Positioning Colleges and Universities for Future Success
Edited by Madeleine B. d’ Ambrosio and Ronald G. Ehrenberg
Ronald G. Ehrenberg and Madeleine B. d’Ambrosio CHANGING ISSUES, ENVIRONMENT AND EXPECTATIONS Higher education institutional leaders and higher education policymakers in the United States face daunting challenges in the years ahead. Inequities in college-going rates across students from diﬀerent socioeconomic and racial/ethnic groups have narrowed only slightly during the past 30 years and inequities in college completion rates have narrowed even less. The fastest growing groups in the United States are those that have been historically underrepresented in higher education and, as our economy becomes increasingly knowledge based, higher education becomes more essential both for these individuals’ economic well-being and for our nation’s productivity growth. Tuition at our nation’s private colleges and universities increased during the period at rates that exceeded the rate of inﬂation by about 3 percent a year and tuition as a share of family income has grown substantially. Posted tuition levels overstate the cost of college to students because the typical private college or university recycles almost 40 percent of its tuition revenues back to students in the form of grant aid. However, increasingly private colleges and universities award institutional grant aid based on ‘merit’ rather than need, as they seek to use their ﬁnancial aid policies to help ‘craft’ their entering class, rather than to guarantee access. The major growth of federal ﬁnancial support has been in the form of subsidized loans and tax credits, which beneﬁt primarily students from middleincome families, rather than in the form of grant aid for students...