Wednesday, December 08, 2010

25 Ways to Reduce the Cost of College: Part 5

Today, with generous support from Lumina Foundation, CCAP is releasing the fifth and final installment of our book-length report 25 Ways to Reduce the Cost of College. Section 5 is titled "Improve Competition" and includes the following five chapters:
21. Ease the Credit Transfer Process Among Public Institutions: Americans are a nation of movers, and inter-institutional academic migration is commonplace. However, colleges historically have often made transferring credits difficult. Easing this process through bilateral or state-wide articulation agreements can cut costs and improve student completion rates.

22. Reform Financial Aid: The current financial aid system of loan programs, grants, tax free savings plans and tuition tax credits is overly complex and confusing. Furthermore, it fails to direct aid to the neediest students and encourages students and colleges to spend more money. Reform should involve a vast reduction in the multiplicity of federal programs, the simplification of the FAFSA form, a reintroduction of private competitive servicing of student loans, and moving to vouchering student assistance instead of institutional subsidies.

23. Reform Accreditation to Reduce Barriers to Entry: Despite failing to assure educational quality, accreditation is a costly certification process that serves as a significant barrier to entry to new and smaller institutions. A good accreditation system would be output-based, provide vastly more information to the public and would require accrediting organizations to be governed by those without any vested interest in the results.

24. Subsidize Students, not Schools: Currently higher education institutions serve as a middle-man passing aid dollars from the government along to students. Reconfiguring this system to fund students directly would introduce much needed competition between institutions forcing them to be primarily student-centered. This voucher system could also target aid to the neediest and deserving students.

25. Promote Competition Based on Value, Not Reputation: Colleges largely compete on reputation, quintessentially measured by the annual US News and World Report college rankings which encourage schools to spend more money to obtain a higher rank. However, reputation is not a good indicator of the actual quality of the education a college provides. The most critical element in any solution is developing value-added measures of what students gain from college attendance.
Each of these chapters can be downloaded individually for free from our website. Alternatively, interested readers can access each individual chapter here or download a summary of the report here or a copy of the entire report here.

For voracious readers who wish for more after reading all 234 pages of our "25 Ways" report, here's a link to Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations!

No comments: