Washington, DC–APLU President Peter McPherson today released the following statement regarding Secretary Clinton’s new college affordability proposal.
“From the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890, to the GI Bill of 1944, the Higher Education Act of 1965, to the Post-9/11 GI Bill of 2008, the United States has a long and proud history of making an affordable and accessible college education a national priority.
“A report issued just last week showed that 95 percent of jobs created during the recent economic recovery have gone to those with education beyond a high school diploma. It’s never been more clear that our nation’s leaders need to truly grapple with the issue of college affordability for the sake of our country’s future. We must ensure that cost is not the reason why any American cannot pursue his or her dream of a college education. While we look forward to additional details on her latest proposal, Secretary Clinton seems to clearly recognize the need for such an effort.
“Collectively, public institutions educate nearly three-quarters of all post-secondary students in the United States and offer the most affordable and accessible path to the vast opportunities that a college degree provides. Public colleges and universities have a leading role to play for our nation to meet its goal of having 60 percent of working age adults possess a post-secondary degree. For that to be possible, however, it is critical that federal policy be aimed at ensuring our public colleges and universities are accessible, affordable, and continue to offer world-class quality instruction.
“We appreciate the significant attention Secretary Clinton has devoted to college affordability during her campaign. The ‘New College Compact’ she announced last year rightly recognizes the need for states to adequately fund their public colleges and universities. State disinvestment from public higher education has shifted much of the cost burden from state ledgers and onto the shoulders of students and their families. Public four-year universities have sought to spare students from facing the full brunt of state disinvestment. During the six year period of 2006-07 to 2012-13, after adjusting for inflation, four-year public universities experienced state funding cuts of $2,370 per student, while tuition and fee revenues increased by only $1,940. Schools absorbed a net loss of $430 per full-time student.
“Efforts to create a meaningful federal-state partnership are critical to making college affordable and accessible to all. We look forward to learning additional details about the Clinton proposal announced today to provide free tuition to students from households earning less than $125,000 annually. Additionally, we’ve long-supported a year-round Pell program to help students complete college in a timely and more affordable manner.”