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A Failing Grade: Obama’s Record with College Students

Today, ESPN unveils President Obama’s NCAA Final Four picks. Tomorrow, they will reveal his full brackets.

These days, it seems like the president spends more time thinking about the Final Four than the difficulties facing a family of four: the soaring college tuition, the sluggish economy, skyrocketing gas prices, and massive national debt. Of course, no one begrudges the president’s filling out a bracket. But March Madness should not trump our many national crises.

In November, though, college voters could determine the winner of an even more important contest—the presidential election.

They would do well to remember these words from President Obama in 2008, just a few days before the election: “The real question is, ‘Will this country be better off four years from now?’”

Thanks to Obama’s policies, young voters are not better off than they were four years ago. And today’s college students won’t be better off four years from now, either.

The cost of college has reached an all-time high. According to College Board, average tuition for an in-state four year college has increased from $6,591 to $8,244 since Obama took office—a 25 percent increase.

Earlier this year and with much fanfare, President Obama announced plans to reduce that cost. Unfortunately, his plans will likely do more harm than good. Much like his college loan reforms, which will save the average student less than $10 a month, they are not serious proposals. They are political ploys to win back dispirited young voters.

The president’s traditional allies have called him out for this. Matt Miller, from the liberal Center for American Progress took him to task in the Washington Post last month:

“[T]he remedies [Obama] sketched in his State of the Union address and in a speech at the University of Michigan last week are textbook examples of proposals meant to signal the president’s ‘values’ (and win votes) while doing little to address the problem.”

This is typical Obama: point out a problem, offer a “solution” that does nothing, and hope voters don’t realize it until after the election.

Miller concludes, “But is the president’s plan anywhere close to seriously tackling this major national problem? No. So sorry, Mr. President. Good enough to win reelection just isn’t good enough.”

Worse, this “plan” may actually hurt colleges. The New York Times reports that some education experts “worry that by tying aid to costs,” Obama’s proposal would lead to “larger class sizes and greater use of adjuncts” and a “lower-quality college education” overall. Many public institutions which have already lost state aid could also lose federal aid, further hurting students.

Four years ago, college students propelled Barack Obama to victory. Today, they and their younger siblings are paying the price. In November, many of them will vote for the first time. With Obama’s failed record in mind, the Republican candidate is much more likely to be their pick.

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