The bad reviews for President Obama’s College Affordability Plan keep rolling in.

The latest comes from the Editorial Board of USA Today, and it shockingly free-market-friendly (hat-tip, Instapundit).

Under this program, a graduate would pay 10% of his or her income regardless of the amount borrowed. If the payment is not enough to cover interest, the government would make up the difference. If the payment rises dramatically because of higher than anticipated income, the graduate could shift back into a traditional repayment plan.

Then, after 20 years (10 years for people in certain public service jobs), any remaining balance would be forgiven.

This idea might sound appealing, as it would benefit students who want to take low-paying jobs that serve their communities, or have to take low-paying jobs thanks to the slow economy.

But it comes with a price that would undermine the efforts of Obama and others to pressure colleges to become more efficient.

The cost of higher education is already something of an abstraction to students. If they knew they might not have to repay all that they borrow, they would have even less incentive to be smart consumers when shopping for a college. Colleges, in turn, would have less incentive to control their costs and to pass on the savings in the form of lower tuition.

That leaves the Obama plan at war with itself. It would pressure colleges to hold down costs while encouraging students to be less concerned with those costs. And it would use the income of graduates as an important measure of success for colleges, while providing incentives for graduates to take jobs that pay less.

Ultimately, the best thing that could happen for students and taxpayers is not some convoluted, government-directed student aid plan. Rather, it is a smashing of the bubble that has sheltered higher education from much-needed change.