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Tuition Heroes

Similar to the Energy Star badge program for efficient appliances, Tuition Heroes rewards higher education institutions for tuition control.

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Who is the target audience for your idea and how does it reimagine the cost of college?

Tuition Heroes gives institutions a goal and rewards them when they achieve it. Leaders of higher education institutions are the target. It provides an incentive for institutions to keep their tuition in line with normal inflation rates. The associated "peer pressure" to be a Tuition Hero coupled with a Tuition Heroes Fund for those institutions that activate their Tuition Hero Badge will create a cycle of influence on tuition and help make higher education more accessible to students.

Specifically, we reward institutions Tuition Hero status when their tuition compound annual growth rate is 2.5% or less over a 4-year period.

Tuition Hero Badge

We give them the option to activate a Tuition Hero badge and have it appear on their listing on the Tuition Heroes website. Badge activation also unlocks an embed code, which allows the badge to appear on any website and link back to the institution's page on Tuition Heroes that provides evidence of how they achieved Tuition Hero status.

Here are two interactive infographics showing some Tuition Heroes statistics: Tuition Heroes Overview  & Tuition Heroes by State 

Tuition Heroes Funds

We will also initiate a crowdfunded Tuition Heroes Fund for each institution that has achieved Tuition Hero status and has activated their Tuition Hero Badge. The funds can be used for need-based or merit-based scholarships. The funds can also be used for campus-based capital projects that improve the students' experience and reduce the need to pass along expenses through tuition increases.

Tuition Heroes Card

Down the road, we'd also like to reward institutions that "rollback" their tuition levels to where they "should" be based on past inflation rates. We'd recommend a gradual tuition rollback based on reaching enrollment goals and giving students a tuition rebate. This rebate could be placed on a Tuition Heroes stored-value card, redeemable at the institution's book store. They'd fund the cards, and we'd manage the program.

What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

Tuition Heroes is live at In 2015, there were 1,433 Tuition Heroes. We display evidence of how they earned their Tuition Hero status and offer the opportunity to activate their Tuition Hero badge. When activated, badges are displayed on the institution's listing, along with an embed code that can be used to display the linked badge on any website. We are in the process of using Twitter and email to contact institution leaders. Badges are slowly being activated.

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

I think one of the biggest hurdles is to make the general public aware of Tuition Heroes. Getting in touch with high school teachers, counselors, parents and their college-bound children could be an expensive adventure. We're pumping out interesting content through our blog and trying to get it in front of journalists with an education beat. But, the national publicity is not coming to us as easily as imagined. So, any guidance in this respect would be especially helpful.

This idea emerged from

  • An Individual

Are you interested in the Path to Pitching track we've developed for this challenge?

  • Yes

Evaluation results

30 evaluations so far

1. Does this idea make college more accessible, especially for low income students in the U.S.?

Yes! - 43.3%

To a degree - 46.7%

Not that I can tell - 10%

2. Does this idea think beyond current cost structures of college and activate new sectors or partners?

Yes! - 60%

It's attempting to - 30%

Not that I can tell - 10%

3. How excited are you about this idea?

I'm so excited I just can't hide it! - 56.7%

I'm pretty neutral in my excitement level - 40%

I don't feel very excited about this idea. - 3.3%

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Attachments (9)

Milestone 9.pdf


Tuition Heroes Effect.pdf


Milestone 5.pdf


Milestone 3.pdf


Milestone 2.pdf


Milestone 1.pdf


Milestone 4.pdf


Milestone 6.pdf


Milestone 7.pdf



Join the conversation:

Photo of Jeannie Thornberry

This is great! 

Photo of John Matthews

Thanks Jeannie!

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