In November 2001, the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) and its partners – the American Council on Education’s Center for Policy Analysis, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and the State Higher Education Executive Officers – launched a project titled Changing Direction: Integrating Higher Education Financial Aid and Financing Policy, funded by Lumina Foundation for Education. Designed around an integrated approach to restructuring higher education appropriations, financial aid, and tuition policies and practices, the project had the overarching goal of examining how to structure policies to maximize access, participation, and success in higher education.
Changing Direction has supported a variety of activities: targeted technical assistance to 14 states; national and multistate policy forums; commissioned papers; and policy publications. In addition, WICHE convened four leadership institutes for higher education governing board members, state legislators, governors’ staff, and state legislative education staff from different states. The institutes, held in Chicago and Minneapolis, allowed participants to share information about challenges and strategies associated with the alignment of higher education financing policy. Several themes that emerged at these leadership institutes are the focus of this issue of Exchanges