Syracuse, Vassar Among Colleges Said to Join Cost Pledge

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Syracuse University are among schools promising to give incoming students more information on costs and financial aid, according to an Obama administration official.

Ten schools and university systems representing 5 percent of all enrolled U.S. college students will participate in the financial aid pledge, said the administration official, who described the agreement on condition of anonymity ahead of an announcement scheduled for today.

Under the initiative, participating institutions will provide students with data including the net costs after grants and scholarships of one year of school, estimated monthly payments for federal student loans after graduation, and statistics such as graduation, default and retention rates, the official said.

The schools’ pledge comes as President Barack Obama is pressing U.S. lawmakers to avert the doubling of student-loan interest rates to 6.8 percent from 3.4 percent. The president has said that if Congress doesn’t extend a freeze on the rates for government loans, as many as 7.4 million students and families will have to pay an additional $1,000 a year.

Vice President Joe Biden, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray, and White House Domestic Policy Director Cecilia Munoz are scheduled to meet today with participating college and university presidents to discuss ways to reduce tuition costs, the administration official said.

Understanding Costs

The universities’ commitments, which take effect in the 2013-14 school year, build on the CFPB and the Education Department’s “Financial Aid Shopping Sheet” aimed at making it easier for students and families to understand college costs.

Other participating schools include Vassar College; Arizona State University; Miami Dade College; North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University; the State University System of New York; the University of Massachusetts system; the University of Maryland system, and the University of Texas system, according to the administration official.

Obama is scheduled to visit the University of Nevada in Las Vegas on June 7 where he will urge lawmakers to pass legislation extending the student-loan interest rate freeze before it expires on July 1, the official said. Before the trip, Obama will issue a memorandum directing his administration to look for ways to make it easier for students to learn about loan repayment options.

Republicans, who control the House, passed a measure preventing the U.S. student-loan interest rate from doubling July 1. To cover the cost, the legislation would take $5.9 billion from a preventive health-care fund, which House Speaker John Boehner called “one of the slush funds” in the 2010 health care overhaul. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi responded by saying that the move would be “another assault on women’s health” as the fund provided care for women.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kate Andersen Brower in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at

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