Today, the promise of American higher education is at risk. The country’s public institutions – once envisioned as affordable, accessible engines of social economic mobility – enroll the majority of college students. But students face mounting hurdles, as tuition and fees at public universities have increased more than three times the rate of inflation in the last 30 years. Financial aid has not kept up, as the out of pocket costs for full-time students at four-year public universities doubled over the last two decades.
Today’s student debt crisis, which surpasses combined outstanding credit card debt, has become a hinderance to graduates’ economic mobility.
Costs at state colleges and universities will continue to grow unless state policymakers and boards of trustees, charged with oversight of public higher education, begin to think and act differently. Behind each and every tuition and fee increase there lies a vote by a public board - often unanimous. Students and families, however, rarely have a seat at the policymaking table.