We need policymakers and institutions to tackle the issue of college affordability by setting clear parameters on what institutions can charge students and for what. We need to stop worrying so much about where students went to school and focus much more on what they know and can do with their degrees. We need to be explicit about better serving the ever-growing number of low-income, first-generation, minority and adult students across America - because they will make up the bulk of our future workforce.
Federal policymakers also will need to take some lessons from what is happening in the states. More and more are adopting performance-based funding models that reward institutions not for the number of students they enroll, but for how many of their students succeed - particularly those in underserved populations. These funding models are helping focus institutions on the need to control costs while still delivering high-quality degrees.
More than at any time in our history, the issue of talent has become the dominant element of the nation's public policy dialogue. Whoever serves as president over the next four years will need to help boost that talent by making increased educational attainment a top national priority.
Jamie Merisotis is president and CEO of the Lumina Foundation.