Can Obama's 'fat fingers' push students, lenders, colleges to cheap math?

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President Barack Obama speaks on Friday, Aug. 23, 2013 at the Lackawanna College student union in downtown Scranton, Pennsylvania. (AP Photo / The Scranton Times-Tribune, Butch Comegys)

"The federal government should keep its fat fingers off curriculum choice," says Al Lord, former head of the Wilmington-based college lender Sallie Mae, in my story about Obama's proposal to direct taxpayer education loans and subsidies to schools whose graduates have high-paying jobs, in my column in Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer. Read the White House summary of Obama's plan here. Inquirer's Susan Snyder posts college reaction (mixed) here.

"President Obama complained last week about the rising cost of a college education and student debt," I wrote here. "Isn't that kind of like the chief pirate complaining merchant ships are getting scarce? The price of anything that's privately built but heavily U.S. taxpayer-funded - weapons, medicine, colleges - tends to rise faster than stuff that trades more or less competitively, like tomatoes or scrap metal."

It's going to be tough to measure what Obama wants to count, says St. Joseph's U business dean Joseph DiAngelo. Obama's got the right goal, but not all students are reasonable credit risks, says Joe Trainor, outgoing CFO at Phila College of theSciences.  

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