Binghamton University an example of success, Obama advisor says

By Matt Porter

August 22, 2013 Updated Aug 23, 2013 at 1:27 AM EDT

Vestal, NY (WBNG Binghamton) When junior Sarah Park came to BU from Hannibal, N.Y., the school's affordability was key.

"I know it's a great school and I'm receiving such an awesome education," Park said. "But I also know I can afford it, so that was a big draw."

Binghamton native and BU graduate student Kimberly Colemen said it's easy to understand the president's choice.

"It's one of the best SUNY schools, definitely affordable. So I think his visit here and his talk about affordability for college and the middle class, I think it's a great place to choose," Coleman said. "I think it's a great institution, I think he'll really like it when he comes here, too."

Binghamton University ranks near the top in the most affordable schools in the country.

BU President Harvey Stenger said his school works hard to counsel students on their financial future before entering.

"Our students graduate with one of the lowest debt amounts, $21,000 to $22,000 debt total when they graduate on average."

Stenger said the low amounts of debt and high graduation rates are an example for other colleges and universities across the country.

"I think using us as a backdrop as an example that it can be done," he said.

The White House said BU, like all SUNY schools, is focused on providing the best education for the most students.

That's something Stenger also pointed out.

"Binghamton University gets it," he said. "And when I say Binghamton University, I mean everyone at Binghamton. The faculty, the staff, the alumni, the students, they get it. They understand the reason we're here is for the success of our students."

For students like Sarah Park, the president's visit shows she made the right choice.

"Of all the schools he could go to, he's going to Binghamton University, and that says a lot that he's coming to our school," she said. "It makes me very proud of it."

The president spoke Thursday in Buffalo about rating schools based on their academic success and affordability together in an effort to target federal funding to the highest performing schools that are delivering an affordable education.

The president is expected to open his plan laid out Thursday to questions from students, faculty and staff at a town hall meeting at BU Friday.

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