In op-ed, Marco Rubio lays out his plan to reform higher education

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President Obama joins Education Secretary Arne Duncan in Des Moines today for a town hall with high school students to discuss college access and affordability. Obama also plans to discuss changes to the college financial aid system to allow more flexible deadlines.

Using that as a pivot point for his own struggling candidacy, Marco Rubio has penned an op-ed in todays‘ Des Moines Register discussing his own plans to reform higher education.

Among the highlights:

1 — Rubio says he’ll reform the accreditation system “to welcome low-cost, innovative higher education providers, which are currently being blocked by the existing institutions that control accreditation.”  He says this will “transform” higher education by exposing it to market forces and competition.

2– Require a university to tell students how much they can expect to earn in the market with a degree before they take out their loans. He’ll also open financial-aid programs that allow working students to attend school on nights, weekends and online.

3– He’ll create alternatives to student loans, and adjust loan repayment plans to each graduate’s income. “This will dramatically reduce the financial risks of earning a degree,” he writes.

“While President Obama’s plan would spend $60 billion to provide free access to community college, my plan would ensure students have multiple affordable options so they don’t feel pressured to pick the one government will pay for, ” the Florida senator writes. “While President Obama’s plan would double down on outdated methods of earning degrees, my plan would allow students to combine what they already know with faster and more affordable pathways to a degree.”

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.