Of course, not all college degrees are equally valued in the marketplace. Fortunately for the engineering community, the market sets a very high value on our degrees and associated skills.
A study conducted by Georgetown University researchers using 2009 data showed that electrical engineers and computer scientists with Bachelor's degrees can expect to earn $3M over their lifetime ($3.4M and $3.5M with a Master's degree, respectively.) As just one comparison, PR specialists will typically earn $2.5M over their careers. The fact is that the choice of college major can be just as financially significant as the choice of university.
In responding to the president, can higher education be made cheaper? Of course it can, but at what cost? Today, institutions are experimenting with online education that promises cost savings due to scaling and minimal infrastructure, i.e. campuses. These approaches haven't been fully tested by the market yet, so we won't know whether these "e-educations" will provide similar long-term value for another decade or so.
In the State of the Union, the President said something we can all embrace: "Higher education can't be a luxury. It is an imperative that every family in America should be able to afford." Keeping costs down is important, but let's not forget that it is the return on investment that we are ultimately after.