Colorado’s Higher-Ed Vouchers Are Not Living Up to Promises, Report Says

Report: “The Efficacy of Vouchers in Higher Education: The Case of Colorado”

Authors: Nicholas W. Hillman, an assistant professor of educational leadership and policy analysis at the University of Wisconsin at Madison; David A. Tandberg, an assistant professor of higher education at Florida State University; and Jacob P.K. Gross, an assistant professor of leadership, foundations, and human-resource education at the University of Louisville.

Organization: Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education

Summary: Colorado’s experiment in using vouchers to pay for higher education has fallen far short of the expectations that it would force institutions to keep costs low and improve retention of students. In particular, the vouchers have had a negative effect on the enrollment of Hispanic students at the state’s public two- and four-year colleges. African-American enrollment declined at the state’s four-year public colleges, but increased at community colleges.

Bottom Line: At a time when states are considering performance benchmarks and market-based incentives for colleges, Colorado’s experience suggests that such reforms are still largely unproven.

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