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U-M Students React to Obama's College Affordability Plan

Obama says colleges must be held accountable for increased tuition.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that Mark Bernstein is a candidate for U of M regent.

ANN ARBOR — Following a whirlwind three-day tour across the country, President Obama told students at the University of Michigan on Friday that he will work with Congress and local colleges to keep higher education costs down.

Addressing a packed house of 4,000 students and supporters at U-M's Al Glick Fieldhouse, Obama unveiled a Race to the Top initiative for colleges across the United States.

"I don’t want to be in a country where we only are looking at success for a small group of people. We want a country where everybody has a chance," Obama said.

Obama's plan proposes tying federal student aid to universities' tuition rates and the value they provide graduates.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the plan would affect three programs that provide institutions with student aid — Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants, Perkins Loans and Work Study.

Obama said he will propose to double the work-study program's $900 million budget and to increase the capacity to make more Perkins Loans, which doesn't cost the government money but provides more financial aid. In addition, he said Congress should vote to increase the loan program to $8 billion a year from about $1 billion.

Under the current formula, schools with the highest tuition get the most money, because the programs help fill the gap between what students can afford and what they are charged.

Obama's plan would level the playing field, allowing colleges to compete equally for federal dollars.

"We're telling the states, if you can find new ways to bring down the cost of college and make it easier for more students to graduate, we'll help you do it," Obama said.

Jason Andrews of Brooklyn, NY., a student at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School, said he was impressed with Obama's speech.

"He definitely has a good plan to keep college costs down," Andrews said.

U-M freshman Matthew Weiss of Chicago said he doesn't always agree with the president but he was thankful for the opportunity to attend the speech.

"It was cool to see him," Weiss said. "I like how he wants to help out students. Out of control college expenses are a concern for all of us and I'm glad to hear the president's proposal addresses that."

Molly Block, a freshman at U-M, said she knows firsthand how hard it is to pay tuition. Block, an out-of-state student from Illinois, said she pays roughly $20,000 more than students in state.

According to the New York Times, Obama's plan has some university officials overly concerned, however Mark Bernstein of Farmington Hills, a candidate for U-M regent, said he stands behind the president.

"The president is right when he says college education is an economic imperative, not a luxury. We need to do everything possible to make our universities more affordable for working class families," Bernstein said. "Nothing less than the future of our state depends on it."

While most attendees honed in on the president's speech, others said they were simply grateful for the opportunity to be at the event.

"It's always exciting to see a sitting president," said Anne Savage of Dexter. "I love the energy in the room. I'm all about capturing the audience's reaction while taking photos. I don't care what anyone says, Obama is still a rock star."

Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad was picked by the White House to meet with the president following his address to the U-M students.

"I'm very excited," he said. "I feel the people select the president and we need to stick with the commander and chief. Hopefully we're all working for the same cause – which is keeping our country safe from the ground up."

hartland eagle January 29, 2012 at 01:19 PM
Aaron - "Obama spends more than all Presidents combined Washington through Reagan." This is patently FALSE. You can have your own opinion. Not your own facts. You give a link, did you even read it, or just not understand it? It doesn't support your statement. At all. I'm glad he forced through health care. We need it. And we can afford it. It's paid for. Unlike the Medicare drug benefit, which most of the people posting on this board are benefiting from - which was never paid for. How can the President be single handedly be sinking the country, I'd ask? We have a Congress. He can only sign bills that they send him. The GOP has used a historic number of filibusters - anything that got through to the President was a product of both parties.
Jordan Genso January 29, 2012 at 02:14 PM
Yes. I still serve on the executive committee. I have no desire to be anonymous here, and so I will answer any question asked of me. I try to be the commenter I wish others were. So I will ask you why you didn't respond to my comment directed towards you on Tuesday in the State of the Union article?
Jordan Genso January 29, 2012 at 02:31 PM
Joshua (clever passive-agressiveness with the 'Jord'), 1) Absolutely, all health insurance is required to provide coverage for things like the birth control pill. Now you can relabel that as an "abortion-inducing pill", but that doesn't change the validity of requiring insurance companies to cover it. So, since the ACA put stricter requirements on employers to provide insurance to employees, and the only insurance options available to those employers will include coverage for birth control, what you are saying is correct. It is completely justified in my opinion, and I think most others would agree. There are some religious groups that don't believe in medical care at all. Do you think that if one of those individuals owns a business and employees hundreds of employees, that they should be exempt from providing insurance that covers any health care to those employees? It's the same exact idea, that the employer can determine, based on their religious beliefs, what health insurance the employees will receive. If you think that one religious group should be allowed to dictate what is covered in health insurance, then you have to let all religious groups dictate what is covered in health insurance. 2) I've read that that is incorrect, but I already said I'll concede it for the purposes of this discussion. Pro-life individuals are going to be offended by any continuation of freedom of choice, and so in that regard, the pro-choice position will be viewed as disrepectful.
Jordan Genso January 29, 2012 at 02:41 PM
3) Do you think that the federal government should be able to restrict businesses from employment discrimination? I do. Now religious groups have been given an exemption in the past that let's them discriminate based on religion, but I personally don't see what is wrong with the government telling the religious group that they can't discriminate based on handicapped-status. Do you? Sure, the Supreme Court ruled that a religious organization can fire someone for being handicapped, even though a regular business could not, but I don't think disagreeing with that ruling makes one disrepectful towards religion. 4) I'm sure that's not an exaggeration at all. Fred Phelps = Harry Knox. An intellectually honest person would see nothing wrong with that comparison. [/sarcasm] 5 & 6) Do you believe that we have to be tolerant of racial discrimination? The bigot has every right to hold onto their bigotry, but do we have to tolerate it and allow them to act upon it, even when it harms others by keeping them from equal treatment under the law? Would you support the right of a clerk to refuse to give marriage licenses to mixed-race couples? I mean, don't you feel that you have to tolerate their opinion that people of different races shouldn't marry? Or do you recognize that the clerk's action results in the couple's rights have been infringed upon?
Jordan Genso January 29, 2012 at 03:08 PM
"Should Catholic Charities be allowed to not adopt children to gay couples? Obama would say no. Should Knights of Columbus be allowed to refuse to host a gay wedding reception? Obama would say no." And I would agree with President Obama. Equal protection under the law. It's an important concept. Do you think Catholic charities should be able to refuse to adopt children to Baptist individuals? President Obama would say 'no', and I would agree. Should the Knights of Columbus be allowed to refuse to host a wedding for two individuals who had previously had other marriages but got divorced? President Obama would say 'no', and I would agree. Do you? The important difference between us is that I recognize that sexuality is not a choice, and so it should be protected the same way as other non-choices. But let me ask you this- is your religious beliefs a choice? If you were a strong Catholic, would you be able to choose to become a Muslim, and actually have a faith just as strong in Islam that you had in Christianity? Or would the conversion not be genuine, where you could do everything that makes it appear as though you are Muslim, but deep down you never lost faith in Catholicism? ------------------- The President does not discriminate against views based on religion, but he does restrict actions based on religion. Religion is not a carte blanche to do actions that infringe upon the 14th Amendment.
hartland eagle January 29, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Joshua Raymond - "Should Catholic Charities be allowed to not adopt children to gay couples? Obama would say no" So would I. No, Joshua, the church shouldn't be able to discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation. What a blatantly un-American, un-Christian sentiment you express. Discriminate against people. Really. You'd really rather children be parentless than be adopted by a gay couple. That makes you anti-child too. Congratulations. It's a trifecta!!!
Bryce January 29, 2012 at 08:11 PM
But wait a second Mr. Eagle, people are quick to jump on a government institution for erecting a nativity scene on its property in the name of keeping government and religion separate. That being the case, why then should the government be able to force a religious institution to act in a manner that is contrary to its beliefs? Personally, I support the right of a gay couple to adopt. I do not support government intrusion into a religious institution. As James Madison said, "Because if Religion be exempt from the authority of the Society at large, still less can it be subject to that of the Legislative Body."
hartland eagle January 29, 2012 at 09:20 PM
Sorry, I don't understand what one has to do with another. Yes, the government should keep groups from discriminating against people. Any group. Including churches.
Jordan Genso January 29, 2012 at 10:08 PM
Joshua, 1) Health care is as much about prevention as it is about healing, and birth control is an important tool for preventing unplanned pregnancies (which are a health concern). That is why birth control is different than elective cosmetic surgery. In regards to the Amish and other groups, my understanding is that they are exempt from the individual mandate, but I don't think they would be exempt from employer requirements if they own a business with many employees. I could be wrong though. 2) While I think you are incorrect about the "taxpayer funded abortions", I can understand how that would upset people if you are correct, just as I understand anti-war individuals getting upset at how much of their tax dollars go towards war. 3, 5, 6 & 7) It all boils down to whether or not religious groups should be able to use their religious beliefs to justify doing things to others that someone else could not legally do. I don't see the 1st Amendment as identifying such policies as constitutional. The 1st Amendment protects their rights, but it doesn't let them infringe upon the rights of others. Your argument would equally apply to a situation where a religious group wants to make human sacrifices, with you saying that the government preventing that is a violation of their 1st Amendment rights.
Milan Moravec January 29, 2012 at 10:25 PM
UC Berkeley is not increasing enrollment. Birgeneau accepts $50,600 foreign students and displaces qualified instate Californians (When depreciation of assets funded by Californians are in foreign and out of state tuition calculations, out of state and foreign tuition is more than $100,000 + and does NOT subsidize instate tuition). Like Coaches, Chancellors Who Do Not Measure Up Must Go: remove Birgeneau. More recently, Chancellor Birgeneau’s campus police deployed violent baton jabs on students protesting Birgeneau’s tuition increases. The sky will not fall when Birgeneau and his $450,000 salary are ousted. Opinions make a difference; email UC Board of Regents marsha.kelman@ucop.edu
Jordan Genso January 29, 2012 at 11:02 PM
(to respond to some points of yours that I've missed) "I've given plenty of examples where Obama has placed federal law above religious conscience. Can you provide examples where Obama put precedent on religious conscience?" President Obama supports the rights of religious individuals to be religious, and to act on that religiousity up until it comes into conflict with the 14th Amendment rights of others. He is in favor of placing federal law above religious conscience the same way that previous presidents have done so by saying that religious beliefs do not give business owners permission to racially discriminate. The President is doing no more than that, but applying it to sexual orientation as well. The President sides with religious individuals whenever a (unconstitutional) law prevents them from expressing their religion in a way that does not take away the rights of others (like school prayer). "Do you believe a private or public adoption agency should be allowed to refuse an adoption to a KKK leader or a fundamentalist (polygamous) Mormon?" Good question. KKK leader- yes, since being a racist is not and should not be a protected class, and so it should be allowed to be taken into account. Polygamous Mormon- personally, I don't think so. If the Mormons meet all other adoption criteria, I don't think their polygamous beliefs should be discriminated against. The government does not recognize polygamous marriages, but that shouldn't matter to the adoption agency.
Jordan Genso January 29, 2012 at 11:14 PM
"For some reason, I thought your bio said you had Libertarian leanings. I'm not seeing them, but perhaps we are interpreting things differently." I consider myself to be a civil libertarian, yes. I strongly support the ACLU, and as a general rule agree with their understanding of the Constitution and personal rights. I support individual freedom when those freedoms do not take away the constitutional rights of others. But I do not support an individual's freedom to infringe on someone else's rights. Take the business owner who wants to put up a "no blacks" sign. The government has to decide whether to protect that business owner's right to put up the sign, or protect everyone elses right to equal protection under the law. If a black person walks into the business, and the business owner calls the police, what do you think the police should do? Should the police protect the business owner's rights and force the black person to leave? Or should the police let the black person stay? If the latter, and the owner then tries to physically force the black person out, should the police stop that owner or let him do it? If the latter, and the black person fights back, who should the police arrest? How does that situation get resolved under your philosophy? The government has to get involved at some point, so which side should they give preference to?
John Hill January 30, 2012 at 01:48 AM
Stop Budget proposal 2012 from further burdening students and their families. http://www.change.org/petitions/congress-and-election-year-2012-candidates-please-stop-2012-budget-proposal-from-impacting-students-and-their-families
Bryce January 30, 2012 at 02:36 AM
That begs the question then Mr. Eagle, do you then feel the government should be able to force a religious institution to alter its core beliefs and principles if the government doesn't deem those beliefs and priciples to be correct?
hartland eagle January 30, 2012 at 11:43 AM
Believe whatever you want. Take actions that discriminate against and put people at a disadvantage, and yes, the government should step in. What if your religion took this kind of stance against blacks? Would that make it ok?
dk January 30, 2012 at 11:44 AM
"Both Parties have moved further away from the center. The left is more liberal..." Both parties are so far right, they make Goldwater look like a liberal. As a direct response to this rightward march into insanity and facism, the "left" has gotten more main stream and more vocal. Conservatives are amazing hypocrites. When someone tries to regulate guns, it is treason. When they regulate birth control and abortion and discriminate against women and "blasphemous" gays, they're just doing god's work. When taxpayer dollars go to private corporations, they call it capitalism and the free market. When taxpayers get their own money back, they call it socialism and welfare. The reason this President has the highest deficit is because somebody had to clean up and pay for the mess Bush and his neocons made. Conservatives have had control of this country for 40 years and all they've done is drive us it into debt and destroy our economy, middle class, and environment. Where's the trickle down and jobs they promised? The jobs are in India and China, and the money is in their offshore bank accounts. If I ever have swamp land to sell, I know exactly who to market it to. Low IQ & Conservative Beliefs Linked to Prejudice http://news.yahoo.com/low-iq-conservative-beliefs-linked-prejudice-180403506.html
Jordan Genso January 30, 2012 at 04:44 PM
Joshua, I agree this has been a worthwhile discussion, and I thank you for staying on point much better than others I've conversed with on this site. "Since you feel this should be part of healthcare, please cite me another example of something covered that disrupts normal processes to prevent a normal and healthy condition." Now I am not an OB/GYN (stating the obvious), but I do believe that at least for some women, pregnancy is not a "healthy condition". And I believe that for all women, pregnancy could theoretically become an "unhealthy condition". And it's that fact that justifies the 'prevention' aspect of birth control. To be honest, I am not able to come up with a perfect analogy to another provision in the health care reform, so your point is made there. The best I could come up with were dietary things like "eating sugar is, in general, healthy and normal, but for some, it can lead to diabetes, so should medication for those whose are at risk for developing diabetes be covered?" I would say that is somewhat similar to "getting pregnant is, in general, healthy and normal, but for some, it can lead to health concerns, so should birth control for those who want to avoid those health concerns be covered?", but it's clearly not a flawless analogy. I think the disagreement lies in whether or not pregnancy should be viewed only as healthy & normal, or can it be viewed as potentially dangerous and worth preventing if desired.
Jordan Genso January 30, 2012 at 04:59 PM
Joshua, I in no way think you are immoral for your position regarding property rights. When Rand Paul came under criticism for stating a very similar position as you have, I tried to defend him from those accusing him of being racist. I disagreed with his position for the reasons I've disagreed with yours, but it's not an immoral position. I just don't know how to handle the policing concerns of such a position without it violating the 14th Amendment. You've done well painting me into a corner regarding adoption, and what should be open as valid discrimination and what discrimination should prohibited. I do think protected classes should remain protected, but outside them, the burden should be on the adoption agency to demonstrate/articulate a clear harm to the child if that child were to be adopted by the person they are discriminating against. That will leave it open to some gray area. And I don't think the mother gets to supercede those rules and require discrimination. "Could you provide some concrete examples where Obama has placed the rights of religious people over federal law?" The first example I can think of was his defense of the Muslim community center in New York that conservatives called the 'trade center mosque' or something. He supported their religious freedom, and would not let the frederal government violate their rights. He will defend expression, even if it offends, but he won't defend action that infringes on others' rights.
NotLazy January 30, 2012 at 05:25 PM
Hartland Eagle, to accuse one of being a liar is a feeble attempt at imparting your wisdom on others. Shame on you. My health care a a public employee went from $75 dollars this month to $450.00 next month due to the legislation that Snyder passed late last year. This legislation was a republican led attack on public employees.
ConcernedParent January 30, 2012 at 05:37 PM
" I believe private businesses should have every right to discriminate. You and I have that right." And this strategy might well work for you, if you happen to be in the majority. For white, middle class, heterosexual, Christian, business-owners this might be just dandy. But if you're black and all of the shops in town have a 'no Blacks' sign.. tough for you, move somewhere else. Or no Jews, or gays or... The sad and inevitable truth is that the Government has to regulate your prejudices. Because people (societies), left to their own devices, often make very bad decisions that place others' rights below their own.
Jerry Grady January 30, 2012 at 06:23 PM
Bryce Let me help you out: Mr. Eagle Is it okay for the Religious organizations to Discriminate? Yes or No Is it okay for Governments to Discriminate against the Religious Orders? Yes or No Easy enough for a yes or no answer. No need for a PHD lesson. This is all Bryce was point out. Your opinion is it is okay for Government to Tell Religious orders not to Discriminate, but you never answered why is it then they can tell a Religious Order then can not but up a nativity scene on its property. That in itself is Discrimination and you can talk around it all you want, but it does have to do with each other.
Herb Helzer January 31, 2012 at 03:53 PM
Just as an aside, Nancy: It's "The New York Times" and "The Wall Street Journal." In both cases, "The" is part of their name and must be included. What can I say? Sometimes my journalism and editing background gets the better of me.
Herb Helzer January 31, 2012 at 04:30 PM
That is a very broad brush you're using, Aaron. Your advice to students and parents is worthy of consideration, and should be part of the discussion at the family level. But when you turn advice into demands -- "Go to a community college" and "quit looking for the big name schools" -- you lose credibility. Of course, when you refer to "kids" in this context you are really talking about "adults" under the law. And guess what? The large majority of those "kids" you disparage ARE paying back their student loans. It takes time, and many take advantage of options provided by law to defer and forbear until they establish their careers, but there is no "rarely pay it back" happening. That's exactly like saying "most homes are being foreclosed on" or "everyone is looking for work." Those are all inherently false statements, attempting to demagogue the issue...which again goes straight to your credibility. THIS President didn't spend more. He was presented an itemized bill for the ongoing cost of two wars, unfunded income tax rate cuts from 2001 and 2003, a deep recession and the financial crisis of 2008 -- all run up by the previous Administration. NEW spending by this Administration to date is a fraction of that. Your failure to grasp the difference is the same problem we faced last year, when the Tea Party and Republicans in Congress wanted the United States to default on the debt incurred, by stopping the debt ceiling increase. It was madness then, and still is.
Herb Helzer January 31, 2012 at 04:39 PM
One more thing: Next time you refer to "my tax money," consider the tax credits and deductions you claim. Do you deduct your mortgage interest? That represents MY TAX MONEY going to support YOUR housing choice. The mortgage interest tax writeoff is a HUGE transfer of money from everyone to homeowners with mortgages. But no one seriously considers ending it or even modifying it, despite the clear evidence that it helped cause the mortgage collapse (the tax break enabled and even encouraged people to buy bigger homes at higher interest rates), and indirectly exacerbated a host of problems, from suburban sprawl to the decline of older cities to increased gasoline use to the need for more infrastructure.
Herb Helzer January 31, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Funny how that worked out for you, isn't it? Everyone complained about "gridlock" during the Granholm years, as her administration was stymied at every turn by Republicans in the Legislature (and "Democrats" like former Speaker Andy Dillon, now RIck Snyder's Treasurer). Twice they couldn't pass a budget in time, and the MBT and surcharge were horrible business tax compromises intended to appease Republicans and gain bipartisan support (but wound up pleasing no one). After 2011, I imagine you miss gridlock.
Herb Helzer January 31, 2012 at 04:52 PM
"[W]e are all told from the moment we open our eyes, that everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. Well, that’s horsepuckey, of course. We are not entitled to our opinions; we are entitled to our INFORMED opinions." -- Harlan Ellison (Emphasis mine.)
Herb Helzer January 31, 2012 at 04:56 PM
Wow. Just...wow.
Herb Helzer January 31, 2012 at 05:02 PM
You...didn't pay much attention when studying history, did you? What would it actually take to reach you? What information -- factual, sourced, supported by evidence -- would you need to pierce that shell of ignorance you've accreted around yourself? Do you even want to consider the POSSIBILITY that something might show your beliefs to be wrong, or are you comfortable in your current state?
Herb Helzer January 31, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Good to know, Milan. Always interesting to glimpse things happening elsewhere. The big difference between in-state and out-of-state (and out-of-country) tuitions is also present in Michigan, and anecdotally seems to have some impact on the ability of some qualified (as opposed to HIGHLY-qualified) Michiganders to attend a state university.
mike smith May 16, 2012 at 02:57 AM
amen

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