Local College President: Devil in details of Obama plan

Posted at: 08/22/2013 10:52 PM
Updated at: 08/22/2013 11:30 PM
By: Dan Levy

ALBANY - For anyone who earns their living as a financial planner or for someone who happens to be a college president, those are people who likely paid pretty close attention to President Obama's higher education affordability plan on Thursday.

The centerpiece of the president's plan would be a new ratings system that would allow students and parents to select colleges based on financial value.

"The devil is in the detail," said Dr. John Ebersole, president of the Albany-based Excelsior College.

Dr. Ebersole says the on-line Excelsior receives $1,640 per student, per year, already the best degree value anywhere, he insists, who says he welcomes the president's focus on college affordability.

"I don't mean to be unduly critical but I do want to be accurate in that there are factors that aren't being discussed because it's not politically expedient to do do," he says.

Ebersole also thinks it's important to point out that 20 million American students are paying higher tuition because every state legislature in the nation has taken money out of their public education budget in recent years.

"It's not that the price of education is going up," Ebersole states, "It costs us (the same) as it did three or four years ago, but the amount of revenue being provided by taxpayers is going down."

"(The president's) message resonates with everyone who has kids going into school," says Lisa Clifford, an area financial planner.

Clifford says she too is anxious to hear specifics of the president's plan. She also says she loves the idea of limiting federal student loan paybacks to 10% of the borrower's monthly income.

"It's a real challenge and I think to know that there is some focus being placed on this, people are worried about their kids coming out into the workforce and not being able to find a job and being saddled with debts they can't repay," Clifford says.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average cost for tuition has ballooned 73% in the last decade. American's currently owe roughly $1.2 trillion in student loan debt, which many experts believe is crippling the U.S. economy.