President Barack Obama begins a speaking tour in New York on Thursday to push his plan to make college more affordable at a university in Buffalo, N.Y., and a high school in Syracuse, N.Y.

The plan the president will propose focuses on tying funds for schools to performance, spurring innovation and competition and keeping student debt affordable, according to a fact sheet released by the White House on Thursday.

Obama will propose tying federal aid to universities to performance of students and affordability, as opposed to the number that enroll. To do this, the Department of Education will develop a rating system for college value by 2015, and that will be used to make aid decisions by 2018. He also will push a “Race to the Top” for states to reward better higher education with lower costs, the White House said.