The Affordability Agenda

THE GOAL:  Enhancing affordable access for low- and middle-income Virginians to marketable degrees and credentials and good Virginia-based jobs; making sustained progress in moving Virginia away from its current status as a low-state-support, high-tuition system.

No single strategy can make postsecondary education accessible for all Virginians; progress on college affordability will require investment and reform, including some or all of the following approaches:

  • STUDENT FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE. Improve affordability for low- and middle-income Virginians by increasing state support for financial aid at public higher education institutions, tuition assistance (TAG) grants at nonprofit private colleges, and workforce credential grants through the community college system.
    • Greater state resources devoted to student financial assistance also help moderate tuition by reducing the need for higher ed institutions to pay for financial aid through tuition revenues.
  • TUITION MODERATION INCENTIVES. Provide increased base funding that institutions can access through discretionary tuition moderation actions by their governing boards.
  • EXPANDING ACCESS. Initiatives that increase affordable access for low-income, first-generation, and under-represented students through community colleges, minority-serving institutions, and other access-focused programs.
  • INTERNSHIPS AND WORK-STUDY. Using the new Innovative Internship Fund to leverage employer investment and significantly expand internships and other experiential-learning opportunities that help students defray the cost of college.
  • INSTITUTIONAL PARTNERSHIPS. Using the new Institutional Partnership Performance Agreement (IPPA) statute to support institution-specific initiatives that promise longer-term affordability and predictability actions in exchange for sustained financial and regulatory commitments from the Commonwealth.
  • AFFORDABLE PATHWAYS. Expanding alternative pathways to more affordable degree and credential attainment, including increased dual enrollment, advance placement, community college transfers, online programs, and streamlined courses of study that enable expedited completion.
  • CONTROLLING COSTS. Improving institutional performance through reforms that bend the cost curve, including increased institutional and business collaboration, upgrading systems using new technology, and state regulatory reforms that emphasize managerial autonomy and outcome-focused accountability.
  • STATE SUPPORT STABILIZATION. Preventing tuition spikes during economic downturns and state revenue shortfalls through state and institutional reserves and/or a dedicated and reliable state funding source for higher education.
  • TRANSPARENCY AND CHOICE. Empowering students and their families to make more informed choices through enhanced academic and career advising and improved data and transparency regarding net price, likely student debt levels, and the return on investment (ROI) of particular degree and credential programs.


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