Since 1981, the sticker price of college tuition has grown faster than the rate of inflation. In response, policymakers have historically provided individual and institutional subsidies to cover the rise in costs. There is mounting concern that this model is unsustainable. “We’ll never have enough loan money, we’ll never have enough grant money, to keep up with costs that are going up 5, 6, 7 percent a year,” President Obama warned in a recent speech. In response, policymakers have been actively searching for solutions so that taxpayers, students, and families are not left to foot the overwhelming tuition bills.
Unfortunately, despite a great deal of rhetoric, policymakers have tended to focus on the symptoms of this expensive problem (high tuition and debt) rather than the cause itself (how much colleges spend to provide a postsecondary education).
"Stretching the Higher Education Dollar" (Harvard Education Press) attempts to fill this void. In this new volume, education experts explain why costs have risen so dramatically, and explore innovative ways that education stakeholders can “bend the college cost curve” in an effort to rein in tuition prices without forgoing quality.
“The key is to seek out reforms that create an environment in which providers of all stripes—existing institutions, online universities, stand-alone course providers—compete with one another to provide high quality postsecondary education at the lowest possible price,” editors Andrew P. Kelly and Kevin Carey emphasize. Volume highlights include:
• Anya Kamenetz (Fast Company) offers a critique of the current higher education model, and makes the case for a system that is much cheaper, customizable, and responsive to student needs.
• Doug Harris (Tulane University) provides a framework that can help college leaders determine which policies and practices provide the most bang for our higher education bucks.
• Paul LeBlanc (Southern New Hampshire University) describes his institution’s expansion into online higher education, and its nascent effort to offer a radically low-cost, competency-based associate’s degree.
• Burck Smith (StraighterLine) argues that the existing higher education policy environment is ill-suited to tackle the college challenge, and recommends a new set of reform priorities that can encourage high quality learning experiences at low prices.
Additional contributors include:
• Robert Martin, Centre College
• Ari Blum and Dave Jarrat, InsideTrack
• Michael Staton, LearnCapital
• Ben Wildavksy, State University of New York’s Rockefeller Institute of Government and SUNY-Albany
• Paul Fain, Inside Higher Ed and Steve Kolowich, The Chronicle of Higher Education
• Jeff Selingo, The Chronicle of Higher Education
Andrew P. Kelly is a resident scholar and the director of the Center on Higher Education Reform at the American Enterprise Institute. Kevin Carey is the director of the Education Policy Program at the New America Foundation. Please contact a member of the Media Services team at [email protected] or 202.862.5829 for additional information or media requests.