WICHE Policy & Data Insights

These reports summarize major policy areas with individual state information and alternative approaches to support informed policy discussions.

2017

  • WICHE Insights

    Higher education was again fertile ground in 2017 for Western U.S. state legislatures, whose budget and bill dynamics affect students, families and postsecondary institutions across the region.

    We dove deep to discern some key trends:

  • Fewer Students, More Diversity: The Shifting Demographics of High School Graduates

    WICHE’s 9th edition of Knocking at the College Door: Projections of High School Graduates, released in December 2016, describes substantial demographic changes among U.S. youth for the next 15 years with critical implications for higher education, including:

  • Nonresident Student Enrollments and Their Growing Role in Paying for Public Higher Education

    As states and postsecondary institutions confront ongoing concerns about their fiscal health after a brief post-recession respite, colleges and universities across the nation are once again making their recruitment pitches to prospective students. Increasingly, public institutions are aiming these appeals well beyond their home states’ borders, in part because nonresidents (including international students) typically pay significantly more tuition than resident students.

  • Tuition & Fees in the West 2016-17

    WICHE's Policy Analysis and Research unit has released a new Policy Insights summarizing our most recent survey of published tuition and fees prices in all public institutions in the West in 2015-16, state budget levels, higher education appropriations, state financial aid programs, college affordability and related college finance topics and news.

2016

  • A Tale of Two Economies: 2016 Higher Education Legislative Activity in the West

    In 2016, there was an increasingly dramatic divergence between state economies in the West. Most states in the region benefited from an ongoing economic recovery, but states reliant on the energy sector for tax revenues were hit hard by the global decline in oil prices. This resulted in varying budget situations in legislatures across the West – outlined in this Policy Insights – with certain states dealing with significant cuts to higher education while others were in a position to make a wealth of new investments. Despite the region’s varied economic outlook, common themes did emerge.

  • Translating Research into Policy to Increase Equity in Higher Education: Lessons Learned from the ASHE-WICHE Collaborative

    Challenges to closing the gap between findings from academic research and effective policymaking are not new, and they will not be solved overnight. However, as the entire education sector faces mounting pressure to provide high-quality education under tightening fiscal constraints, all while demonstrating improving student outcomes, the time may finally be right for a renewed spirit of collaboration between higher education researchers and policymakers.

  • Tuition & Fees in the West 2015-16

    WICHE's Policy Analysis and Research unit has released a new Policy Insights summarizing our most recent survey of published tuition and fees prices in all public institutions in the West in 2015-16, state budget levels, higher education appropriations, state financial aid programs, college affordability and related college finance topics and news.

2015

  • Targeted Recovery: Recapping 2015 Higher Education Legislative Activity in the West

    Targeted Recovery: Recapping 2015 Higher Education Legislative Activity in the West summarizes key policy themes over the past year and highlights emerging issues to watch in future legislative sessions. Affordability was the dominant theme of the 2015 sessions; in an attempt to address affordability, legislators in the WICHE region passed bills freezing or limiting tuition increases and increased need-based aid and even offered low-cost degrees in an effort to improve financial assistance opportunities for students.

  • Coordinating Postsecondary Education and the Public Workforce System in Workforce Planning

    This brief provides an overview of key components of the public workforce system that are most relevant for state postsecondary education planners and leaders as they address issues of educational attainment and workforce skill needs, particularly among lower-income or less-skilled segments of their state.

  • Building Capacity for Tracking Human Capital Development and Its Mobility Across State Lines

    Over the past five years as the cost and value of higher education have gained increased policymaker, consumer, and media attention, the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) has worked with four of its member states to test how cross-state collaboration and data sharing might inform important questions about the development and mobility of human capital.

2014

  • Closing the Degree Gap: The West’s Contributions

    This Policy Insight is a supplement to WICHE’s annual Benchmarks indicators, which summarize the West states’ progress with improving access to, success in, and financing of higher education. In this brief, we explore one variant for how WICHE states might meet projected educational attainment goals, such as the 60 percent by 2025 goal set by the Lumina Foundation.

  • Affordability and Student Success: Recapping 2014 Higher Education Legislative Activity in the West

    After reaching a low point in 2012, state investment in higher education increased for the second year in a row in 2014 – something that had not happened since the Great Recession of 2008 began. With greater stability in some, though certainly not all, state budgets, many Western legislatures in 2014 looked for new ways to contain college costs for students.

  • Tuition and Fees in the West 2013-14

    WICHE's Policy Analysis and Research unit has released a new Policy Insight covering our most recent survey of published tuition and fees prices in all public institutions in the West in 2013-14. The report summarizes those findings and discusses state budget levels, higher education appropriations, state financial aid programs and related state finance policy innovations.

2013

  • Constructive Innovation: Recapping 2013 Higher Education Legislative Activity in the West

    After years of tight state budgets, cuts to postsecondary institutions, and rising costs for students, there was good news for higher education in the West in 2013. Increased state revenues allowed some -- though certainly not all -- states to appropriate more money to colleges and universities and look for ways to offer more financial aid and avoid steep tuition increases.

  • Demography as Destiny

    This policy brief summarizes the main findings from WICHE's eighth edition of Knocking at the College Door: Projections of High School Graduates publication. The brief places changes in the size and racial/ethnic composition of our nation's graduating classes in the context of the college completion agenda and the need for greater educational attainment. It also addresses how these demographic shifts, coupled with fiscal stress, are impacting the practice of enrollment management.

2012

  • New Approaches to the New Normal: Recapping 2012 Higher Education Legislative Activity in the West

    While tax revenues in many Western states have improved since FY 2011, the 2012 legislative sessions still experienced what has become the familiar round of funding cuts to higher education, coupled with tuition increases for students. The good news is that the cuts and increases weren’t as severe as in previous years, despite continued aversion to spending by most state legislatures. The bad news is that the loss of stimulus funds and the rising cost of health care, K-12 education, and other public services mean that states still face a tremendous amount of economic pressure.

  • Tuition and Fees in the West 2011-12

    WICHE's Policy Analysis and Research unit has released a new Policy Insight covering our most recent survey of published tuition and fees prices in all public institutions in the West in 2011-12. The report summarizes those findings and also addresses related state finance policies including state budget levels and higher education appropriations and state financial aid programs.

    CORRECTIONS APPLIED: MARCH 21, 2012

  • Undocumented Students in the West

    The question of whether undocumented students have a right to broad access to higher education is a debate that cuts across party lines and political ideologies, sometimes in unpredictable, rhetorically charged ways. “Undocumented Students in the West,” a new Policy Insights brief from the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, examines changing student demographics in the states and how the undocumented population may impact higher education in the years to come.

2011

2006

  • What State Policymakers Should Know About Federal Higher Education Policy

    Despite the mantra that education is primarily the states’ responsibility, the federal government is an important and influential player when it comes to providing higher education to the nation’s students. The federal government invests roughly $25 billion annually in higher education excluding loans that are ultimately repaid, military benefits that are earned, and tax credits. State policymakers need to understand the nature of this federal investment and the rationale behind it if they are to gain the maximum advantage from their state investments.

2005

2003