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.

WHAT WE ARE DOING

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.

Resources

Getting What You Pay For?

April 2014by ACTA |  

ACTA today released a report that finds the country’s leading public institutions fail students and the American people in several key areas. Getting What You Pay For? examines 52 top-rated...

Continue Reading >>

Setting Academic Priorities

May 2012by ACTA's Institute for Effective Governance |  

Higher education is in the midst of a deep financial crisis, and the failure of governing boards to focus on academic programs is arguably the single greatest cause of overspending. This brochure...

Continue Reading >>

Cutting Costs

July 2010by Michael Poliakoff |  

With colleges and universities across the country feeling the pinch, this guide argues that trustees can no longer continue to reflexively increase tuition and ask for more funding, but must rather...

Continue Reading >>

Press

93 Public College Presidents Make More Than President Obama

Huffington Post
July 03, 2014 |  

Nearly 100 public college presidents and chancellors made more money in 2013 than President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama.

A review by The Huffington Post of the annual report from...

Continue Reading >>

Higher Education’s “Obesity” Problem

Minding the Campus
August 02, 2012 |  

Open a marketing brochure for any college or university in the United States and you'll find an info-graphic touting the variety and number of degree programs that the institution offers. The more...

Continue Reading >>

A Revolutionary Idea: Cutting Tuition

Washington Examiner
May 29, 2011 |  

How about a 10 percent cut in tuition?

In a day when college costs defy gravity as a rule, it sounds like a fantasy. But the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., recently cut tuition by 10...

Continue Reading >>