Access and Affordability

Student activists are mad. Protests over tuition increases have been put on hold (for the time being). Their wrath now is turning to a different target – soaring textbook costs. Federal studies show the cost of college textbooks has grown more than four times faster than the rate of inflation since 2000. The College Board estimates the average full time student will spend more than $1,100 on textbooks this year.

In 2009, about 25,000 Minnesotans took advantage of one of the five tuition-reciprocity deals the state has with neighboring jurisdictions. These agreements allow residents to attend out-of-state colleges at the rates of comparable home-state institutions. Keeping these additional college options open to students requires states to coordinate and cooperate with one another, and this year, Minnesota and Wisconsin were able to strike a deal that will allow their long-standing reciprocity program to continue.

As college costs rise, and with many household incomes stagnant, students have become increasingly reliant on the various forms of tuition assistance available to them, including state grant aid.

The first Drafting Team meeting for the Multi-State Distance Education Reciprocity Compact began with introductions followed by a review of the compacts mechanism and the opportunities it presented.  The Drafting Team then launched into a discussion of the key priciples to guide the drafting of the compact.  After this discussion and lunch, the drafters reviewed their earlier work and refined the language of the outline developed during the morning meeting.  The drafters also reviewed comments from the Advisory Panel and made additions to the outline as needed.

Staff from CSG’s National Center for Interstate Compacts will convene the first drafting team meeting of the Interstate Reciprocity Compact September 15-16.  CSG, in conjunction with the President’s Forum and a team of subject matter experts, will begin drafting language for an interstate reciprocity compact with the goal of enhancing the current state regulatory environment and eliminating redundancies and inefficiencies for both institutions and the states where they reside. 

A 2010 report by the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance shows the initial enrollment rates at four-year institutions among academically qualified low- and moderate-income students dropped from 54 percent to 40 percent between 1992 and 2004. In 2009-10, states awarded more than 4 million grants, representing nearly $9 billion in aid. Of this amount, 73 percent was need-based and 27 percent was merit-based.

Traditionally, community colleges have served an important but limited role in higher education. They offer students two-year associate’s degrees. Students typically are able to attend classes close to home, sparing them the need to pay room and board; and they prepare students to enroll in four-year universities where they can work toward bachelor degrees. A bill in the Michigan legislature would  make that state the latest to authorize community colleges to offer four-year degrees for students.

Business and industry have always relied on policies and programs that ensure young people receive a high-quality education. That relationship has become symbiotic as state and local school officials become increasingly dependent on outside funding sources. In return, corporate America expects improved K-12 and postsecondary schools to provide a better educated and trained workforce.

Oregon has become the 17thstate to enact legislation granting college tuition waivers for foster children. The Oregon Senate voted 25-4 in favor of House Bill 3471, sending it to Gov. John Kitzhaber for consideration.

The bill is intended to increase access to postsecondary institutions for foster children. Under the Oregon legislation, participating students will be required to complete 30 hours of community service each year.

Maryland became the 12th state in the country to allow illegal immigrants living within its borders to attend colleges and universities at in-state prices when Gov. Martin O’Malley signed Senate Bill 167 in early May.