3 reforms for higher education accessibility

Former governors recommend policy changes to keep higher education accessible, affordable.

education-accessibilityChanges to the federal student loan program to ensure better information for students, a broader definition of higher education, and more accountability for universities, can increase competition, transparency and innovation in higher education, according to new recommendations released by the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Governors’ Council.

The council consists of former governors Mike Beebe (D-AR), Jim Douglas (R-VT), Christine Gregoire (D-WA), Linda Lingle (R-HI) and Sonny Perdue (R-GA).

Their recommendations seek to ensure that higher education remains accessible and affordable while preparing young people for jobs in an ever-changing marketplace.

The council recommends three critical reforms:

• Delinking financial aid from the traditional definition of a credit hour to make it easier for students to receive aid while participating in competency-based programs.
• Requiring universities to have more “skin in the game” regarding their graduates’ loan default rates. The council argues that holding schools more accountable for their students’ post-college careers will encourage universities to provide degrees and educational experiences that have value in the job market.
• Providing prospective students with better information before they accept loans about their total projected debt from student loans, their repayment options, the length of time it will take to repay student loans and income potential based on their intended major.

“Our higher education system is among the best in the world and should be accessible and affordable to all students for whom college is the best career path,” the council members said. “Just as with our workforce training programs, colleges and universities must better prepare students for the modern workforce. Students must also be given ample information to assess their options and make the choice that best fits their goals, aspirations and future economic security.”

Material from a press release was used in this report.

Laura Ascione