Warrensburg, Missouri (CNN) - Offering an abbreviated version of the economic address he delivered in Illinois earlier in the day, President Barack Obama addressed a crowd at the University of Central Missouri here Wednesday evening and pointed to the school’s business partnership program as an example of what needs to be done to drive down college costs.
“Here at Central Missouri, you are a laboratory for this kind of innovation,” the president said.
The president and his advisers have announced plans for a series of speeches throughout the fall focusing on issues he sees as crucial to the middle class. At UCM, Obama got a bit more specific about his plans for education.
“I’ve asked my team to shake the trees all across the country for some of the best ideas out there for keeping college costs down, so that as students prepare to go back to school I’m in a position to lay out what’s going to be an aggressive strategy to shake up the system,” Obama told a crowd gathered in the sweaty UCM gymnasium.
Prior to the speech, the president said he spoke with the president of the university, the local superintendent of schools and the head of the community college system about a partnership they’ve developed. Under the partnership the president outlined, local high school students in Lee’s Summit can earn credits toward an associate degree, allowing them to earn a bachelor’s degree at UCM in two years.
The program also has commitments from local health care, engineering, energy and infrastructure firms to hire students, making it easier for them to find jobs upon graduation.
“Everybody’s now working together to equip students with better skills, allow them to graduate faster with less debt and with the certainty of being able to get a job on the other end,” Obama said, praising the program. “That’s a recipe for success over the long term.”
These are the kinds of partnerships the president said he plans on highlighting throughout the fall. While he called on states to invest more in higher education despite budget crunches, he said schools also need to do their part.
“That is exactly the kind of innovation we need when it comes to college costs,” Obama said. “That’s what’s happening right here in Warrensburg. And I want the entire country to notice it. And I want other colleges to take look at what’s being done here.”