The Impact of Cost-Containment Proposals Associated with the Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act

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The Impact of Cost-Containment Proposals Associated with the Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act

Authors

Jocelyn Milner (BIO)

Associate Provost and Director, Academic Planning and Institutional Research
Staff Affiliate, WISCAPE
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Clare Huhn

Senior Policy and Planning Analyst, Academic Planning and Institutional Research
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Summary

Various legislative bills associated with the reauthorization of the federal Higher Education Act have included provisions that target colleges and universities that persistently increase tuition at rates beyond a set threshold. Under these bills, such institutions would be publicly identified and subject to sanctions, although the details of these sanctions have varied from bill to bill. For example, versions of the College Cost Reduction Act of 2007 would assign affordability alert status to institutions that increase tuition at more than twice the rate of inflation over a three-year period and do not meet exemption conditions.

This analysis uses publicly available tuition and fees information to answer three questions: (a) which universities have had tuition increases greater than twice the rate of inflation in recent years; (b) how does the rate of change in tuition divided by the rate of inflation relate to tuition; and (c) are the institutions charging the highest tuition most frequently those that would be subject to sanctions?

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