Partners for Affordable Excellence @EDU cultivates affordable academic excellence at America’s public research universities. We seek to transform higher education in the next decade by nurturing a variety of strategic investments, advocating innovative research and policy and piloting new tools and structures to support change agent leadership.
Tuition and fees at public universities across the United States have skyrocketed. As those costs rise — often at rates faster than the growth of average family incomes — high-quality affordable post-secondary education grows further out of reach for middle and lower-income families.
Particularly at state “flagship” institutions, tuition and fee increases have far outpaced real family income growth for a decade or more. Student loan debt exceeds credit card debt and, at an average of approximately $30,000 per individual, this burden may be carried into middle age, negatively impacting home-buying and other activities essential to supporting a family.
Yet, as demonstrated in research from Public Agenda and many others, a dichotomy exists: the public insists that new answers be found to preserve and protect the core American belief that anyone can succeed with talent and hard work. Yet, many public university leaders maintain that tuition increases are inevitable and irreplaceable. Rankings, they contend, count more than affordable excellence.
The chances of “fixing” the system from inside seem increasingly unlikely. Progress seems incremental at best, particularly at “flagship” public research universities who set the pace for cost and the standards for excellence.
In 2014, this deadlock drove a number of philanthropists, edupreneurs, and researchers to collaborate and launch a new entity: Partners for Affordable Excellence @EDU, an innovative nonprofit foundation with a mission to catalyze and accelerate change at America’s premier public research universities in ways that maintain or enhance academic excellence and result in affordable tuition.