• April 23, 2014

Hearings Will Gather Public Feedback on Obama's Plan to Rate Colleges

The U.S. Education Department will hold a series of public forums next month to solicit feedback on President Obama's plan to rate colleges and award some federal student aid based on those ratings.

In a notice set for publication in the Federal Register on Wednesday, the department announced that it planned to hold four forums, starting with one on November 6 at California State University-Dominguez Hills, in the Los Angeles area. The remaining hearings will take place at George Mason University, in Arlington, Va., on November 13; at the University of Northern Iowa, in Cedar Falls, Iowa, on November 15; and at Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge, on November 21.

Individuals who want to speak at one of the forums must send an email at least three days before the event to collegefeedback@ed.gov, with the subject line "Open Forum Registration." Each participant will be limited to five minutes for comments. Individuals can also submit comments to the department through email, at collegefeedback@ed.gov.

In addition to the forums, the department will hold town halls and round tables during the months of October, November, and December, according to the notice.

Mr. Obama's proposed college-ratings system seeks to assess colleges on measures such as affordability and access, eventually tying student aid to colleges' performance. Some experts say such a ratings system could help prospective students make more-informed college choices, but others worry that it might carry "perverse incentives" that would encourage colleges to dumb down their standards or turn away at-risk students.

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