NAICU Washington Update

Davidson President Testifies Before Senate College Affordability Committee

February 15, 2012

The Davidson Trust offers a "no-loans" financial aid package in meeting a student's demonstrated need. In early February, Davidson College President Carol Quillen testified before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, using the program as an example of the theme of the hearing:  "Innovations in College Affordability." 

Quillen explained that the college's substantial financial commitment to grant aid and campus employment has been made possible by a combination of Davidson's endowment, private foundation support, and individual contributions.  She emphasized the strong support of the Davidson community for the initiative, noting that over one-third of the college's annual support is designated by donors to support the trust.

One outgrowth of The Davidson Trust, initiated in 2007, is an increase in enrollments of underrepresented student groups and students with financial need.  However, Quillen noted, "The most telling indicator of our success is not graduation rates, or our increasingly diverse student body, or our growing reputation as a good place for first-generation students. The most telling measure is what our graduates do in and for the world."

Other witnesses on the panel, who focused on alternative higher education delivery models, were Robert Mendenhall, president of Western Governors University; Charlie Earl, executive director of the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges; and Kevin Carey with the Education Sector.

The committee also heard from Department of Education Under Secretary Martha Kanter, who offered an overview of higher education proposals that are part of President Obama's "Blueprint For An America Built to Last" (see earlier Washington Update story).  However, she wasn't able to give further details on the proposals, given that information was not to be made public until after the release of the President's budget proposal on February 13 (see related story).  Several committee members observed that federal regulation is a major contributor to higher education costs, and urged that the administration to give greater attention to this aspect of the college affordability issue.

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