ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

  • Cost management is about more than stewardship of institutional resources—it’s about expanding student access and keeping higher education affordable for students and their families.

    Over the past 30 years, the rate of increase of college tuition and fees was 570%. That is more than four times the rate of increase in the Consumer Price Index and nearly twice that of medical care. An increase in the cost of college attendance of this magnitude is simply unsustainable.

    In these difficult fiscal times, the most common request ACTA receives from trustees and policymakers is guidance on how to contain costs while maintaining—or even improving—academic quality. ACTA provides trustees with the background they need in order to make effective policy decisions that will keep cost manageable while ensuring that colleges and universities make the best use of their most valuable asset—high quality teaching.


    Informing the Public

    ACTA’s State Reports focus on ways in which state higher education can do more with less. From Maine to California, this growing series provides hard data on growth in spending within the context of key measures of academic outcomes. ACTA looks at such issues as executive compensation levels, capital expenditures, and the cost of mission creep within the different sectors of public higher education. We advocate for making certain that public institutions provide timely and clear information to governing boards, policymakers and the public on how state funds are being spent.

    Guidance for Trustees

    ACTA and its Institute for Effective Governance provide consulting services to trustees dedicated to looking for additional ways to keep tuition low while maintaining high academic standards. Our work extends from identifying best practices for measuring efficient building utilization to technical advice on academic program review. We analyze growth in administrative and athletic spending in comparison to growth in spending on student instruction and help governing boards understand what questions to ask in deliberating upon and establishing institutional priorities.

    Guidance for Policymakers

    Public colleges and universities play a critical role in ensuring that students have as broad an opportunity as possible to obtain a postsecondary education. ACTA’s publications and testimony provide policymakers with an expert resource to help bridge conversations with trustees about cost management. We have recently addressed legislative groups and gubernatorial conferences in Maine, Virginia, South Carolina, Indiana, and Texas. We collect and analyze statewide data on hours of utilization of classrooms and laboratories and show how effective management will widen access for students and increase the tuition revenue for the institution. We analyze data on faculty productivity and identify under enrolled or duplicative academic programs that could be consolidated or eliminated.


    How Much is Too Much?

    July 2017 by ACTA |  

    With recent research from the Institute for Higher Education Policy showing that college is unaffordable for as many as 70% of working- and middle-class students, concerns about college costs are mounting.… Continue Reading >>

    The Cost of Chaos in the Curriculum

    November 2015 |  

    ACTA's report The Cost of Chaos in the Curriculum reveals that the vast array of course choices given to college students is a cause of exploding costs and poor academic outcomes.… Continue Reading >>

    Getting What You Pay For?

    April 2014 by ACTA |  

    ACTA today released a report that finds the country’s leading public institutions fail students and the American people in several key areas. Continue Reading >>


    Point of View: Sooners must address their spending practices

    The Oklahoman
    December 02, 2018 by Elliott Cole |

    Across the nation, public universities are facing serious fiscal challenges amid statewide funding reductions and declining enrollments. Exorbitant tuition increases can no longer address the problem.… Continue Reading >>

    Debating the Right Spending Ratio

    Inside Higher Ed
    July 25, 2017 by Rick Seltzer |

    Context is key for governing boards trying to exercise oversight of colleges and universities. It can also be surprisingly hard to come by, according to the American Council of Trustees and Alumni.

    Continue Reading >>

    Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education to seek consultant to deal with deficit

    Pittsburg Tribune-Review
    February 03, 2017 by Deb Erdley |

    Facing a projected $79 million deficit as state budget negotiations are about to begin, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education is seeking help from outside experts to realign operations that… Continue Reading >>