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Obama Vows to Work With Republicans on College Costs

November 6, 2014
 
 

President Obama, after his party's losses in Tuesday's Congressional elections, said Wednesday that he would seek to find agreement with Republicans on some higher education issues.

Obama said several times during a news conference at the White House that college affordability and student loans are issues on which he was ready to work with Republicans to find common ground during the last two years of his administration.

"We’ve got some common ideas to help more young people afford college and graduate without crippling debt, so that they have the freedom to fill the good jobs of tomorrow and buy their first homes and start a family," he said.

Voters in Tuesday's election, Obama said, sent a resounding message that they want policymakers to "get stuff done" in spite of partisan differences.

"Don't worry about party affiliation," was the message voters signaled to Washington, Obama said. "Do worry about our concerns."

"Do worry about the fact that I'm a young person who's qualified to go to college, but I'm really worried about taking $50,000 a year out in debt and I don't know how I'd pay that back," he continued.

Still, Obama suggested that his willingness to compromise came with some limits, saying broadly that "there's not going to be perfect overlap" between his and Republicans' ideas.

One area over which there will likely be little room for agreement is the role of for-profit colleges in higher education. The Obama administration last week released its final "gainful employment" rule, aimed at clamping down on abuses in the for-profit education industry.

James Kvaal, a top White House domestic policy adviser, on Wednesday brushed off concerns that the future of those regulations was threatened by a Republican-controlled Senate.

Asked about the possibility that a GOP lawmakers would repeal the rule, he said that there was a "very strong case" for the White House to make to Congress over why the rule is important.

"There are a lot of constituents who are affected directly by this rule, and I think there are a lot of constituents who understand the challenge of student loan debt broadly," he said during remarks at the Center for American Progress. "So I feel very good about the case that we can make to Congress that we're doing the right thing."

 

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