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Policymakers and the public view higher education achievement as central to the economic viability of both individuals and the nation. This belief further heightens their concerns about the affordability of higher education, which has seen growth in its cost to students and families outstrip the rate of inflation for decades. Given technology’s impact in creating efficiencies and improving performance in other economic sectors, many see it as a critical tool for reducing, if not reversing, the rate of growth in higher education costs and thus preserving access to higher education for moderate- and low-income students.
Technology’s potential to support affordability depends heavily on institutional capacity to adapt academic and administrative processes to capture the efficiencies and performance improvements technology may offer. Some argue, though, that adapting existing business models may not be enough. They stress that technology makes entirely new higher education business models possible, particularly via online learning, and that these new models are the key to a lower-cost, higher-outcomes future. Regardless of whether higher education faces evolution, revolution, or both, the ever-growing demand for and necessity of higher education will challenge institutions to use technology to reduce costs, increase access, and improve outcomes.
The following resources include information on how to keep college affordable, from government guidelines on providing prospective students transparent college costs to new higher education business models.
President Obama’s Blueprint for Keeping College Affordable and Within Reach for All Americans, White House, January 2012. President Obama explains the importance of a shared responsibility by the federal government, states, and colleges and universities to work together to keep higher education affordable for Americans.
College Affordability and Transparency Center
- College Abacus enables students to compare projected financial aid packages across schools and to identify schools within their budgets.
New Financial Business Models
"Technology and the Broken Higher Education Cost Model: Insights from the Delta Cost Project," EDUCAUSE Review, September/October 2012. This article illuminates the idea that unless the use of technology—whether in instruction or in the operation of the institution—is guided by an understanding of higher education costs and cost structures, its use will not fix the problem of a broken higher education cost model.
"Chapter 9: Western Governors University," Game Changers, May 2012. Western Governors University (WGU) was designed using technology to provide education that is accessible, flexible, and affordable without compromising quality. The founding governors knew that technology must take a transformational role in education in order to change the way we measure learning, expand the notion of how learning happens, and make possible learning that can take place anytime, anywhere. WGU has continued to provide affordable education at per-student tuition of approximately $6,000 for a 12-month year. Students, on average, graduate with a bachelor’s degree in 30 months, compared to a 60-month average for other institutions.
"Chapter 14: University of the People," Game Changers, May 2012. A key focus of the University of the People is to serve as a model for universities and governments by encouraging an industry-wide, global drop in education prices as it models the delivery of higher education at significantly less expense with its creative infrastructure. At its core, this innovative university hopes to create positive change in worldwide higher education through its disruptive effect.
"Rethinking Higher Education Business Models," March 2012. Information technology has long been seen as a major key to meeting this challenge, but the results thus far have been disappointing. In this brief from the Center for American Progress, the authors argue that the fault is not with the technology but rather in the ways it has been deployed.
Fixing the Broken Textbook Market: How Students Respond to High Textbook Costs and Demand Alternatives, U.S. Pirg Education Fund and The Student PIRGS, January 2014. During the fall of 2013, the Student PIRGs conducted a survey of 2,039 students from more than 150 different university campuses.
"Case Study 21: Shaping the Path to Digital: The Indiana University eTexts Initiative", Game Changers, May 2012. This case study focuses on the use of digital textbooks for cheaper and better access to content. This case study describes a pilot study to full implementation at Indiana University (IU), which is now in a trial phase at five peer institutions.
"Dramatically Bringing Down the Cost of Education with OER: How Open Education Resources Unlock the Door to Free Learning," February 2012. This issue brief from the Center for American Progress and EDUCAUSE seeks to provide a substantive understanding of OER and at the same time inform the emerging public debate over their use in public education. It is important that OER be part of the broader conversation concerning spiraling education costs and the need to make education more accessible and affordable at all levels.
Library Items on this Topic
EDUCAUSE Library Items for Affordability
- The Value Proposition for Badging in Higher Education Professional Development
August 20, 2014
A session at the EDUCAUSE Live! - The Value Proposition for Badging in Higher Education Professional Development
What's all the buzz about badging? Badging has rapidly become a viable method to document accomplishments gained throughout your career, whether before, during, or after completing a degree.…
- Understanding the Evolution of E-Portfolio Practice: Where Do We Go from Here?
January 13, 2014
Join Malcolm Brown and Veronica Diaz as they moderate this webinar with Gary Brown and Helen Chen. According to ECAR's annual study of undergraduate students and IT, seven times as many st…
- Advancing Without New Resources
August 12, 2014
A session at the EDUCAUSE Live! - Advancing without New Resources
As we look to the future of IT services in higher education, five things are almost certain: (1) demand for IT services and infrastructure will continue to grow; (2) off-premise (cloud) services …
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity Engagement for Colleges and Universities
July 24, 2014
A session at the EDUCAUSE LIVE! - U.S. Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity Engagement for Colleges and Universities
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is increasing its efforts to enhance cybersecurity awareness and network protection at colleges and universities in response to the recent wave of c…
- Quality Matters for MOOCs: Results and Implications of the First QM MOOC Reviews
December 2, 2013
In this webinar we’ll present the results of the first set of Quality Matters reviews of MOOCs developed for general and remedial education students. The strengths and weaknesses, relat…
- Assessment of E-Book Strategies
June 25, 2014
A session at the EDUCAUSE LIVE! - Assessment of E-Book Strategies
What do we know about the use and acceptance of e-books by students and faculty? At the December CNI Executive Roundtable, "E-book Strategies," several institutions reported on data col…
- Ithaka S+R US Library Survey 2013
July 10, 2014
A session at the EDUCAUSE LIVE! - Ithaka S+R US Library Survey 2013
In fall 2013, Ithaka S+R surveyed academic library deans and directors across the US on their organizational vision and strategy, resource planning, and decision making. With a response rate of m…
- Who Moved My Office? The Evolving Role of the CISO
June 19, 2014
A session at the EDUCAUSE LIVE! - Who Moved My Office? The Evolving Role of the CISO
In a fast-paced world of innovation, mobility, outsourcing, and social technology, today's chief information security officers must possess a blend of warrior-like technical skills combined …
- The Foundations of a High-Performance ITS Organization
May 28, 2014
A session at the EDUCAUSE LIVE! - The Foundations of a High-Performance ITS Organization
With a rapidly changing environment, ever-increasing demands for resources, and the need for greater agility and transparency, IT organizations must have the right structures in place to ensure s…
- Researchers and the Petabyte Go Global: Preparing the Next Generation of Innovators
May 13, 2014
A session at the EDUCAUSE LIVE! - Researchers and the Petabyte Go Global
New technologies and new cloud infrastructures are changing the landscape of research for all researchers, not just those working in computer science and informatics. Fundamental changes in scale…