NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

A Conservative Agenda for Higher Education Reform

August 7, 2015

When Americans think about opportunity and mobility, they think about higher education. Nearly three-quarters of Americans believe that getting a credential beyond high school is necessary to find a good job, and more than eight in ten Americans believe it will become even more critical in the years ahead. But after years of relentless tuition hikes, families increasingly feel trapped, forced to choose between taking part in a system where costs have skyrocketed while benefits have become more uncertain and consigning young adults to a lifetime of low wages. Seventy-seven percent believe that higher education is not affordable for those who need it, and only 40 percent believe higher education does a good or excellent job of providing value for the money.

An alternative vision for higher-education policy should not seek merely to pour more money into a broken system -- or, for that matter, just to pour less money into a broken system. Instead, policymakers should create space for new postsecondary options and financial-aid tools that better reflect the needs of today's students and can foster more competition.

Specifically, conservative reformers should:

  • Create more effective, sustainable ways to pay for college.
  • Give institutions a greater stake in their students' success.
  • Break down barriers to entry for new postsecondary options.
  • Empower consumers to make wise investments.

Source: Andrew P. Kelly, "A conservative agenda for higher education reform," American Enterprise Institute, July 29, 2015.


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