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College Affordability


The price of college has skyrocketed over the past several decades and college is increasingly unaffordable for many Americans. CHERP researchers are examining the role of public finance policies in shaping college affordability, and the impact of policies on equitable college access and success.

University of Utah Honors Praxis Lab on College Affordability

Praxis Labs at the University of Utah’s Honors College are known for tackling innovative solutions to pressing societal challenges. In 2020-2021, one praxis lab explored the topic of college affordability and was co-taught by CHERP Director Dr. Jason Taylor and USHE Associate Commissioner Dr. Julie Hartley. 

Promise Programs and Free College

CHERP researchers partnered with SLCC to study the SLCC Promise program to understand how the program works, how it influences students, how it influences institutional performance, and how to improve it. More research results are forthcoming. CHERP researchers are also studying the development of state-level policy programs to understand how they were developed and who they were intended to serve.

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Income Share Agreement (ISA) "Invest in U" Program

In 2019, the University of Utah launched an Income Share Agreement (ISA) program called “Invest in U.” The ISA pilot program is designed to fill funding gaps so students can finish their degree. Once employed, students fulfill their ISA contracts by paying a small percentage of their earnings and payments go back into the Invest in U fund to support future students. A CHERP researcher team is conducting a mixed methods study to examine students’ experiences with the Invest in U program and the impact of Invest in U. 


Affordability for Community College Students

On various projects, CHERP researchers are examining different dimensions of affordability for community college students and community college transfer students. Look for forthcoming research and studies on the role of community college tuition and how to use financial aid to promote community college transfer student success.

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Borrowing Smarter or Borrowing More? Investigating the Effects of a Change in Federal Loan Policy

CHERP Researcher, Dr. Paul Rubin, and colleagues analyze the effects of a change in Stafford loan limits that impacted one subgroup of borrowers. Findings consistently revealed that increases in federal loan limits did not result in students borrowing more. Instead, students utilized newly available Stafford loan dollars to substitute away from other loan sources with less favorable terms, such as private and parent PLUS loans.

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Last Updated: 5/8/23