Recent times as in starting back to 1985? I guess colleges knew that someday Obama was going to be elected and planned accordingly. To blame Obama for this is just plain dishonest. Pell grants are the life's blood for people to go to college that are not daddy's little rich boy/girl.
College Tuition & Fees vs. Overall Inflation | Intellectual Takeout (ITO)
One of the problems I see is the structure that colleges are funded. Most deals are that you spend every dime in a good year so you can get that and more the next. If you don't spend it then the following budget will do down by the difference. That doesn't inspire frugality does it.
My college got into it with the state because they got some fund and instead of spending it all they held it for a bit and only spent the interest to buy new computers for the science department and they planned on doing this forever. When the state got wind of the account is was either spend it or see next years budged go down by that amount.