Sunday, May 24, 2015

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

To cut college costs, trust the market, says Sallie Mae's Al Lord

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

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)
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.  

About this blog

PhillyDeals posts drafts, transcripts and updates of Joseph N. DiStefano's columns and stories about Philly-area business, which he's been writing since 1989.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn and taught writing at St. Joseph's. He has written thousands of columns and articles for the Inquirer, Bloomberg and other media, wrote the book Comcasted, and raised six children with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at JoeD@phillynews.com, distefano251@gmail.com, 215.854.5194 or 302.652.2004.

Reach Joseph N. at JoeD@phillynews.com or 215 854 5194.

Joseph N. DiStefano