UH Collaborates with State Policymakers to Improve Access to Higher Education

Hawaii one of eleven states chosen to participate in WICHE project

University of Hawaiʻi
Linda Johnsrud, (808) 956-7075
Interim Associate Vice President for Planning and Policy
Kristen Bonilla, (808) 956-5039
Public Information Officer
Posted: Jul 20, 2004

The University of Hawaiʻi is partnering with Hawaiʻi policymakers to explore and implement innovative strategies to improve access to higher education in the state of Hawaiʻi. The effort has been initiated through Hawaiʻi‘s selection to participate in Changing Direction: Integrating Higher Education Financial Aid and Financing Policy, a project of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) and its partners, the American Council on Education‘s (ACE) Center for Policy Analysis, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), and the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO).

Funded in part by a $1 million grant from the Lumina Foundation for Education, Changing Direction provides a venue for policymakers and educators from all regions of the country to critically examine the strengths and weaknesses of public policies and to develop new models by looking at emerging trends, their potential impact on higher education, and the policy implications related to issues of financial aid, finance, cost of education, and access.

Hawaiʻi is one of five states participating in the project that will explore and implement innovative ways of improving state-level policymaking strategies on tuition, financial aid, and state appropriations. The University of Hawaiʻi is working with key policymakers to develop a working knowledge of the issues surrounding state appropriations, tuition setting, and financial aid as they relate to access and retention.

Plans also include creating a set of shared principles as guidelines for long-term planning and budgeting for the university system; constructing a draft of the next five-year tuition schedule, including a plan for increases in need-based financial aid; and generating support in the legislature for a state-supported financial aid program benefiting residents attending public postsecondary institutions.

"This project provides a unique opportunity for policy makers in Hawaiʻi to think about the relationship between what the state provides to higher education, what UH charges students, and what financial help is available to students," said Linda Johnsrud, UH Interim Associate Vice President for Planning and Policy and state coordinator for the Hawaiʻi Changing Direction team. "These decisions have an enormous impact on the ability of students to afford college—and yet, in Hawaiʻi, like most states, the decisions about appropriations, tuition, and financial aid are made independently of one another."

In June, Johnsrud along with UH Acting President David McClain, Sen. Norman Sakamoto, chair of the Senate Education Committee, and Melanie Chinen, Deputy Policy Advisor to the Governor, attended a national policy meeting in Seattle to begin addressing the issues.

"As a result of this project, we hope to better integrate the financing of the university with the financial aid that is available in order to protect access for Hawaiʻi‘s citizens," said Johnsrud.

Changing Direction serves policymakers in the legislative and executive branches of state government and their staffs, higher education researchers, state executive agencies, governing and coordinating boards, educators, college and university leaders, and business and corporate leaders. The states involved in the project—Hawaiʻi, Idaho, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Tennessee—receive technical assistance so that they can develop consensus among their key policy and education players and implementation policies.

The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) and its member states work collaboratively to expand educational access and excellence for all citizens of the West. By promoting innovation, cooperation, resource sharing, and sound public policy among states and institutions, WICHE strengthens higher education‘s contributions to the region‘s social, economic, and civic life. WICHE‘s 15 member states are Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaiʻi, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. For more information, visit www.wiche.edu.

Lumina Foundation for Education, a private, independent foundation based in Indianapolis, strives to help people achieve their potential by expanding access and success in education beyond high school. Through research, grants for innovative programs, and communication initiatives, Lumina Foundation addresses issues surrounding financial access and educational retention and degree or certificate attainment, particularly among underserved student groups, including adult learners. For more details on the foundation, visit its web site at www.luminafoundation.org.

For more information, visit: http://www.wiche.edu/Policy/Changing_Direction