January 19, 2022

New Report From Ithaka: “The Effects of Rising Student Costs in Higher Education: Evidence from Public Institutions in Virginia”

From an Ithaka News Release:

“The Effects of Rising Student Costs in Higher Education: Evidence from Public Institutions in Virginia” finds that when state funding for higher education erodes, the impact is most severe on low-income students.

With support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the report’s authors worked with a uniquely comprehensive and detailed dataset managed by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) to analyze trends in state aid, what students pay to attend, and student outcomes. Their work has yielded some of the strongest statistical evidence to date of the relationship among these trends.

Looking at data covering more than 1.4 million students who enrolled in public institutions in Virginia between the 1997–98 and 2012–13 academic years, the report demonstrates the impact of rising net costs on students from different income demographics. The research paints a dire picture of rising inequality of access to and completion of higher education.

Virginia is not alone in the challenges it faces. Almost every state saw declines in state funding for public higher education since 2008, accompanied by significant increases in tuition and other student charges. Based on the results obtained in this study, it seems clear that these trends, if continued, will inexorably lead to lower retention and graduation rates for students across the nation, particularly among the poor and near-poor.

The report concludes with a set of recommendations—including performance-based funding, focusing on productivity, and bolstering need-based financial aid—for states and institutions to mitigate the harm these trends have caused.

The report was written by:

  • Christine Mulhern
  • Richard R. Spies
  • Matthew P. Staiger
  • D. Derek Wu

Direct to Summary Blog Post

Direct to Full Text Report (102 pages; PDF)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.