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Paul Drayton, president of Rowan College at Burlington County in New Jersey, says higher education remains far too expensive for many students who are most dependent on it for career success.

“College is more important than ever for career success, yet too expensive for far too many students. 3+1 provides all the benefits of both community colleges and four-year universities while lowering the tuition and debt burden on students and increasing our capacity to serve more students at both community colleges and universities. This is the future model of college affordability.”

Outlook 2017 is UB’s third annual special issue aimed at providing insight on the major trends expected to impact campus leaders in the year to come.

American higher education in 2016 faced increased pressure on performance. Colleges and universities were also being pushed to eliminate administrative and academic silos to help students of all ages and backgrounds succeed. Here’s a look back at what made headlines in higher ed this past year and how campuses responded.

A facilities administrator from a suburban institution of 5,000 to 10,000 students says his department faces three challenging realities: increased pressure to reduce operation costs, diminishing resources and a rising deferred maintenance program.

Keeping student tuition and fees down is the top priority for 2017 selected by campus CFOs and other finance department administrators in a UB survey—yet tuition revenue and nontuition student fees are the biggest anticipated funding categories for the coming year.

Ensuring students are prepared for college and then do well academically, emotionally, physically and financially are key goals of student success initiatives on campuses today. Top institutional officials have student success on their minds—most of them even more so than in 2016, according to a UB survey that includes responses from 66 presidents, chancellors and provosts. 

Enrollment declines will be the most pressing concern keeping presidents and other top officials up at night in 2017. Seven in 10 who responded to a UB survey named it as the area with the greatest potential for causing the institution financial or reputational harm. State budget cuts, at 44 percent, are the next biggest worry for the 66 responding presidents, provosts and chancellors. 

Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of education, billionaire businesswoman and philanthropist Elisabeth “Betsy” DeVos, is more of a household name in K12 than higher ed circles. DeVos has worked to promote school choice and voucher programs, including creation of Detroit’s charter school system. 

She sits on the board of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, whose mission is “to build an American education system that equips every child to achieve his or her God-given potential.”

Public funding levels and the various approaches to affordability—from debt-free college to private-sector loans—will continue to dominate higher ed debates in and outside campus administrative offices.

A greater level of accountability around access and outcomes looms on the horizon for higher ed administrators in 2017 and beyond. Experts across the ideological spectrum predict the federal government and the general public to demand more transparency in the data released about how graduates of specific campus programs fare in the job market. 

Student success is inherently at the center of every institution’s mission, and this round of Models of Excellence showcases eight initiatives dedicated to supporting that goal, from before a student’s first class right through—and beyond—graduation.

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