New Reports Explain How to Rein in College Costs

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“The fiscal crisis has brought American higher education to a watershed moment.” –Andrew P. Kelly, Research Fellow, AEI

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, April 11, 2013

State budget cuts have led to significant tuition increases, and student loan debt now exceeds the debt attached to credit cards. In response, policymakers have focused on helping debt-laden students pay off their loans, and shaming colleges with high tuition prices. But these policy fixes are temporary remedies that ignore the root cause of student debt: growth in the cost of college.

After decades of maintaining affordability by investing increasing amounts in student financial aid, even President Obama has admitted that student aid investments cannot keep pace with rising tuition prices. This reality has focused the national debate on how to contain the cost of delivering a college education.

To shed light on this question, AEI’s Andrew P. Kelly is proud to release three new pieces of research that offer concrete, near-term steps that policymakers and leaders can take to reel in college costs.

  1. In “Addressing the Declining Productivity in Higher Education Using Cost-Effectiveness Analysis” Douglas N. Harris provides a framework that can help college leaders determine which policies and practices provide the most bang for our higher education bucks. 
  2. In “Initiatives for Containing the Cost of Higher Education,” William F. Massy offers a comprehensive reform agenda for policymakers interested in cost containment.
  3. In “Public Policies, Prices, and Productivity in American Higher Education,” Arthur M. Hauptman examines the impact of federal and state policies on the escalating costs and diminishing productivity of higher education, and offers a series of suggestions for federal and state policy reforms.


Douglas N. Harris is the associate professor of economics and university endowed chair in public education at Tulane University. William F. Massy is professor emeritus and former vice president for business and finance at Stanford University. Arthur M. Hauptman is a leading higher education observer and public policy consultant. Andrew P. Kelly is a research fellow in education at AEI. They can be reached through Lauren Aronson at [email protected] or 202.862.5904.

Contact [email protected] (202.862.5829) to set up an interview.

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