasing tuition costs. Second, he called on Congress to avoid a doubling of the interest rate on federal student loans in July and to double the number of work-study programs in the next five years.

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