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Why Georgia Tech caught President Obama's eye

Georgia Tech, one of the first U.S. universities to offer an online master's degree in computer science, could be a model for making college cheaper.
BY Braingain Staff Writer |   11-03-2015
President Obama uses his talk to students in Georgia Tech, in Atlanta, to put the spotlight on college affordability.
President Barack Obama traveled on Tuesday afternoon to the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta to draw deliberate attention to student loan problems, college affordability and access to quality higher education.

The Atlanta university was the perfect place for Obama to make his remarks as Georgia Tech students have high job placement rates, and it's one of the first major U.S. universities to offer an online Master's degree in Computer Science. Georgia Tech's entirely online two-year Master's degree in Computer Science is less than $7,000. That's a steal — the typical cost for a traditional master's degree for students costs between $30,000 and $120,000, according to FinAid.org.

The White House no doubt believes Georgia Tech's Master's degree in Computer Science, delivered through a MOOC (massive open online course) platform, could be a model for making college cheaper.

The online degree program began in the fall semester of 2013 as a joint venture between Georgia Tech, Udacity, an education nonprofit, and AT&T.

"A stalwart in the technology field, Georgia Tech's innovative online degree has grown into a program highly touted by higher education proponents for offering an alternative to traditional campus learning at much lower costs," wrote Abby Jackson in the "Business Insider."

Student Aid Bill of Rights

Today it is 400% more expensive to go to college in the United States than it was just 30 years ago. President Obama told students at Georgia Tech on Tuesday that he wants to make the process of repaying student loans easier. Obama signed a “student aid bill of rights” and spelled out an assortment of policy tweaks to make it easier for struggling student borrowers to pay back their college loans.

“We're going to require that the businesses that service your loans provide clear information about how much you owe, what your options are for repaying it, and if you're falling behind, help you get back in good standing with reasonable fees on a reasonable timeline,” Obama told a crowd of nearly 10,000 students at Georgia Tech.

“We're going to take a hard look at whether we need new laws to strengthen protections for all borrowers, wherever you get your loans from,” Obama said.

The government estimates total U.S. student debt exceeds $1.1 trillion, with around 7 million Americans in default. Over 70 percent of U.S. students who graduate with a bachelor’s degree leave with debt, which averages $28,400.

Obama has been very sympathetic to the plight of struggling student borrowers, but he's run into obstacles that have limited his efforts to improve the situation. The president's $60 billion pitch this year for two years of free community college has gained little traction in the Republican-controlled Congress.

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