As part of his plan to boost economic mobility for the middle class, President Obama unveiled a proposal Thursday that would implement a college rating system based partly on affordability and job prospects after graduation.
The new rating system is intended to give parents and prospective students more information about the colleges they are considering.
The ratings, which will be developed through public hearings around the country, would rank schools based on factors such as affordability, student debt loan ratios and scholarships awarded.
The Obama administration will also pursue legislation to tie the rating system to federal financial aid. Students attending "high-performing" colleges would receive more federal aid, for instance.
The president, who is embarking on a two-day bus tour through New York and Pennsylvania, has said a college education is still a worthwhile investment.
But in a message posted to the White House website, he said rising college tuition rates have priced many Americans out of college, and students have had to shoulder more debt to earn college degrees.
Figures released by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York last week showed that the amount of student loan debt in the U.S. has risen to $994 billion. Student loan debt has tripled between 2004 and 2012.
"Just tinkering around the edges won't be enough," Obama wrote. "To create a better bargain for the middle class, we have to fundamentally rethink about how higher education is paid for in this country."
Economists say a college education is still a sure path into the middle class. Despite a weak economic recovery, the unemployment rate for those with a bachelors degree is 4.2% -- much lower than the overall 7.4% unemployment rate for the U.S.
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