In recent years, dozens of free, debt-free, and reformed financial aid programs and proposals have cropped up in states across the country. State legislatures have finally started to reinvest in higher education, and federal and state-level politicians have increasingly pledged to pursue ambitious action on college affordability and the explosion in student debt.

Join us on September 26, when The Century Foundation will convene higher education experts, lawmakers, faculty, and advocates to discuss and debate the next big thing in college affordability. Participants will identify major obstacles facing low- and middle-income students, lay out bold ideas to address those challenges, and debate actionable policy design to help chart the course for lawmakers in the next Congress and beyond.

This event is co-hosted by The Century Foundation and New York University.

Event Details

September 26, 2018
8:30am – 4:00pm

NYU Washington, DC
The Abramson Family Auditorium
1307 L Street NW | Washington, DC


8:30AM – Registration

9:00 – Welcome Remarks

  • Mark Zuckerman, President, The Century Foundation

9:10AM – Session 1: Goals for the Next Big Thing in College Affordability
What is the current state of affairs in terms of access to affordable, quality higher education, and what are the most urgent challenges that we must solve?

  • Moderator: Robert Shireman, Senior Fellow, The Century Foundation
  • Tiffany Jones, PhD, Director of Higher Education Policy, The Education Trust
  • James Kvaal, President, The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS)
  • Amy Li, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Northern Colorado
  • Julie Margetta Morgan, Senior Fellow, Roosevelt Institute

10:10AM – Session 2: Framework for Federal Solutions
Should the federal government pursue a free college or debt-free college plan? Or should they build on existing need-based aid programs and improving or reforming our loan repayment system? What is feasible in the near- and medium-term? Experts will present and debate proposed frameworks for more affordable access to college.

  • Moderator: Adam Harris, Staff writer, The Atlantic
  • Colleen Campbell, Associate Director, Postsecondary Education, Center for American Progress
  • Dr. Will Doyle, Associate Professor of Higher Education, Vanderbilt University
  • Mark Huelsman, Associate Director of Policy & Research, Demos
  • Kevin James, Founder & CEO, Better Future Forward

11:05AM – Break

11:25AM – Perspectives from a Pollster
Jonathan Voss, Vice President, Lake Research

11:45AM – Session 3: The Federal-State Partnership
This session will explore the nuances and challenges of how to build a successful, state-federal partnership focused on affordability. How should federal proposals build on momentum around state affordability efforts? How would states and institutions respond to new options with new strings attached?

  • Moderator: Jen Mishory, Senior Fellow and Senior Policy Advisor, The Century Foundation
  • Indivar Dutta-Gupta, Co-Executive Director, Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality
  • Christian Haines, Senior Education Policy Counsel, Office of Representative Bobby Scott
  • Rachelle Sharpe, PhD, Deputy Executive Director, Washington Student Achievement Council and President, NASSGAPP
  • Secretary Zakiya Smith Ellis, Secretary of Higher Education, New Jersey

12:45PM – Lunch

1:30PM – Breakout Sessions
Join interactive group breakout session where participants choose one topic and hear a
deep-dive presentation on the issue.

  • A. Equitable Design for New Affordability Ideas
    How can future proposals ensure that underrepresented communities are being appropriately supported for more equitable access to higher education?
    Abramson Family Auditorium

    • Mamie Voight, Vice President of Policy Research, Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP)
  • B. Student Work
    How should affordability frameworks take into account student work?

    • Reid Setzer, Government Affairs Director, Young Invincibles
  • C. Existing Federal Formulas
    How would do existing policies like assessing cost of attendance, or calculating an Expected Family Contribution, interact with potential bigger federal investments? What needs to change?

    • Sara Goldrick-Rab, Professor of Higher Education Policy and Sociology, Temple University, Founder, Wisconsin HOPE Lab and Founder, HOPE Center for College, Community and Justice

2:15PM – Break
Participants return to The Abramson Family Auditorium on level B1

2:20PM – Wrap Up

2:30PM – Program End