Congressman John Garamendi

Representing the 3rd District of California
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At College Affordability Forum, Garamendi Urges College Rating System that Clearly Demonstrates Value to Students and Parents

December 16, 2013
Press Release

DAVIS, CA – Today at UC Davis, Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA), a former University of California Regent and California State University Trustee who represents the UC Davis campus community as a Member of Congress, spoke at a panel discussion on college affordability and President Obama’s initiative to create a uniform rating system that measures universities on the basis of access, completion, affordability, innovation, and transparency. He was joined by Congressman Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove, CA), U.S. Deputy Under Secretary of Education Jamienne Studley, and UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi, as part of a panel of more than a dozen educators and campus leaders.

“Students and parents are faced with the reality that the public is no longer investing in education as much as they once did,” said Garamendi, the proud father of three UC Davis graduates. “It’s a national problem. It’s a national tragedy. With students now facing more than a trillion dollars in college loan debt, the President has challenged us to measure the value of an education to make sure every student finds the right school for them.”

As a Regent and Trustee, Garamendi voted against every undergraduate tuition increase because he was gravely concerned about skyrocketing student loan debt pricing students out of an education.

“We need to understand that going to college is a major consumer decision. Students are going out and accumulating incredible debt, so let’s give them the information they need to help them make the correct decision for their needs,” Garamendi added.

The UC Davis panel was the fifth of five panels this year that took place across the country in an effort to solicit feedback from education leaders as the Administration crafts the college rating policy.

Deputy Under Secretary Studley noted that the purpose of the President’s initiative is to help make clear to students what schools are offering the best value for the needs of every student. She stressed that the system being designed is a rating system, not a ranking system, with broad categories and benchmarks taking precedence over a numbered list that offers an imprecise and unhelpful measure of campuses across the nation.  

The college rating system, which is scheduled to reach fruition in 2015, hopes to not just make sure that taxpayer dollars are invested wisely but also to encourage colleges to offer a better value. Incentives are being developed that reward campuses for helping lower income and disadvantaged students complete their college education. It will also help ensure that no student is required to pay more than 10% of their income in repaying loans to give students more opportunities and flexibility to establish their lives in early adulthood.

UC Davis and the greater University of California system are leaders in trying to keep higher education affordable in America. 53% of undergraduates are able to have their tuition paid for without taking out loans. 44% receive Pell Grants. Two-thirds graduate with less than $25,000 in student loan debt, well below the national average. The campus has recently expanded access to middle class scholarships for families too poor to afford an unsubsidized education but too wealthy to qualify for most need-based grants. They’ve also partnered with Central Valley businesses to help create a smoother transition from college to the workplace, especially in communities that need the talent pool, and the campus recently raised a billion dollars from private donors to create 1,500 new scholarships and significantly increase fellowship opportunities for post-graduates. The campus has also been a leader in helping California foster children graduate with little to no debt.