Jenna A. Robinson, president of The James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal, has authored one of the latest policy briefs on postsecondary education for myFutureNC, a statewide commission focused on educational attainment in North Carolina. Robinson serves as a postsecondary committee subject matter expert for the myFutureNC commission.

The policy brief, Affordability in NC’s Colleges & Universities: Policy Solutions to Minimize Student Debt & Maximize Repayment,” analyzes the relationship between affordability, debt, and postsecondary attainment at public and private, two-year and four-year institutions in North Carolina. It proposes six evidence-based reforms that North Carolina and its schools of higher learning can pursue to address sporadic problems in the current landscape of affordability and financial aid that cause a subset of students to struggle or fail to complete their education.

The recommended reforms include the following:

  • Remove barriers to credential completion, especially at schools with large populations of low-income and first-generation students.
  • Increase student knowledge of financial aid by making institutional award letters clear, transparent, and uniform.
  • Continue to create and improve articulation agreements to ease transfers between institutions.
  • Continue to keep tuition low for all students and target aid to the students with the most demonstrated financial need.
  • Increase use of performance based funding.
  • Consider changes to state aid programs that would encourage students to graduate on time, and extend the NC Community College Grant Program aid to vocational and continuing education programs.

Robinson added, “North Carolina already outperforms many other states in its commitment to low-cost higher education. A few sensible reforms can keep North Carolina on the right track.”

The policy brief also advises students to borrow in line with their expected salaries. In other words, a student’s total college debt should not exceed his or her total annual income after graduation.

“Affordability in NC’s Colleges & Universities: Policy Solutions to Minimize Student Debt & Maximize Repayment” is available for download on the myFutureNC website.