The devolution of tuition authority, or abdication of tuition-setting control from elected representatives to unelected university governing boards, is an instance of marketization in higher education. Except for New York and Florida, all states have moved closer to a market-priced ideal by "deregulating" tuition. In this article, I describe my analysis of these two negative cases and argue that preexisting higher education policies have lasting effects on the institutional logics to which policy makers and other stakeholders have access, leading to divergent outcomes. What policy makers deem appropriate policy in their local context is shaped by a history of education policy making that likely preceded their position in office. However, the structure of institutions and the founding ideas of those institutions—as preserved in planning documents and remembered by select institutional actors—perpetuate a commitment to a certain institutional logic. Specifically, Florida and New York policy makers were constrained in their decision making about tuition devolution at multiple points in time by a family of institutions logic that reinforced the importance of their state university systems' lack of formal tiers and their commitment to price similarity. The state policies governing these state systems became politically consequential because policy makers invoked the system cohesiveness mandated by such policies as a principal reason for rejecting devolution proposals. This powerful narrative appears to have precluded the ideational change toward a market university despite a move in this direction in other states.


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pp. 575-600
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