With Obama’s Win, Colleges Anticipate 4 More Years Of Reform

American voters re-elected Barack Obama as president on Tuesday, extending the White House stay of an administration that has focused on expanding federal student aid as well as tightening regulations on colleges and universities.

Economic concerns took center stage over the course of the 2012 presidential race, as both campaigns sought to make the case for why their candidate was best equipped to lead a nation still recovering from an economic recession. Higher-education issues were often embedded in broader economic narratives. Both campaigns responded to anxiety over the cost of a college education, the unemployment rate for recent college graduates, and the burden of student-loan debt, which reached the $1-trillion milestone as the campaign was beginning this year.

Discussing higher-education policies on the campaign trail, Mr. Obama touted his administration's expansion of federal aid programs, which included increasing funds for Pell Grants and a more generous income-based repayment program for student loans. His campaign trumpeted as a success the end of the federal bank-based lending program, a change that proponents said converted wasteful taxpayer subsidies for banks into direct aid for students.

In offering policies to speed up the economic recovery, the president often highlighted the role of community colleges in career training, proposing a program that would provide federal money to community colleges and states with the goal of training about two million workers.

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