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State Profile

State Profile


In this Assignment, examine a particular state’s ability to provide access to higher education and maintain its affordability. For this Assignment, you should use websites and reports (including some you have already looked at in previous units) to construct a profile of a state of your choosing.

This is the sort of information you might gather as an employee in a public institution investigating the state’s financial support for your institution, or even as a citizen or parent investigating support for higher education in a particular state.

The sources listed in the required and optional Readings in Units 1 through 3 will be important sources of data, as will many of the following listed websites. You will use these resources to identify key indicators in the areas of access and affordability, and describe how the indicators you chose highlight the state’s support (or lack thereof) for public higher education. You will have to choose carefully among the various indicators, because there are many.

Completing your State Profile Assignment

  1. Decide which state you want to profile. You could choose the state in which you now live, or another one that is interesting to you.
  2. Examine the Readings from previous units and the websites listed below to identify indicators you might use to assess your chosen state’s ability to support higher education.
  3. Choose two or three indicators that relate to access and affordability policies in your state.
  4. Prepare your written state profile in the following format using the information you found.


Your state profile Assignment should adhere to the following format:

Introduction: Provide a context and purpose for your paper, including why you chose the state you did and why you are investigating state support for higher education.

Access: In a paragraph or two, describe the indicators you chose to determine how well your state provides access to higher education and related policies the state needs to support. Summarize whether you think the state does a good job of this, using appropriate references.

Affordability: In a paragraph or two, describe the indicators you chose to determine how well your state provides affordability in higher education and related policies the state needs to support. Summarize whether you think the state does a good job of this, using appropriate references.

Conclusion: Wrap up your paper, summarizing your major points.

Your paper should be 3–4 pages of content in length. Include proper title and reference pages. As always, be sure to cite all websites and documents (books, articles, etc.) using proper APA style.


Measuring Up: The National Report Card on Higher Education. National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. Retrieved from

Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved from

SHEF — State Higher Education Finance. State Higher Education Executive Officers Association. Retrieved from

NCHEMS Information Center. The National Center for Higher Education Management Systems. Retrieved from

Skim these reports now to become familiar with their content; you may want to use information included in them for your State Profile Assignment in Unit 3.

Jones D. (2003, October). Financing in sync – policy brief. Boulder, CO: Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. Retrieved from /JonesInsight.pdf

This is a short piece, written for higher education administrators, that provides a nice summary of public higher education finance as well as recommendations for state policy.

The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. (2002). Losing ground: A national status report on the affordability of American higher education. San Jose, CA: Author. Retrieved from _report_final_bw.pdf

This report presents national and state trends demonstrating the erosion of affordability of higher education, including a discussion of the relationship between economic growth and tuition levels.

Carlson, A. (2013). State tuition, fees and financial assistance policies. Boulder, CO: State Higher Education Officers Association. Retrieved from -and-financial-assistance-policies

The SHEEO has conducted frequent surveys of trends and philosophies addressing tuition and funding program and policies. Reports are available to the 2002–2003 year.

Davis, J. (2001, September). Designing a state student grant program: A framework for policy-makers. Synopsis. Retrieved from

Scan these quickly first, to get a sense of the issues, and then read them again more carefully to identify key points. You also should look at the Discussion topic for this unit so you can be looking for ideas that you can use in the Discussion. In fact, you can start on the Discussion even as you are reading through the articles. It is perfectly okay if you start the Discussion with one idea and then expand or even change your ideas as you participate.


**Heller, D. (2002). The policy shift in state financial aid programs. In J. C. Smart (Ed.), Higher education: Handbook of theory and research, vol. XVII (pp. 221–235). New York: Algora Publishing.

(eBook available in the Library)

Read parts I, II, and III of this paper (pp. 221–235) for an overview of the history of higher education financing in the U.S. and a discussion of recent shifts in who pays for college. You will return to this paper in Unit 3 when you examine financial aid policies in more depth.

Hearn, J. C. (2001). Access to postsecondary education: Financing equity in an evolving context. In J. Paulsen & M. Smart (Eds.), The finance of higher education: Theory, research, policy & practice. New York, NY: Agathon Press.

(eBook available in the Library)

Hearn addresses the evolution of federal student aid, emphasizing the lack of policy consistency and its impact on access to higher education for certain population groups.

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