Making Opportunity Affordable:
Investing in College Access and Success
The United States’ future economic growth and standard of living, and the success of all of our young people, depend on addressing the crucial challenges confronting higher education. How can the nation ensure that students are learning more and acquiring the essentials to compete in the global economy? How can America educate its low-income students and students of color to ensure that a higher percentage of them graduate with the ability to meet changing workforce demands?
Lumina Foundation for Education is committed to helping find the answers – while containing institutional costs. The multi-year Making Opportunity Affordable: Investing in College Access and Success initiative is focused on assisting states and institutions in addressing three fundamental problems:
- Stagnant Educational Attainment and Unequal Opportunity. The U.S. has slipped from first to tenth among industrialized nations in the percentage of young adults with a college education as significant disparities in college access and success continue across racial, ethnic, and income groups;
- Financial Stress. The amount of money that colleges and universities spend to provide education to their students continues to rise faster than consumer prices and family income, placing greater strain on students and taxpayers; and
- Warning Signs on Learning. According to a national study, prose literacy among adults with college degrees dropped between 1992 and 2003.
These trends point to a dangerous “productivity gap” in higher education: Students and taxpayers are spending significantly more and getting less.
The initiative, managed by Jobs for the Future, aims to help states and institutions increase the percentage of college-educated adults by promoting cost containment and strategic investment of resources in student success. The initiative will:
- Spark a national dialogue about investing resources to achieve results, in order to achieve consensus about new ways of educating students and new strategies for improvement;
- Mobilize and support leaders eager to take action;
- Unite courageous innovators to share ideas and strategies;
- Develop useful tools to help colleges and policymakers better identify and monitor institutional spending and reforms;
- Produce research to explore key issues in the field, including the causes of escalating costs, and the most potent changes in policy and practice;
- Fund model programs in states and institutions through multi-year Opportunity Grants to selected states and their higher education systems; and
- Identify, document, and disseminate what is learned to foster implementation in additional states and their higher education systems and institutions.