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The State Review Project

While the federal government invests substantial resources in student financial aid, states have the primary responsibility to develop policies that raise overall higher education attainment and improve equity. The importance of understanding how states may accomplish these goals has never been greater, as educational attainment is increasingly required for economic and social well-being of individuals and our society. Drawing on data collected from case studies of the relationship between public policy and higher education performance in five states (Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Texas, and Washington), researchers Laura Perna and Joni Finney’s new book The Attainment Agenda offers a framework for understanding how state public policy can effectively promote educational attainment. 

For more information on The State Review Project, please see the Institute for Research on Higher Education's State Review Project Page.


The project was sponsored by the Institute for Research on Higher Education at the University of Pennsylvania and the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.


Joni Finney, Penn GSE and Laura Perna, Penn GSE

Research Team 

Michael Armijo, Jamey Rorison, and Awilda Rodriguez

Press Coverage 

American RadioWorks, March 18, 2014: The Attainment Agenda 

Inside Higher Ed, February 28, 2014:  States and Their Higher Ed Policy Shortcomings


Finney, J., Perna, L.W., & Callan, P. (2014, February). Renewing the promise: State policies to improve higher education performance. Philadelphia, PA: Institute for Higher Education Research.

Perna, L.W., & Finney, J. (2014). The attainment agenda: State policy leadership in higher education. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.*

*30% discount is available from Johns' Hopkins University Press with a code HNAF. To receive the discount please use the code when ordering online or call 1-800-537-5487.