The Hill. August 20, 2013. By Justin Sink. President Obama said Tuesday that he will use his upcoming bus trip to offer a new plan "to make college more affordable, tackle rising costs, and improve value for students and their families" in an email sent to supporters.
The president warned that his proposals "won't all be popular with everyone," singling out those "who've made higher education their business."
"But it's past time that more of our colleges work better for the students they exist to serve," Obama said.
The president's two-day trip later this week will include stops in Buffalo and Syracuse, N.Y., with a town-hall discussion slated for his stop at State University of New York Binghamton. In Scranton, Pa., Obama will be joined by Vice President Biden.
On Monday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that during the bus tour, the president would unveil "new" ideas for reducing college costs, but pressed Tuesday, said he did not "want to give away the secret now."
"It'll be good," Earnest promised. "Stay tuned."
In his email, Obama indicated that the proposals would extend beyond recent efforts by the White House to improve access to education tax credits, financial aid and student loans.
"If we're going to keep the doors of higher education open to everyone who works for it, we need to do more," Obama said. "Much more. And that's exactly what I'm going to be talking about this week."
At the White House on Tuesday, Earnest said Obama wanted to "fundamentally rethink and reshape the higher education system," warning that " government assistance can't keep up with skyrocketing costs."
"Average tuition at a public four-year college has more than tripled — tripled — over the last three decades, while family incomes have barely increased," Earnest said. "The average student today graduates with more than $26,000 in student debt."
He also hinted that the White House saw education as an issue they could use to press congressional Republicans in upcoming battles over the federal budget and debt ceiling.
The college tour is a continuation of an economic push that Obama launched last month through which he has argued that his agenda helped the country battle back from the recession.
"When we're dealing with these larger budget and economic issues that are related to the fiscal year 2014 budget and the debt ceiling, the president's going to evaluate agreements that we can reach with Congress on those things by what impact they have on the middle class," Earnest said.
"So I think it's entirely appropriate that in the lead-up to those debates, that the president make clear to the American public and make the case to the American public about why the priorities that he's identified for the middle class are also going to be the priorities that he uses to evaluate policy decisions that are contemplated by Congress."