Local experts applaud President’s college plan effort, but say it’s not practical

ALBANY, N.Y. — While the President outlined a plan during his visits to Syracuse and Buffalo to make college more affordable for the middle class by setting performance standards that would determine financial aid — not everyone in the Capital Region thinks the idea is very practical.

Local experts applaud the president's effort to begin a serious discussion about making college affordable, but they question how realistic his plan is.

President Barack Obama wants to tie financial aid to college performance, based on how successful students are after they graduate.

“There are a lot of factors that influence performance once someone has graduated,” says Dr. John Ebersole, President of Excelsior College.

Dr. Ebersole says establishing a reliable way of measuring student's success will be hard.

“It's going to require a good deal of effort and additional staff, in order to both collect and report that,” he says.

He says every state in the country raised its tuition rates over the past year because state lawmakers decreased higher education funding.

“I think it's gotten to the point where it's too expensive, so in general I like that he's talking about it,” said Dr. Dean Skarlis, an independent college advisor.

He advises students and families on making financially sound choices about college. He too thinks a generic measuring system likely won't work, and that regardless of how successful you are after college, the increased tuition costs coupled with student loans makes it tough for a graduate to have expendable income post degree.

“I don't care how much you make in the first five years after school, that's very difficult to pay that off without staying at home or getting a second or third job,” he said.

Dr. Skarlis says it's best for students to leverage themselves against colleges when picking a school to understand which schools will offer them the most affordable college experience.


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