Make postsecondary education affordable for low- and middle-income families


Lower the college cost burden for low- and middle-income students and families.

Institutions of higher education can develop and improve their practices related to affordability with actions such as

Switch university need-based aid from a last-dollar to a first-dollar funding method to provide more funding to low-income students so that they have enough to cover costs like school materials, high-speed internet, transportation, housing and childcare at contemporaneous prices. 

Provide more university need-based aid and scholarships to low- and middle-income students.

Strive to meet two-thirds of the cost of attendance for as many students as possible, starting with those facing the largest funding gap. 

Expand the use of open educational resources to bring down the cost of books. Require OER for general education courses. Provide more reserve copies of high-dollar texts in the college library.

Provide equipment, broadband or aid to students so they can access online courses and open educational resources.

Rethink fee structures and reduce additional fees.

Begin or improve programs that provide emergency funding to students.

Collaborate with federal, state and local government agencies, nonprofits and businesses to help low-income students with living costs. Partnerships might cover food pantries, free campus meals, bus or ride-share passes, free furniture rentals, room and board for students experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity, case managers to guide students if they apply for government assistance, free medical and mental health care or free hotspots.

Develop and require a financial literacy course or program for students and expand advising on finances, loans, and financial aid access and availability.

Provide more on-campus jobs and work-study programs so more students can work while enrolled full-time.

Be transparent with students and families about the true out-of-pocket cost of college and the value of obtaining a college degree that aligns with their skills and interests.

Implement a statewide marketing plan to bring students and families better information on the true costs and value over time.

Provide clearer guidance in high school to students and families about the costs of college and the value of different types of degrees and careers.

Provide clearer guidance and information to students and families about the benefits of FAFSA, including instructions for completing the application.

Collect and make available to students clear information about the types of support available from the state and college — including financial support, aid packages, and student success and completion support.

Improve comprehensive financial advising. Provide clear information about financial support for degree costs and living costs available that are to all enrolled students.

Improve career advising in high school and college, offering clear career pathways information.

Focus on ways to help students complete their degree or credential of value at a faster rate.

Improve and increase the use of dual enrollment and dual credit programs in high schools.

Accept more courses for credit that applies to a degree, including accelerated learning courses and transfer credits from previous schools or online courses.

Inform department leaders and students about course-sharing platforms and other initiatives to increase access to classes students need.

Accept competency-based learning assessments and demonstrations for credit.

Offer more high-quality online and asynchronous courses — as well as better access to broadband and equipment.

Reduce or eliminate time in remedial courses with strategies such as corequisite education.

Provide students better advising and mentoring on degree paths and on courses accepted toward their degrees.

Put students first when setting schedules, offering courses when students need the. Work with nearby universities or online course- sharing programs to offer more scheduling options.