Colleges and Costs: We’ve Got a Problem

While students at all levels strive for "A" grades, that letter comes into particular play in higher education with a big focus on concepts including access, achievement, accountability and affordability.

Several of those rise to the top for the Indianapolis-based Lumina Foundation for Education, which has a goal to increase the percentage of Americans who hold high-quality degrees and credentials to 60% by 2025. Last week, Lumina announced additional grants for seven states, including Indiana, that are seeking to enhance college and university productivity.

Wednesday, the latest (86-page) edition of The Fiscal Survey of States was released. Jamie Merisotis, president and CEO of Lumina, offered the following insightful comment in regard to expenditures and higher education:

"The report released today by the National Association of State Budget Officers and National Governors Association underscores the urgent need for states to reexamine the cost structure of American higher education. We cannot continue to spend twice as much per student as other developed countries and meet the nation’s needs for additional college graduates while also reducing our public investment. States challenged by falling revenue must find ways to finance public colleges and universities that encourage these institutions to graduate more students at lower expense with the same or higher quality.

Lumina is investing in potential productivity-enhancing solutions in seven states that are stepping forward to commit to change even amid dire fiscal circumstances. Governors, state legislators and business and higher education leaders all have roles to play. They need to be engaged in making sure every dollar is spent as wisely as possible to meet the challenge of increasing college access and student academic success, especially for underserved groups such as minorities, students from low-income families, first-generation college-going students and working-age adults."