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Wednesday, June 19
The Indiana Daily Student


College ratings to decide financial aid

While touring colleges in the northeast, President Obama announced his plan to make going to school a better deal for Americans.

The president unveiled his mission to “combat rising college costs and make college affordable for American families,” according to a White House press release.

His plan includes the creation of a grading scale that will rate colleges in areas such as access, affordability and graduation rates,and ultimately derive the federal financial aid they receive from these grades.

Mark Land, associate vice president of University Communications at IU, said he believes this system will benefit the University.

“In its broad view, what the president is trying to accomplish are things that we agree with,” Land said. “Keeping graduation up, staying on track to graduate on time and getting financial aid to students are all important.”

A key part of this new grading system is tying federal aid to college performance instead of enrollment.Land said though there is room for improvement, he feels the University is headed in that direction.

“Indiana already bases some aid on performance,” he said. “IU’s four- to six-year graduation rates are the best of the Indiana public schools, and above the national average.”

The grading system also focuses on creating a greater amount of hybrid classes, including online courses and other technologies for student participation. Land said the University has already pursued these initiatives.

“Last year we announced IU Online, that’s goal is comprehensive online offerings,” he said. “We’re trying to be thoughtful with technology, increasing attention and resources for it.”

Obama announced he wishes for the U.S. Department of Education to have the system developed and colleges rated by 2015, with colleges awarded federal aid based on these ratings by 2018.

Land said though he is hopeful for the system, it could prove tricky to develop.

“The devil is in the details,” Land said. “The challenge is going to be coming up with a system that rates similar schools with similar missions.”

He said rating comparable schools is essential, or the system won’t work. Otherwise, aid could disproportionally allocate to schools with more resources.

“You can’t compare apples and oranges,” Land said.

He also stressed the importance of the government receiving aid in developing the system.

“I think the federal government seeking input from universities for the grading system is crucial,” Land said. “It’s what we do for a living.”

Although Land said the University is looking forward to the system’s development, forming an opinion now would be premature.

“It’s too early to see if we would like any particular plan,” he said. “We just like all the ideas.”

Land didn’t say what grade the University would receive.

“I’m not big on speculation,” Land said. “Until everyone sees how the system works, we can’t really tell.”

However, students were more willing to assess their school.

“I’d give it a B,” Beach said. “No college is perfect. Costs are still high, but they try to do what they can.”

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