State Policy Initiatives

We advocate for the widespread adoption of evidence-based public policies that improve the affordability, transparency, and quality of America’s public colleges and universities.

Public Engagement and Accountability

Students and families should have adequate and meaningful opportunity to engage in tuition and fee-setting processes at public colleges and universities. We support public policies that facilitate greater institutional accountability to students, families, and taxpayers for decisions related to the price of college. For example, at least 10 states have mandated public comment periods prior to approval of a tuition and fee increase.


Tuition and fees at public colleges and universities have grown at a greater pace than either inflation or family income. We support public policies that limit increases in tuition and fees to ensure that students and families do not spend more or take out more in loans to attend or continue attending college. For example, as of fiscal year 2018, 14 states had a freeze or cap on in-state undergraduate tuition.

Performance-based Funding

Adequate state funding for public colleges and universities is critical to solving the college affordability problem. But taxpayer dollars should be invested within a robust framework of accountability to ensure that scarce resources are invested in institutions that do the right thing for students and families. We support “pay for performance” public policies that provide incentives for colleges and universities that meet certain performance standards, including access, affordability, and student success. For example, at least 26 states have implemented some form of institutional funding that ties state appropriations to institutional performance.

Institutional Governance

In almost every state, governing boards of public colleges and universities are appointed by the governor. We support public policies that ensure that board members have the resources they need to make informed decisions about college affordability and fulfill their responsibilities to the taxpaying public. For example, at least seven states have required training for members of governing boards of public colleges and universities.

Affordable Pathways

We support public policies that make it easier for students to pursue and complete an affordable, quality education across our diverse set of public colleges and universities. Many states have adopted policies that mandate or create an environment for colleges and universities to develop more seamless pathways between institutions and ensure that students complete their desired credentials on time and with little to no debt.


Our public colleges and universities are incubators of innovation. We support state policies that spur innovation in institutional operations and increase institutional effectiveness, efficiency, and quality while reducing the cost of providing an education. For example, many states have adopted policies that create opportunities for smarter use of technology such as online learning and open educational resources.


Transparency is the foundation of greater accountability. We support public policies that make relevant data about institutional spending and student outcomes more accessible to the public. For example, more granular data regarding student outcomes at the program level can drive more meaningful and actionable conversations about practices that facilitate student success while helping keep costs down.

The Problem

Learn more about the student debt and college affordability crisis that these policies aim to help solve.


State Stats

Explore our extensive research to see how college affordability issues are impacting you and your state directly.


Join the Movement

The cost of higher education has risen out of control. We must do more to make quality public education affordable for all students and restore trust in our institutions. If you agree, sign your name here.

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