Department Announces New College Affordability and Value Outreach

Making college more affordable for American families has continued to be a key priority for the Obama Administration, and in August, President Obama proposed a comprehensive plan to address rising college costs and increase college affordability and value. Since his announcement, Department and Administration officials have traveled the country and met with a variety of higher education leaders to hear their thoughts about the three components of President Obama’s plan: paying colleges and students for performance, promoting innovations that cut costs and improve quality, and helping students manage their debt.


President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the University at Buffalo, the State University of New York, during the college affordability bus tour in Buffalo, N.Y., Aug. 22, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

As part of the proposal to pay college and students for performance, the Department is developing a college ratings system that will better inform families about college value and affordability and encourage institutions to improve, while ensuring that disadvantaged students are served well. Last week, we were excited to announce the first of four opportunities for the general public to interact with Department officials, as well as the broader education community, and share their ideas about how to develop the ratings and address the key themes of college access, affordability and outcomes.

Today, Secretary Duncan announced three additional open forums, in addition to other outreach efforts and events:

  • California State University, Dominguez Hills in Carson, Calif., on Nov. 6
  • George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., on Nov. 13
  • University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa, on Nov. 15
  • Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, La., on Nov. 21

Over the coming months, we plan to engage as many stakeholder groups and individuals as possible to help us develop college ratings that are useful to students and take into account the diversity of America’s colleges and universities. As part of our outreach announcement today, we are also unveiling a new College Affordability and Completion website that will host updated information, including details on timing and registration for the open forums, as well as new outreach events.

The public forums will build on the Department’s outreach activities already underway and will coincide with the Department’s upcoming Request for Information (RFI) to ask data experts and researchers to weigh in on methods for creating college ratings. Since the President’s announcement, officials have met in  Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, and Washington, D.C,  with groups including the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, the Historically Black Colleges and University Presidents’ Board of Advisors, the American Council on Education, student leadership associations, independent college groups in Massachusetts and California, presidents from Hispanic-Serving Institutions – and over the next few weeks will meet with community college and business leaders, parents, students, faculty, and more.

We want feedback from students and parents, state officials, college presidents from a variety of institutions, higher education faculty and administrators, businesses and industry leaders, researchers, data experts, higher education associations, innovators, philanthropies, policy leaders and others. If you can’t join us for an open forum, please submit your ideas by sending an e-mail to or by mail to the U.S. Department of Education headquarters in D.C. at the following address:

Attn: Josh Henderson
400 Maryland Ave SW, 7E313
Washington, DC 20202

 Sara Gast is director of strategic communications at the U.S. Department of Education


  1. On time graduation rates with in four years divided by major should be a part of it. I know universities where graduation rates vary widely by major. Some programs that require dual minors like education advertise 4 year programs but the reality is they take 4.5/5 years to complete.

  2. If the DOE was in charge of car loans with the lending and repay guidelines they have we would all drive over priced cars.

    Do you blame the car dealer or the bank that gives you $40,000 for a car that should cost $20,000 with no cosigner and no credit check?

    A sucker born every minute is what Wall Street profits from with DOE assistance.

    The best way to lower tuition cost and save the taxpayers billions is get Uncle Sam out of lending.

  3. How does one get an invite? I’m particularly interested in the Northern Iowa forum, and would like to know the venue and time, if open to the public. Thanks!

    • Thanks for your interest, Kari. These open forums are free and open to the public. The open forum at Northern Iowa University will be held from 10am-2pm. The exact location on campus is still being determined. Please check the Department’s college affordability and completion page,, for more information closer to the event. If you’re interested in providing testimony at the open forum, you can register by sending an e-mail to with the subject “Open Forum Registration” at least three days prior to the open forum. Walk-in registration on the day of the event is also accepted for any remaining time slots on a first-come, first-served basis at the Department’s on-site registration table.

    • Hi Kai,

      I believe you need to click on the “new College Affordability and Completion website” link in the article.

      Best Regards,

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