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President's visit highlights UB’s affordability

President Barack Obama unveiled his plan for affordable higher education at the University at Buffalo Thursday.  The President appeared at UB's Alumni Arena on the North Campus in Amherst. Obama used the University as a back drop for making college more affordable for students. WBFO's Eileen Buckley reports on his plan and the reaction

Credit WBFO News photo by Sylvia Bennett
President Obama appeared at UB's Alumni Arena in Amherst.

"Good news is -- from what I hear -- folks in Buffalo know something about hard work," said President Obama.

President Obama said higher education is the pathway to the middle class. He is proposing a new college rating system to check on affordability.

"We're going to rating colleges not just by which college is the most selected, not just by which college is the most expensive, not just by which college has the nicest facilities," said President Obama.  "What we want to do is rate them on who is offering the best cost so students and taxpayers get a bigger bang for their buck."

The President is also calling for using online technology to reduce college costs. 

UB is already doing better than the national average when it comes to reducing the price tag for an education.  It received  high marks on the President's College Scorecard for high graduation rates and low costs. 

UB president Satish tells WBFO News they are working hard to get undergraduate students out in four years.

"It's important to make sure the students understand what is available for them to finish in four years," said Tripathi.

Credit WBFO News photo by Syliva Bennett
UB president Satish Tripathi reacting to the President's speech.

UB's default rate on student loans is also the lowest in the country.

Western New York Congressman Brian Higgins said he believes the President's speech hit a home run. Higgins said these reforms are achievable.

WNY Congressman Brian Higgins in a live interview with WBFO following the President's speech on higher education.

Credit WBFO News photo by Sylvia Bennett
WNY Congressman Brian Higgins reacting to the President's speech.

"But it is going to require a change of mind set," said Higgins.  "Kids are typically financially literate."

Congressman Higgins says the biggest obstacle will be politics. 

Higgins along with the Governor and Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown all drove from the airport to the UB campus with the President -- but Mr. Obama was a little confused on some titles, referring to the Congressman as mayor of Buffalo.

"Your outstanding mayor, Brian Higgins is here," said President Obama.

But Higgins said is was okay, and Mayor Brown had no problem with the mix up.

Credit WBFO News photo by Sylvia Bennett
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown was all smiles as he reacted the title mix up when the President confused him for a congressman.

"I'm glad that the President has positive forecasts for me and Congressman Higgins.  I will certainly take the President promoting me to higher heights," said Mayor Brown.