Access and Affordability

Working with student veterans on a daily basis, Jan Del Signore sees the challenges of making the transition from military service to civilian life, especially when assisting those building credentials to find sustainable employment. Unlike many college students, military veterans bring a set of skills and past training, but are less likely to persist to a degree and more likely to be unemployed. When postsecondary institutions offer college credit for prior learning in the military, most students complete college faster, attain a degree or credential and leave with less student debt.

A Dec. 2014 report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that while tuition at public colleges is rising, students - rather than states - are shouldering more of the burden than ever.

This act directs the Higher Education Commission to consider the creation of a proposed pilot program – Pay Forward, Pay Back. The pilot program would replace the current system of charging students tuition and fees for enrollment at public institutions of higher education. Instead, anyone who attended an in-state college or university would be required to pay a small percentage of their post-college income as a tax for 24 years (3% per year for graduates of a 4-year college; 1.5% per year for community college graduates). If the commission determines that a pilot program is warranted, the commission shall submit a proposal to the 2015 regular session of the Legislative Assembly.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that The Council of State Governments supports the establishment of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) and encourages its member jurisdictions to consider the new interstate agreement as an innovative policy solution that will increase degree attainment and reduce costs for students, states, and institutions; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The Council of State Governments staff will provide ongoing assistance to the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements’ national office and the four regional higher education compacts in their efforts to raise awareness about SARA.

The Act will effectively make tuition free for all high school graduates who go to a two-year college. Participating students will have to maintain a 2.0 grade point average, attend mandatory meetings, work with a mentor, and perform community service. The program, expected to cost $34 million per year, will be paid for using $300 million in excess lottery reserve funds and by creating a $47 million endowment.

With the cost of college tuition rising and graduates facing a globally competitive marketplace, states must focus on delivering quality higher education at a price that doesn’t prevent access. This session explored ways to ensure high-quality higher education in Western states.

The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement is intended to broaden the availability of—and access to—accredited online degree programs by reducing state regulatory barriers while ensuring strong consumer safeguards. The agreement is finalized and states are starting to participate. This session provided an update on progress of the agreement, as well as a discussion about what your state needs to do to become a member.

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At the start of the 2012-13 school year, online enrollment accounted for more than one-third of total enrollment at the nation’s degree-granting postsecondary institutions. Ten years prior, it made up less than 10 percent, according to enrollment trends tracked by the Babson Survey Research Group.

On April 22, the Supreme Court issued a decision in one of the biggest cases of the term. And that case might affect your state today—or could affect it soon.  In Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action the Supreme Court held 6-2 that voters may by ballot prohibit affirmative action in public universities admission decisions.

As NCSL’s Affirmative Action:  State Action chart describes, a number of states prohibit the use of affirmative action in a variety of contexts.  While this case was limited to the use of race in public university admission decisions, Michigan’s constitutional amendment also prohibits the use of racial-preference in state and local employment and contracting.  Presumably, these provisions are also constitutional. 

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Two years ago, a class of college students at Portland State University in Oregon came up with an alternative way of paying for college — an idea they called “Pay it Forward.” It has quickly attracted nationwide attention, including in some of the Midwest’s state legislatures.