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Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, said he sees areas where members of his party can work with Mr. Obama to control costs, but he urged the president to call on colleges to limit salaries for executives.

Mr. Grassley also said the key to controlling costs is to help the consumer side of the equation.

“The more students and parents become savvy shoppers, the more colleges would be forced to rein in rising costs to compete for students,” Mr. Grassley said.