The institutions signing the commitment also pledge to continue to “constrain per-student educational expenditures while pursuing enhanced educational quality.” The institutions note that public colleges and universities have limited increases in these expenditures to about the rate of inflation for the past 20 years, even though there has been a significant decline in state appropriations for public education in many states during that period. This is what has “forced public institutions to raise tuition to compensate for the significant loss of state dollars,” the signers say, even though they have kept per-student education expenditures essentially flat.
Other portions of the Project Degree Completion commitment pledge support for student access and diversity; efforts to reduce the average “time to degree” for students; and closer partnerships with elementary and secondary schools and community colleges to prepare students to earn four-year degrees, particularly in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Not only are commitments from institutions required, but also “a strong, renewed partnership among the states, the federal government, and public colleges and universities.”
The commitment asserts that “states must provide sufficient appropriations to support students and the discovery of new knowledge,” while 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.” The commitment also stresses that public colleges and universities must be “more innovative in the performance of their essential roles.”
“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,” say the institutions signing the Project Degree Completion commitment.