President Obama Thursday is to propose ways of making college more affordable by reshaping how Americans pay for higher education, the White House said.
"The president's comments will be focused on reducing the cost of a college education for families all across the country, because it's so important for middle-class families and those families trying to get to the middle class to have access to programs like that," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters Wednesday, ahead of a two-day bus tour Obama is to take through upstate New York and Pennsylvania.
Earnest did not offer details about the programs Obama would propose, although a White House statement said his proposals would include a plan to "improve value for students and their families."
"To create a better bargain for the middle class, we have to fundamentally rethink how higher education is paid for in this country," the White House said.
In his State of the Union address Feb. 13, Obama called on Congress to shift federal aid away from colleges that fail to keep costs down.
He also said his administration would provide an online "College Scorecard" of information so students and parents can "compare schools based on a simple criteria -- where you can get the most bang for your educational buck."
The proposals Obama intends to lay out on his bus tour will be spelled out in a series of speeches and town hall-style meetings, the White House said.
He is to start Thursday at the State University of New York at Buffalo with remarks about 11 a.m. and then speak at Henninger High School in Syracuse about 6 p.m., the White House said Wednesday evening.
On Friday, he will participate in a town hall-style event at SUNY Binghamton, followed by remarks with Vice President Joe Biden at Lackawanna College in Scranton, Pa. Biden was born in Scranton.
The average tuition at four-year colleges has tripled over the past three decades, and students who take out loans on average are left with debt topping $26,000, Obama said in an email to supporters previewing the bus tour.
The trip is the latest in several Obama events focused on what he calls his "middle class agenda."
Earlier trips to Illinois, Missouri, Florida, Tennessee and Arizona have focused on jobs, housing, infrastructure and manufacturing.