Ensuring that all Virginians have affordable access to one of our excellent colleges, universities, and community colleges is a moral, economic, and social imperative. No Virginian can be left out or left behind.
Our nationally acclaimed higher education system is among our Commonwealth’s most valuable assets, with a return on investment (ROI) for graduates that is among the highest in the nation. Our institutions are efficient, achieving this success with comparatively low spending and state support per student. But this standout performance and ROI have no value for the student who cannot afford to attend, and the value is greatly diminished for students and families who emerge from the experience with stifling student loan debt.
Providing affordable access for all Virginians is a shared responsibility. The Commonwealth, our higher education institutions, and the Virginia business community must step up together to make strategic investments, stabilize funding, bend the cost curve, and create new and innovative pathways to degrees, credentials, and good job opportunities.
To achieve these access and affordability goals, Growth4VA advocates these policy priorities:
- Create a spirit of partnership in which Virginia’s state government, colleges, and businesses collaborate to make our colleges’ strong ROI accessible to all Virginians.
- Establish managerial and financial incentives for improved affordability, including:
- Increase financial aid, including the Tuition Assistance Grant, to enhance social mobility, relieve the middle class squeeze, and reduce student loan debt.
- Provide tuition moderation incentive funding that encourages tuition restraint by restoring state-level investment.
- Avoid future tuition spikes due to state budget cuts—and enhance the state’s fiscal position—by creating a higher education reserve fund.
- Develop agreements that promote institution-specific educational and economic outcomes and combine greater outcome-based accountability (tied to funding) with increased managerial flexibility.
- Promote innovative solutions that lower costs and enhance affordability, including:
- Alternative pathways to degree and credential attainment.
- New technologies and business processes that improve performance and control costs.
- Internship, externship, and work-study options.