Chris Jones knows that Arkansas’ public colleges and universities are an integral component of education that keeps our communities and economy strong. We have to ensure that public colleges and universities are adequately funded by the state to keep costs down for working families and improve student retention and completion rates—especially among minority students. In an ideal Arkansas, all students will be able to attain an affordable and quality higher education that prepares them for the jobs of the future, and as Governor, Chris Jones will work to deliver this ideal for all students and families.
We recognize, however, that there remain many barriers to this ideal. For one, enrollment in Arkansas colleges and universities have been declining for the past decade–with the Covid-19 pandemic only exasperating the issue. In comparison with other states in the south and the nation as a whole, Arkansas has a lower percentage of workers who have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher—further highlighting the need for investment into higher education. While this past decade has seen challenges in enrollment and completion, costs have still been rising for families. From 2020 to 2021, average tuition costs rose by 1.5 percent. Despite these obstacles, Chris Jones as Governor will take tangible steps forward to make higher education more accessible, so the entire state can reap the immense advantages of a highly trained and educated workforce.
Chris Jones will fight for legislation that will improve funding for public colleges and universities and consider changes to the productivity-funding model to lower tuition costs for families. It is important to leverage federal support and aid for higher education improvements as well as creating partnerships with the private sector to improve access to higher education as well.
Arkansas’ deficiencies in higher education achievement and accessibility hold back the potential of countless students and cost the state in potential economic activity. It will be a priority of Chris Jones to make long-term investments in making public universities and colleges more affordable and taking steps with the Arkansas Division of Higher Education to improve upon and implement their stated strategies for improving higher education by 2026.
On supporting Colleges and Universities, Chris Jones would:
Work with the legislature to increase sustainable and consistent state funding for public colleges and universities.
Work with the ADHE to implement tactics to enroll and retain more students, especially underserved and minority students.
Fight to find solutions to rising tuition so a higher education can be more affordable and accessible to all.