Public Policy Division

2021-2024 Public Policy Agenda & 2024-2026 Public Policy Addendum

Focus Area Policy and Advocacy Community Public Policy Division
January 26, 2021

Building on NASPA’s role as a leading advocate for public policy in support of students and the student affairs profession, and reflecting the Association’s continuing effort to develop members’ professional competencies to engage effectively in public policy conversations, NASPA’s Public Policy Division presents the following agenda to guide member and staff public policy advocacy, professional development, and engagement for 2021 through 2024. Framed according to the 2019-2024 NASPA Strategic Plan, the NASPA Public Policy Agenda is designed to provide flexibility in responding to enduring and emerging policy issues.

The agenda is noticeably U.S. policy centric with a focus on federal, state, and local issues impacting American higher education, while recognizing that NASPA’s international members are confronted with important and unique policy considerations of their own. NASPA strives to acknowledge the rich diversity of its membership, and understands that each policy priority may not perfectly align with all members or member institutions at all times. Acknowledging these limitations, the agenda is grounded in a commitment to ensuring opportunity for all and a belief that higher education is a great benefit to both individuals and society. NASPA members and staff will direct efforts toward the following key public policy areas described below. 

(2024 UPDATE) The Public Policy Division (PPD) of NASPA has released an addendum to their Public Policy Agenda to bridge the gap until the new NASPA Strategic Plan is released in 2026. Based on a survey of 179 NASPA members, the addendum will prioritize topics relating to financial aid and college affordability, student mental health, basic needs, political interference in higher education, and racial justice. The survey indicated a preference for state-level policy relevance and highlighted the importance of NASPA's direct engagement with federal developments and the creation of advocacy events. The addendum aims to provide timely, concise, and actionable policy updates and resources. 

2021-24 Agenda   2024-26 Addendum

Advocacy for Student Success

  • NASPA is committed to collaboration with local, state, national, and global partners to champion and support legislation, policies, and practices that advance student learning and success.
    • Strengthen preparation in K-12 through policy integration and coordination between postsecondary and K-12 education that prioritizes student success
    • Examine state and federal student assistance programs aimed at helping students enter college and persist, including through post-graduate studies
    • Advocate for policies that support loan forgiveness, emergency student aid, and similar programs, and combat predatory lending practices
    • Support policies that promote healthy, safe campus communities and ensure holistic care for students and student wellness
    • Advance strategies that demonstrate and policies that support measurable student skill development, facilitate seamless transfer of credits, and afford diverse credentialing opportunities to meet future workforce demands

Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice

  • NASPA strives to improve post-secondary access and achievement, open pathways for equity-seeking, historically minoritized, and marginalized communities, and emphasize evidence-based, innovative, inclusive, and socially just higher education policy and practices.
    • Increase awareness of domestic and global policies and practices that promote inclusive excellence in higher education and eliminate institutional barriers for students and employees representing various backgrounds, identities, and lived experiences
    • Dismantle systemic structures that perpetuate white supremacy and that replicate unjust institutional inequity by advocating for inclusive hiring and employment practices and elevating the voices of at-will, non-tenured employees
    • Advocate for public policies that equip communities and institutions with structures (e.g., public benefits and transportation, basic needs security) that facilitate access to higher education, particularly for historically minoritized populations

Research & Scholarship

  • NASPA supports public policy focused research, analysis, and scholarship that informs evidence-based, emergent, and equitable practice. This could include strengthening strategic partnerships, promoting scholar-practitioner opportunities, and leveraging exemplary policy-to-practice research, analysis, and scholarship in support of Student Affairs faculty and practitioners. 
    • Collaborate with academic organizations and faculty in graduate education to promote curriculum that prepares student affairs professionals to be successful in an increasingly complex policy landscape
    • Encourage research that will inform policy regarding diverse institutions (e.g., HBCUs, SCUs, CCs, Tribal Colleges) and the diverse student bodies they enroll
    • Cultivate and promote policy-centered scholarship by student affairs practitioners generally and about the profession's contribution toward implementing state and federal higher education policy
    • Solicit comprehensive evaluation of policy formation and implementation to improve future policy development
    • Investigate student affairs practitioners’ knowledge, skills, and dispositions regarding higher education policy issues

Professional Development and Engagement

  • NASPA will emphasize exceptional education and volunteer engagement that prepares members to lead on current and future public policy issues in higher education, including professional development and networking opportunities relevant for all career levels.
    • Enhance student affairs professionals’ ability to understand, respond to, and navigate expressive activity successfully at both public and private institutions with appropriate consideration to institutional policy and state and federal law
    • Promote deliberative dialogue as a framework for student affairs professionals to engage students and colleagues around difficult, polarizing topics
    • Develop skill in policy writing, approval, and implementation
    • Provide members with resources and training on public policy advocacy
    • Advocate for workplace policies that empower student affairs professionals related to parental leave, childcare, and flexible work schedules