State Policy Priorities


Purpose: To provide NCAN members (and their networks/coalitions) interested in state level advocacy with a guide to develop their own policy goals and agenda.

Draft Goal: To request feedback from NCAN members about the proposed state policy solutions

Process: A committee of NCAN members, led by three co-chairs, worked together to develop this draft.

Learn more: Webinar Slides

TIMELINE UPDATE: Final Document to be Released Winter 2017 

State should provide robust, comprehensive higher education funding and financial aid that expands access to college for students and families by making it more affordable without significant debt. Further, states should review their systems so that students have every opportunity to be prepared, access higher education, progress through their studies and graduate. State governments should consider the following to achieve these policy ideals:

State Financial Aid

  1. Establish state application deadlines and processes that are sensitive to the needs of first-generation and low-income students.
  2. Ensure state financial aid programs are aligned with state economic goals to expand postsecondary and economic opportunities for all students.
  3. Provide need-based aid to students and set a goal for the percentage of aid dollars that will be need-based and do not dip below that goal.
  4. Design state financial aid programs to promote college and career readiness, access and completion for all students.
  5. Implement early awareness into all state aid programs such as marketing for state financial aid programs for students in early grades.

 Student Higher Education Funding

  1. Set a state attainment goal for the population and include both traditional and nontraditional students in the goal.
  2. Establish a funding strategy for higher education that helps achieve the state attainment goal and is aligned with workforce needs.
  3. Prioritize efforts to assist underrepresented students in overcoming barriers to access and completing postsecondary education. (e.g., public-private partnerships, student supports, bridge programs, institution incentives to increase degree attainment for adults lacking a few credits,  and student-friendly financial aid deadlines and procedures)
  4. Develop a tuition-setting policy that is affordable and predictable, including passing a state budget without undue delay and announcing tuition increases on a timeline that allows institutions to respond.
  5. Consider an incentive system for institutions that rewards student success. (i.e., completion, is backed by transparent performance data, and is crafted in a manner that does not discourage enrollment of students with the greatest challenges to achieving postsecondary success.) 


  1. All students have access to rigorous, advanced, credit-bearing coursework (dual/concurrent enrollment, AP, or IB) in high school.
  2. All state residents qualify for in-state tuition, regardless of immigration status.
  3. All students have affordable access to high-quality certificate programs that meet state workforce needs.
  4. States value multiple pathways to postsecondary success, including 2- and 4-year degrees, certificates, and apprenticeships.

Curriculum Alignment and Articulation

  1. High school graduation requirements align to college acceptance requirements.
  2. Transfer of coursework from 2- to 4-year colleges is clear and accessible in a public database.
  3. Credits from dual/concurrent enrollment courses are accepted toward degree requirements.
  4. Placement into college courses is based on high school GPA or multiple measures that include high school GPA.

Data Systems

  1. A statewide longitudinal data system links postsecondary outcomes to K-12 education.
  2. A statewide scorecard provides user-friendly tools to compare return on investment for postsecondary programs.
  3. Transfer of coursework from 2- to 4-year colleges is clear and accessible in a public database.

School Counseling

  1. College and career readiness is integrated into graduate school counselor programs.
  2. School counselors have access to relevant, ongoing professional development in college and career readiness.
  3. The school counselor ratio is no more than 1:250.
  4. School counselors spend at least 80% of their time in direct service to students. 


Questions on this new work:

Carrie Warick
Director of Policy and Advocacy
National College Access Network