We the undersigned members of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) affirm our commitment to accessible, affordable and quality public higher education for all students.
We commit to increasing the number of undergraduate baccalaureate degrees by 3.8 million between now and 2025 while striving to provide those students with a quality education. We further commit to containing per student educational cost while pursuing enhanced quality.
We call for a renewed partnership among public colleges and universities, the states and the federal government as we work to achieve these goals.
We commit to the following:
- To strive for the “best in the world” degree status for America. Public colleges and universities will do our part to achieve 60 percent degree attainment by awarding an additional 3.8 million baccalaureate degrees by 2025. We will publicly track progress toward this goal.
- To make a concerted effort to reach out to former students who have attended our institutions but who have not earned a baccalaureate degree from any institution.
- To assure that educational quality is enhanced, not compromised, in the effort to increase degree attainment.
- To uphold the principles of student access, success and diversity in this pursuit.
- To reduce the average time to degree for our students.
- To constrain per-student educational expenditures while pursuing enhanced quality.
- To work closely with P-12 systems and community colleges, especially in the STEM fields and other areas of critical need.
- To support economic growth in our regions, states and country including research and innovation, commercialization of technologies, and economic development. For many institutions, this will include increasing graduates in areas of critical need including STEM fields.
These commitments will be achieved with a strong, renewed partnership among the states, the federal government and public colleges and universities, but there is significant work to be done. During the past 20 years, many states have maintained tight, regulatory institutional oversight while per student investment in public higher education steadily declined until 2008 when the decline accelerated, in part, because of the recession. During this same period, public colleges and universities contained per student educational expenditures to about the rate of inflation. These circumstances forced public institutions to raise tuition to compensate for the significant loss of state dollars. The total educational expenditures per student have been stable for many years, but the mix of student tuition versus state appropriations has shifted dramatically and continues to deteriorate. This trend must be reversed for public colleges and universities to continue to meet their obligations as institutions of public purpose. In short, the full partnership between public colleges and universities, the states and the federal government needs to be reestablished with each partner fulfilling its responsibilities.
The states must provide sufficient appropriations to support students and the discovery of new knowledge while extending greater operational flexibility for public colleges and universities.
The federal government must maintain its: commitment to student financial aid; support for research and innovation; and encouragement of states to continue their support for public colleges and universities.
Public colleges and universities must be more innovative in the performance of their essential roles while containing educational expenditures.
Education, including research, is the only public investment that provides both a social and an economic return. Policymakers need tangible evidence that public higher education is transforming to meet economic and educational needs. Achieving these commitments will ensure greater economic security for America and the next generation of citizens.
* AASCU and APLU understand that some individual institutions may not be able to contribute to these commitments to the same degree as others because of their particular circumstances, but we expect that the overall commitments will be met.