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Obama faces blowback from college admins over SOTU statements

In his State of the Union address and subsequent speeches to college students at the University of Michigan, President Obama made clear his support for lower tuition rates. He called on universities to cut tuition, or face reduced federal funding.

University presidents and administrators aren’t taking kindly to this threat:

President Barack Obama’s new plan to force colleges and universities to contain tuition or face losing federal dollars is raising alarm among education leaders who worry about the threat of government overreach. Particularly sharp words came from the presidents of public universities; they’re already frustrated by increasing state budget cuts.

The reality, said Illinois State’s Al Bowman, is that simple changes cannot easily overcome deficits at many public schools. He said he was happy to hear Obama, in a speech Friday at the University of Michigan, urge state-level support of public universities. But, Bowman said, given the decreases in state aid, tying federal support to tuition prices is a product of fuzzy math.

Of course, if decreasing government aid has made tuition increases unavoidable, why don’t administrators’ salaries seem to suffer? The latest from the University of Colorado:

The University of Colorado used money generated from last year’s 9.3 percent tuition hike to reward many of its top administrators with raises, increasing Chancellor Phil DiStefano’s salary by $49,000 to $389,000 and doling out tens of thousands of dollars in salary increases to other high-paid employees.

Now, with university administrators proposing an additional 15.7 percent tuition increase and a second round of raises, some CU regents say they were misled about what was presented to the board and to the public last year as a merit-based salary pool to reward faculty and staff with 3 percent raises.

Those regents say they’re dismayed that students and their families were taxed — during a lingering recession — to fund generous pay increases for administrators already earning six-figure salaries.

Read more TCF news about tuition here.

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