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Reed in step with President Obama’s goals on lowering net tuition

On January 26, President Obama gave a speech in Ann Arbor, Michigan, that emphasized the importance of a college degree and included concerns about the rising costs associated with obtaining one. President Obama pointed out the unemployment rate for those with some post-high school education is 4.1 percent—a rate less than half the national average. He also stated that next year’s college freshmen have seen the cost of college tuition more than double in their lifetimes.

“Even as a college degree has become more important than ever,” said President Obama, “the cost of that diploma has begun to skyrocket.”  He proposed three steps to reform student aid:

1)    Offering lower net tuition, or restraining tuition growth.
2)    Providing value to families, offering quality education, and offering training that allows graduates to repay their student loans.
3)    Serving low-income students by graduating more Pell-eligible students. 

Reed already actively pursues these goals. The college has worked diligently to keep its net tuition low. For more than a decade, the college has offered financial aid to over 50 percent of its students. In 2011, it allocated $19.6 million in aid to cover all demonstrated need for 56 percent of its students. The average financial aid package was $35,500 and the average student debt upon graduation was $16,900—the lowest of any college in Oregon.

Reed’s generous financial aid distribution also speaks to creating value for families. Reed continues to be among the top colleges of origin for those going on to earn PhDs, and other Reed graduates have created their own opportunities in almost every sector of the economy. One success story of note is Michael Richardson ‘07 and Urban Airship, which was touted by the White House in September ’11 for its growing success and innovative use of self-employment assistance funds.

Roughly 19 percent of Reed students receive Pell grants, which places Reed high among its peer institutions. Reed was founded 100 years ago with a commitment to intellectual rigor and meritocracy. The college has worked to redefine its egalitarian values in contrast to changing social norms, and through good economic times and bad. In a time of growing economic disparity, providing value in and access to education is paramount to keeping those ideals alive.