At a meeting with college leaders this week, President Barack Obama was looking for ideas. Amid record budget deficits, can Washington actually do anything to help make American colleges less expensive and more productive?  The Associated Press asks. Those related challenges are front and center for everyone from Occupy protesters to business leaders concerned about American competitiveness. And expert opinion on what Obama—or any president—can do about the problem varies, from very little to quite a lot. Where you stand depends on where you think the cause lies—with inexorable economic forces that make it virtually inevitable college costs will rise faster than inflation, or with inefficiencies and shortcomings in higher education itself that government policy could help correct…

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