Our postsecondary education system has long served as one of the key levers for broadening economic and social mobility. Yet, in 2011-12, students and families paid more than $154 billion in tuition and fees to attend institutions of higher education and borrowed more than $106 billion in federal loans to pay these bills. Few realize that the odds of graduating within the advertised time-to-degree are extremely low, with 38 percent of students that enter a four-year degree program and 21 percent of students that enter a two-year degree program graduating on time. This reality calls out strongly for reform.
Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) will discuss their proposed legislation to promote innovation and create greater accountability for our system of colleges, universities, and training centers as solutions to address the rising cost and stagnating quality of American postsecondary education. A new Center for American Progress column will discuss performance-based funding and rating systems as a means to create better value for students and families. A panel will discuss emerging approaches to reform that show promise for reducing costs and improving academic quality.