Report: Emergency Measures Needed to End Crisis in College Opportunity
SAN JOSE, Calif.
Governors and legislators should adopt emergency measures to stem the crisis in college opportunity, according to recommendations in “Responding to the Crisis in College Opportunity” released earlier this month by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. The recommendations would provide that all eligible students have the chance to enroll in, and afford, college.
Conservative estimates are that at least 250,000 prospective students were shut out of college due to rising tuition or cutbacks in admissions and course offerings. In 2003, many states reduced funding to colleges and universities disproportionately to overall state funding cuts. The major burden of the cuts was borne by students and families in the form of steep tuition increases, reduced college opportunity and increased debt, according to the report.
“Only strong leadership by governors and legislators can stop the hemorrhaging of college access and affordability in 2004,” said Patrick M.Callan, president of the center. “A set of emergency measures are needed to prevent further damage to college opportunity.”
The highest priority for state higher education budgets in 2004 should be to protect college access and affordability for students and families, the report says. “Governors and legislators should deliberately and explicitly seek feasible alternatives to what has became an almost automatic shifting of state revenue shortfalls to students and families,” according to the statement.
Among the report’s recommendations — if states must cut higher education budgets in 2004:
• Do not cut higher education disproportionately to overall state funding cuts.
• Do not cut state appropriations to colleges and universities that serve primarily students from low- to middle-income families.
• Temporarily freeze tuition at community colleges and public four-year colleges that serve predominately low- to middle-income students.
• Increase or at least maintain funding for need-based financial aid programs.
• Increase tuition moderately at public research universities to the extent that the state can make a commensurate increase in need-based financial aid.
And, if states can increase funding for higher education in 2004:
• Invest new state resources in institutions accommodating enrollment growth.
• Give funding for enrollment growth a higher priority than funding for inflation adjustments.
• Hold tuition increases to the rate of growth in family income in each state.
• Invest new resources in state need-based financial aid programs.
For more information on the report visit the center’s Web site at <www.highereducation.org>.
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