IR in the Know

IR in the Know keeps you up to date on current and emerging issues related to higher education data collection, analyses, and reporting with a brief summary of topics and links to more detailed information. IR in the Know is presented in three categories: (1) Reports and Tools offers summaries of resources and research useful to IR professionals; (2) Emerging Trends presents information on developing ideas and discussions from the field; and (3) Policy Watch alerts readers to national policy news and topics that may warrant attention. We welcome your feedback and suggestions. If you discover a resource or article you think might be useful to other IR professionals, please send an email to irintheknow@airweb.org.  

Published October 14, 2014

Reports and Tools 

Updates to College Results Online (Teri Lyn Hinds)

Following the summer release of its Tough Love report, the Ed Trust has updated its online College Results Online tool to include its “Bottom 5 Percent Indicators.” The tool now displays two indicators showing when a given institution is in the bottom 5 percent of institutions based on graduation rates or enrollment of Pell-eligible students. Data included in College Results Online is from IPEDS and other Department of Education databases, Barron’s Profile of American Colleges, the College Board, Peterson’s databases, and the National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs. 

The Condition of College and Career Readiness 2014 (Teri Lyn Hinds)

The ACT results of more than 1.8 million students, or about 57 percent of the 2014 graduating class, are studied in this report. It finds that 26 percent of all ACT–tested high school graduates met all four of the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks in 2014. These benchmarks are designed to represent the level of achievement necessary for students to have a 50-percent chance of obtaining a B or higher (or a 75-percent chance of obtaining a C or higher) in a college-level course in English composition, college algebra, social studies, and biology. In 2013, the number of students who met all four ACT College Readiness Benchmarks was 25 percent. 

HIS Center for Policy & Practice (HIS-CP2) (Teri Lyn Hinds)

This new online resource center from Excelencia in Education provides information on Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) and their impact on Latino student success. The site presents information on the history of HSIs, presents data and infographics that allow users to better understand these institutions. It also provides tools geared toward improving institutional policies. 

Student Loan Update: A First Look at the 2013 Survey of Consumer Finances (Teri Lyn Hinds)

An update to a report released earlier this year, Student Loan Update: A First Look at the 2013 Survey of Consumer Finances, adds the newly released Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) 2013 data to confirm that the trends reported earlier (using data through 2010) continue. While the data show large increases in average debt levels over time, roughly one-quarter of the increase is due to pursuit of advanced graduate degrees. Additionally, average lifetime incomes of college-educated workers have kept pace with increased debt loads, and the monthly payment burden faced by borrowers remained the same or even lessened between 1992 and 2013. The 2013 data showed that debt levels have continued to increase, but at a slower rate. It also shows that even though average incomes fell slightly, the decline was small enough not to change the share of monthly income required for loan payments. 

Moving the Goalposts: How Demand for a Bachelor’s Degree is Reshaping the Workforce (Teri Lyn Hinds)

A Burning Glass Technologies analysis of shifting workforce credential requirements finds a broad range of occupations for which employers are seeking a bachelor’s degree for jobs that formerly required less education. This is true even when the actual skills required haven’t changed or when this makes the position harder to fill. This phenomenon of “upcredentialing,” in which employers seek college graduates for positions that used to require a high-school diploma or other sub-baccalaureate training, has been much discussed but rarely quantified. The analysis finds evidence of changes in the American workforce, with employers increasingly seeking baccalaureate talent for what have historically been sub-baccalaureate jobs. Labor analysts have generally pointed to two possible explanations for this degree inflation: either jobs are becoming more complex and require new skills (known as “upskilling”), or employers have become more selective and favor more educated workers. The analysis suggests both possibilities are at work, depending on the specific occupation. 

Emerging Trends 

The 2014 Gallup-Purdue Index Report (Zhao Yang)

This report presents the inaugural Gallup-Purdue Index, which is created from a joint-research project by Purdue University and Lumina Foundation to study the relationship between the college experience and college graduates' lives. It is based on a comprehensive, nationally representative study of 30,000 U.S. college graduates during February to March 2014. The study finds that the type and characteristics of the institutions have minimal impact on the workplace engagement and current well-being of these graduates. Instead, the study demonstrates that support and experiences in college, such as faculty interaction and participation in activities such as internships, have more of a relationship to long-term outcomes for these college graduates. The report suggests that what students are doing in college and how they experiencing it could be more important. The study claims that those elements – more than any others – have a profound relationship to a person’s life and career. 

Signals and Shifts in the Postsecondary Landscape (Teri Lyn Hinds)

Fourteen chief executive officers from a diverse group of colleges and universities participated in the Presidential Innovation Lab (PIL), which provided an opportunity for higher-education leaders to engage in proactive thinking about the evolving dynamics of higher education and guide a national dialogue that will help colleges and universities serve students—and close persistent student attainment gaps—in the years ahead. This paper, Signals and Shifts in the Postsecondary Landscape, provides a general overview of the broad context discussions and activities that occurred within the PIL, including a summary of a design thinking exercise and some of the graphic recordings from the sessions. The paper begins with a summary of signals of the future and the key shifts unfolding in the next 10 years that may impact higher education, and concludes with some broad issues that should be considered by the greater education ecosystem.

Policy Watch

Ranking and Rewarding Access: An Alternative College Scorecard (Zhao Yang)

This study, published from University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education’s Center for Minority Serving Institutions, criticizes the White House’s online College Scorecard by pointing out that HBCUs and other minority serving institutions with large numbers of underrepresented, first-generation, and/or low-income students will likely be disadvantaged. In particular, the report posits that the White House Plan, which calls for easily comparable metrics such as tuition and fees, graduation rates, loan default rates, and median borrowing rates, oversimplifies the measures and punishes institutions that serve students who often need the most support. The study proposes an alternative college rating system that it claims would align metrics with student priorities, create customizable features, and reward institutions that graduate underrepresented students.

Investigation of IPEDS Distance Education Data: System Not Ready for Modern Trends (Teri Lyn Hinds

Based on an investigation of the recently released distance education data for IPEDS, the primary national education database maintained by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET) found significant confusion over basic definitions of terms, manual gathering of data outside of the computer systems designed to collect data, and, due to confusion over which students to include in IPEDS data, the systematic non-reporting of large numbers of degree-seeking students. The report postulates that one of the reasons for the confusion, as well as the significance of this change, is that continuing-education units are taking up a new role of offering courses not funded by the state (hence self-support), and are therefore not subject to the same oversight and restrictions as state-funded equivalents. The full report details the analysis and findings, though ultimately recognizes that there are many unknowns.

Published September 10, 2014

Reports and Tools

Staying in College Longer Than Four Years Costs More Than You Might Think (Teri Lyn Hinds)

This second in a series of blog posts by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Liberty Street Economics examines the costs of taking longer than four years to graduate with a baccalaureate degree. Taking tuition and fees (not room and board, as those would need to be purchased regardless of enrollment in college) as well as the opportunity cost of forgone earnings, the post projects the net present value lost by an additional year or two in college over the course of a lifetime of expected earnings.

A Hidden Cause of Rising Tuition – Tuition Discounting in Public Colleges and Universities (Zhao Yang)

This report from the Education Commission of the State examines tuition discount factors and concludes they play a role in driving up college costs. The research indicates that higher tuition discounting, despite increasing the net revenue to colleges, leads to higher costs for students, which in turn may contribute to higher student loan debts, especially for those who do not receive discounts. The report finds that discounting practices have become increasing prevalent among public institutions. For example, the average discount rate for four-year public research institutions jumped from 26% in 2002-03 to 33% in 2011-12. In some states, policymakers have attempted to implement strict tuition caps to restrict tuition increases and perhaps slow the use of discounts.

Results from WICHE Multistate Longitudinal Data Exchange Pilot Project (Bob Handley)

The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) released two reports from a pilot project that shared data between four states to determine whether and how states could share individual-level, longitudinal education and workforce data among them, while protecting individual confidentiality and data security. The Multistate Longitudinal Data Exchange (MLDE) project was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and included Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. With the completion of the pilot project and a second round of funding from the Gates Foundation, WICHE will focus on expanding the MLDE by bringing in additional states.

The report Beyond Borders: Understanding the Development and Mobility of Human Capital in an Age of Data-Driven Accountability describes the process and lessons of making cross-state data sharing politically and logistically possible. In addition to the lessons, the report emphasizes the value of the additional information about student outcomes made possible by the MLDE, including the ability to provide state leaders more comprehensive information about swirl in the education and labor sectors and the workforce outcomes of graduates from their state.

The report A Glimpse Beyond State Lines: Student Outcomes provides findings from a series of analyses of over 190,000 students from the four states participating in the pilot exchange. Sharing data between the states made it possible to determine where college students ended up after graduation for 7% more college graduates than possible from a state’s individual data alone. Other findings indicated that over 60% of recent college graduates remained in the state where they graduated for at least the year after graduation.

Differential Impacts of College Ratings: The Case of Education Deserts (Christine Keller)

A new study by Nicholas W. Hillman, an assistant professor of higher education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, examines national enrollment patterns and educational options for place-bound students, many of whom work full-time, have dependents, and commute to campus. Using data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the study examines enrollment patterns at 7,756 postsecondary institutions nationwide enrolling 25.2 million students. Roughly 10% of the U.S. population lives in communities with few or no public alternatives for college. Further, the analysis finds that communities with increasing Hispanic populations are most likely to lack educational options. Communities with low educational attainment rates are more likely to have community colleges rather than four-year institutions.

Performance Funding Policies in Higher Education Have Had Little Effect on Student Outcomes (Zhao Yang)

A study published in The Annals of the American Academic of Political and Social Science reviews the impact of state-level performance funding policies on student outcomes in public institutions using data from over 500 four-year institutions in the United States from 1993-2010. The results indicate that performance funding policies do not contribute to better student outcomes, which are defined as six-year graduation rates, retention rates, and bachelor degree production. In fact, these policies may contribute to lower performance over the long run. However, newer performance funding policies that focus on intermediate indicators of campus performance (throughout rather than outcomes) and are linked to institutional base funding may provide some long-term improvements in student outcomes, particularly degree production. A copy of the complete paper can be purchased from Sage.

Transferability of Postsecondary Credit Following Student Transfer or Coenrollment (Teri Lyn Hinds)

A new report released by the Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics uses transcript data from the Postsecondary Education Transcript Study of 2009 (PETS:09), a component of the 2004/09 Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study (BPS:04/09), to examine how often, and under what conditions, postsecondary institutions accept the transfer of credits earned by students at other institutions. The analysis found that about one-third (35%) of first-time beginning undergraduate students transferred or coenrolled at least once during the six-year period covered by the study. Thirty-nine percent of students who transferred colleges at least once lost all of their earned credits in the process (on average, 27 credits). Another 28% of students lost some credits along the way during the transfer process - about 13 of their credits were lost.

Emerging Trends

Redefining Full-time in College: Evidence on 15-credit Strategies (Teri Lyn Hinds)

Recent action by many institutions to encourage students to enroll in 15 credits per semester in order to increase on-time graduation is widely believed to be effective, though there has been little research to document outcomes. Redefining Full-time in College examines the literature and evaluation outcomes from several 15-credit policies and finds positive impact on completion for less academically prepared students as well as positive outcomes for student credit completion, GPA, and persistence. The report also identifies several key challenges for institutions implementing 15-credit policies and supports, as well as some possible unintended consequences that lead to a caution that institutions engage in careful planning and consideration before deciding on and adopting a 15-credit approach.

Ranking Institutions by Economic Diversity (Christine Keller)

In September, the New York Times will reveal a college ranking system for students that measures institutions’ ability to serve low-income students, according to an August 29 article in the Chronicle of Higher Education. David Leonhardt, editor of the New York Times blog The Upshot, noted that the economic diversity rankings are not intended to compete with comprehensive ranking systems. A similar ranking, the College Guide from the Washington Monthly, focuses on social mobility, but the intended audience is more policy makers than students.

Aspiring Adults Adrift: Tentative Transitions of College Graduates (Christine Keller)

A new book by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, Aspiring Adults Adrift: Tentative Transitions of College Graduates, follows up with students interviewed in their 2011 book, Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses. The authors followed more than 1,600 students from 25 four-year institutions and interviewed 80 of those students about their civic engagement, living situations, and employment. The study found that many students struggle after graduation, even though most were academically successful in college. The authors believe that students’ issues arise from a lack of academic rigor at institutions. For additional discussion of the book and its findings see the Chronicle of Higher Education article and the Inside Higher Ed article from September 2.

Policy Watch

A Gamble with Consequences: State Lottery-Funded Scholarship Programs as a Strategy for Boosting College Affordability (Teri Lyn Hinds)

Several states utilize lottery-funded scholarship programs with a chief objective to improve college affordability. With strong bipartisan legislative support, these programs have grown in popularity and are touted as an ideal means for earmarking revenues to advance state higher-education priorities. This policy brief discusses the evolution of state lottery-funded scholarship programs and provides a critical look at both the benefits and drawbacks in the programs' design and outcomes. The paper posits that, when examining these programs through the frameworks of finance, college access, and affordability, and issues of politics and philosophy, many unintended and detrimental consequences may arise. The paper includes observations on the recently announced Tennessee Promise scholarship program, and concludes with a set of recommendations for enhancing state lottery-funded scholarship programs aimed at more equitably enhancing college affordability.

Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness (IES) (Christine Keller)

The U.S. Department of Education’s Institute for Education Studies (IES) is launching a new Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness led by the Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College and the social policy research firm MDRC that will work to strengthen the research, evaluation, and support of college-readiness efforts across the U.S. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published August 12, 2014

Reports and Tools

Is a Student Loan Crisis on the Horizon? (Teri Lyn Hinds)

In Is a Student Loan Crisis on the Horizon?, analysis of more than two decades of data on the financial well-being of American households suggests that the reality of student loans may not be as dire as many commentators fear. The report’s major findings include that roughly one-quarter of the increase in student debt since 1989 can be directly attributed to Americans obtaining advanced degrees, that increases in the average lifetime incomes of college-educated Americans have more than kept pace with increases in debt loads, and that the monthly payment burden faced by student loan borrowers has stayed about the same, or even lessened, over the past two decades. These data indicate that typical borrowers are no worse off now than they were a generation ago, and also suggest that the borrowers struggling with high debt loads frequently featured in media coverage may not be part of a new or growing phenomenon.

Do the Benefits of College Still Outweigh the Costs? (Christine Keller)

In recent years, students have been paying more to attend college and earning less upon graduation—trends that have led many observers to question whether a college education remains a good investment. However, an analysis of the economic returns to college since the 1970s by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York demonstrates that the benefits of both a bachelor’s degree and an associate’s degree still tend to outweigh the costs, with both degrees earning a return of about 15 percent over the past decade. The return has remained high in spite of rising tuition and falling earnings because the wages of those without a college degree have also been falling, keeping the college wage premium near an all-time high while reducing the opportunity cost of going to school.

Protecting Colleges and Students: Community College Strategies to Prevent Default (Teri Lyn Hinds)

Just 17 percent of community college students borrow federal loans, but with college costs rising faster than grant aid or family incomes, more students are turning to federal loans to help fill the gap. Driven in part by a sluggish economy in communities across the country, the share of borrowers who default on their federal loans has also been rising. A study of nine community colleges across the country explores practices to reduce student loan default and delinquency. In Protecting Colleges and Students: Community College Strategies to Prevent Default, the Association of Community College Trustees and TICAS found that improving completion is critical, and there is variation in the characteristics of students who default. Among other recommendations, the report suggests that a Student Default Risk Index, which multiplies the cohort default rate (CDR) by the portion of students who borrow student loans, would more accurately convey students’ risk of default.

Some College, No Degree: A National View of Students with Some College Enrollment, but No Completion (Christine Keller)

Signature Report 7 from the National Student Clearinghouse examines the “some college, no degree” phenomenon to better understand the value of some college in its own right and as well as the contribution the “some college, no degree” population can make to achieving college completion goals. Over the past 20 years, more than 31 million students have enrolled in college and left without receiving a degree or certificate. The report examines the enrollment pathways of students who did not earn an award including institutional sector, number of institutions attended, length of time between first and last enrollment, number of stopouts, and years since last enrollment.

Think Again: Is Rampant College Spending Behind Skyrocketing Tuition Bills? Or Not? (Christine Keller)

A report from the American Institutes for Research based on Delta Cost Project data examines the reasons behind increasing tuition costs at colleges and universities. Annual tuition increases between 4% and 6% are due to the fact that students are taking on a larger share of the costs of higher education, not that all colleges are spending more on frills. According to the Delta Cost Project, state spending per student at public research universities dropped from $11,000 in 2001 to less than $8,000 in 2011. Spending increases averaged just 0.5% a year after inflation at public institutions and 1-2% a year after inflation at private institutions.

NCES Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) Methodology Report (Christine Keller)

This National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) report describes the methodology used to develop the 2013-14 Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). NCES collected data from 7,397 colleges and universities, of which 42.2% are four-year institutions, 30.1% are two-years, and 27.6% are less than two-years. The report includes descriptions of measures collected through the IPEDS survey, built-in edit checks in the survey, and data imputation processes.

Emerging Trends

Common Core Goes to College (Teri Lyn Hinds)

In the early 2000s, a group of key education leaders created the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Initiative to establish common secondary education standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics, presently adopted by 43 states and the District of Columbia. The CCSS have been explicitly designed to prepare students to succeed in higher education; however, there has been little intentional alignment between K12 and higher education to build bridges between the systems. Common Core Goes to College presents the history of the CCSS and their accompanying assessments, and reviews the many areas where higher education and K12 are out of alignment within each state. The report concludes with a series of recommendations for improving the pathway to higher education by alignment to the CCSS.

Department of Education Experimental Sites Announced (Christine Keller)

The U.S. Department of Education announced the latest round of experimental sites where federal financial aid will be awarded in new ways, according to a July 23 article in the Chronicle of Higher Education. These colleges and universities will be funded based on credits earned through competency-based education, prior learning assessment, or a blend of direct assessment and traditional credit-hour work. Only a few such programs qualify for federal financial aid funds, and the Department approves them on a case-by-case basis.

New College Ranking Designed to Show Economic Value Added With a Degree (Christine Keller)

Educate to Career (ETC), a California-based non-profit organization, developed a new postsecondary ranking system that measures students’ labor market outcomes. ETC ranks roughly 1,200 public and private four-year institutions based on students ACT or SAT scores, socioeconomic backgrounds, institutions’ total cost of attendance, and students’ occupation and salaries.

Money’s Best Colleges: A New College Ranking System (Christine Keller)

Money Magazine’s new college ranking system measures quality, affordability, and outcomes at 665 colleges and universities nationwide. Money’s Best Colleges list includes only institutions with above-average six-year graduation rates in the public or private sector and does not include institutions with a speculative bond rating from Moody’s. The rankings include value-added measures of graduation rates, student loan default risk, and earnings, which are calculated as the difference between the expected and actual measures according to the academic and economic profile of each institution’s student body.

Policy Watch

The “Pay It Forward” College Financing Concept: A Pathway to the Privatization of Public Higher Ed (Teri Lyn Hinds)

Lawmakers in more than 20 states have introduced measures to direct state agencies to launch Pay It Forward (PIF) feasibility studies or initiate pilot programs. As conceived, PIF would eliminate up-front tuition and fee payments at public colleges and universities in exchange for students agreeing to pay a pre-determined, fixed portion of their annual earnings for an extended period of time following graduation. This policy brief from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities summarizes the history of PIF-like approaches to financing a college education, and explores common elements of PIF legislation recently introduced in state legislatures. It discusses potential long-term ramifications of the PIF concept for students, public colleges and states. Finally, it offers questions for state officials to consider when exploring PIF as a legitimate solution to maintaining equitable and sustainable affordability at U.S. public colleges and universities.

Expanding Opportunity in America: A Discussion Draft from the House Budget Committee (Teri Lyn Hinds)

Expanding Opportunity in America: A Discussion Draft from the House Budget Committee puts forth a number of ideas to make federal aid both more accountable and more effective, including suggestions for expanding access to education. The discussion draft includes substantial changes to federal financial aid, such as capping PLUS loans and increasing Pell grant amounts using SEOG funds. The draft also calls for the creation of a Clearinghouse for Program and Survey Data, which would include de-identified individual-level data on participants in public programs and data from educational datasets such as the National Student Clearinghouse.

Published July 16, 2014

Reports and Tools 

Is a Student Loan Crisis on the Horizon (Bob Handley)

In “Is a Student Loan Crisis on the Horizon?” the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution analyzed 20 years of student loan data and concluded that fears about a student loan crisis may be exaggerated. Although debt levels have increased over the past 20 years, Brookings’ data show that lifetime income of debt holders increased enough to outpace the increase in debt, suggesting that college remains a wise long-term financial investment. In the short term, longer repayment periods and lower interest rates have kept the ratio of monthly payment to monthly income the same in 2010 as it was in 1992, showing that monthly payment burdens have not increased. Because a higher debt load means higher risk, however, Brookings advises that social safety nets like income-based repayment plans and payment deferrals need simplification and improvement for those debt holders who are unemployed or underemployed. 

Measuring the Economic Success of College Graduates: Lessons from the Field (Zhao Yang)

The report Measuring the Economic Success of College Graduates: Lessons from the Field describes valuable lessons on how to convert complex education and wage data into useful information as “earnings after completing a degree” becomes increasing popular as a measure of institutional accountability and value. In 2013, about two dozen states linked student-level data with in-state employment data, to collect earning data about their college and university graduates. The report’s examples from the field provide potential models for state agencies or institutions that may start similar projects.  

Performance Funding at MSIs: Considerations and Possible Measure for Public Minority-Serving Institutions (Teri Lyn Hinds)

To date, over 30 states have adopted or are transitioning to performance funding models to provide state support to public colleges and universities. Performance Funding at MSIs: Considerations and Possible Measures for Public Minority-Serving Institutions addresses the ways in which state-level decisions on funding policies can differentially impact MSIs and offers five key considerations for the development of performance funding policies for MSIs. Among the considerations are the inclusion of MSI leaders and experts in policy development; considering the utility of commonly used metrics, specifically those that are inappropriate to track more mobile student populations; considering input factors and data capacity before implementing policy; and attending to the potential for using performance funding to address racial and ethnic equity concerns. 

Education Commission of the States (ECS) 

A Cure for Remedial Reporting Chaos: Why the US Needs a Standard Method for Measuring Preparedness for the First Year of College (Teri Lyn Hinds)

The Education Commission of the States released A Cure for Remedial Reporting Chaos: Why the US Needs a Standard Method for Measuring Preparedness for the First Year of College which reviews the state-level practices that identify, track, and regularly report the numbers and progress of students identified as needing remedial instruction. The Commission found little consistency across states, and provides two recommendations for improving consistency: 1) develop and implement cross-state standards for measuring and reporting placement into and progression through remedial instruction; and 2) create dynamic, comprehensive measurement methodology focused on progress and success rather than accountability, and comparative rankings of institutions.  

A Common Framework for Remedial Reporting: Response to Remedial Reporting Task Force Recommendations (Teri Lyn Hinds)

A smaller technical subcommittee also released A Common Framework for Remedial Reporting, which describes a common framework that would meet the recommendations identified in the A Cure for Remedial Reporting Chaos report. The framework identifies seven types of data elements and a set of student demographic variables that would be necessary to collect at the student-level, including following students across institutions in the case of transfer, in order to support the reporting needs identified.  

Dual Enrollment: A Strategy to Improve College-Going and College Completion Among Rural Students (Zhao Yang)

A third report from the Education Commission of the States, Dual Enrollment: A Strategy to Improve College-Going and College Completion Among Rural Students, summarizes research on how states might improve high school graduation rates and help students enter colleges and complete degrees in rural communities. Data are provided that illustrate the difference in outcomes by low/high-income, rural/urban areas, and college-going rates. The advantages and disadvantages of online course delivery to rural areas are discussed as well. Several state programs implemented in rural areas, including administration, outcomes, and cost, are reviewed in detail.  

National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) 

Baccalaureate and Beyond: A First Look at the Employment Experiences and Lives of College Graduates, 4 Years On (Christine Keller)

This First Look report presents findings from the 2008/12 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study (B&B:08/12), a nationally representative longitudinal sample survey of students who completed the requirements for a bachelor’s degree during the 2007–08 academic year. The study addresses questions related to bachelor's degree recipients' education and employment experiences and includes two follow-ups. This report covers the second follow-up, conducted in 2012, which examines bachelor's degree recipients' labor market experiences and enrollment in additional postsecondary degree programs through the fourth year after graduation. Results show that 83 percent of graduates who were not enrolled were employed. Of these, about 85 percent worked in one full-time job, 8 percent worked in one part-time job, and 8 percent had multiple jobs. 

Policy Watch (Teri Lyn Hinds)

Higher Education Act (HEA) Reauthorization

Both the House and Senate have begun to release bills related to the upcoming reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. Summaries of recent activities appear below.

HELP Chairman Tom Harkin Unveils the Higher Education Affordability Act

Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Tom Harkin proposed the Higher Education Affordability Act, focusing on four main goals: increasing college affordability, helping struggling borrowers, strengthening accountability, and improving transparency. In addition to the ideas contained in this discussion draft, Chairman Harkin believes other policies need to be addressed as part of any reauthorization of HEA, including the development of a student unit record system, reforming accreditation, and additional simplification measures. Comments on the proposal are open to the public and should be sent to HEAA2014@help.senate.gov no later than August 29, 2014, at 5:00 p.m. EDT.

Republican Priorities for Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act

House Republicans released a white paper detailing their priorities for the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. Based on the findings from 14 hearings held by the Committee on Education and the Workforce in 2013, the committee’s priorities will focus on improving access to consumer information; simplifying and improving student financial aid; promoting innovation, access, and completion; and ensuring strong accountability and a limited federal role. The white paper provides additional details about the specific areas of focus for each priority.

Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act

The House Education & the Workforce Committee, via the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, introduced the Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act to offer students and families improved information for a more complete picture of student populations, to streamline existing transparency efforts at the federal level, and to require better coordination between federal agencies. Notably, the act would create a College Dashboard that would replace the College Navigator site and contain “only key information students need when deciding which school to attend,” including completion rates for additional student sub-populations, net price data by family income ranges, and information on student federal loan indebtedness for completers.

Sexual Violence on Campus: How Too Many Institutions of Higher Education are Failing to Protect Students

Administered at the request of Chairman Claire McCaskill, the report Sexual Violence on Campus summarizes findings from a survey and selected interviews conducted by the Senator’s staff related to how colleges and universities report, investigate, and adjudicate sexual violence. The survey results suggest that many institutions may not adhering to best practices in how they handle sexual violence among students, such as conducting annual climate surveys or providing sexual assault response training to faculty and staff. The report is based on a survey of 440 four-year institutions of higher education, which includes a national sample and separate samples of the nation’s largest public and private institutions. Results of the survey disaggregated by school type are provided in an appendix.

Recap: June Congressional Hearing on Educational Data and Privacy

The House Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, chaired by Representative Todd Rokita (R-IN), and Cybersecurity, Infrastructure, and Security Technologies (chaired by Representative Patrick Meehan (R-PA) subcommittees held a joint hearing titled “How Data Mining Threatens Student Privacy,” on June 25 to assess the role of data in education and to reevaluate the federal government’s role in ensuring students’ privacy. Discussions included exploration of existing legislation such as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) as well as the need to empower teachers and school administrators to use data to improve and personalize student learning. A summary of the hearing is available from the Data Quality Campaign.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published June 16, 2014 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reports and Tools 

Campus-Based Practices for Promoting Student Success: Financial Aid (Teri Lyn Hinds) 

In the research brief Campus-Based Practices for Promoting Student Success: Financial Aid, the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC) explores the differential effects of institutional grant aid and work-study programs on students, paying particular attention to how low-income students may be effected by both. The brief concludes with a set of recommended practices drawn from a review of the research, including front-loading grant aid during the first two years of college, monitoring work-study funds and jobs for both appropriate wage and relevance for student experiences, and providing aid during intersession periods. 

Students on the Move (Christine Keller) 

The policy brief, Students on the Move, from the Education Commission of the States, summarizes transfer and articulation policies in the 50 states. The brief indicates that states are transitioning from institutional or system-level policies to statewide transfer agreements. The analysis also shows that 15 states have common course numbering systems, 16 states have credit by assessment, 37 states have guaranteed transfer of associate degrees, and 35 states have a transferable lower-division core. The report includes profiles on innovative approaches to transfer in Florida, Louisiana, and West Virginia. 

Spring Current Term Enrollment Estimates (Zhao Yang)

According to the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) recent report, Spring Current Term Enrollment Estimates, overall postsecondary enrollment decreased in Spring 2014 by 0.8% from Spring 2013. The largest decreases were in the four-year, for-profit institutions (-4.9%) and in the two-year public institutions (-2.7%).  Enrollment in four-year public institutions increased by 0.7% and in four-year private nonprofit institutions by 2.0%. Fall-to-spring percent changes in enrollments by institutional sector are also provided.   

Great Jobs Great Lives (Melodie Christal)

Gallup and Purdue University have created an index that examines the long-term success of college graduates. Great Jobs Great Lives presents results from the inaugural administration of the Gallup-Purdue Index, based on a study of over 30,000 graduates. The report addresses workforce engagement, five elements of well-being (purpose, financial, social, community, and physical), and alumni attachment.  The study found there is no difference in workplace engagement or a college graduate's well-being based on the type of institution they attended (e.g., public, private, top ranked, highly selective). Students who were closely engaged with faculty or participated in an internship were more likely to be engaged at work and have high levels of well-being. Graduates who are emotionally attached to their college are two times more likely to thrive in all five elements of well-being and two times more likely to be engaged with their jobs.

Workforce Results Matter: The Critical Role of Employment Outcome Data in Improving Transparency of Postsecondary Education and Training (Teri Lyn Hinds) 

The Center for Postsecondary and Economic Success report, Workforce Results Matter: The Critical Role of Employment Outcome Data in Improving Transparency of Postsecondary Education and Training, focuses on the need for better information about post-graduation outcomes of postsecondary education and training, with a particular focus on workforce results, which are frequently cited as most desired by students and their families during their college search process. The report includes some suggested metrics and data sources, as well as a discussion of the challenges to providing workforce outcomes. Example solutions at the state level from New Jersey and California and from College Measures, which has partnered with seven states to calculate and publish average earnings, are discussed as models. 

Is It Still Worth Going to College (Teri Lyn Hinds) 

In Is It Still Worth Going to College, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco demonstrates that for most Americans the path to higher future earnings involves earning a four-year degree. Even as costs have increased in recent years, the analysis shows the average graduate (paying annual tuition of about $20,000) can recover the cost of attending in fewer than 20 years and further accumulate an additional $800,000 in earnings by retirement age over high school graduates. 

From State to Student: How State Disinvestment Has Shifted Higher Education Costs to Students and Families (Teri Lyn Hinds) 

Though specific to California, From State to Student: How State Disinvestment Has Shifted HIgher Education Costs to Students and Families describes an increasingly common story for all states. The analysis finds that cuts in state general fund support have led to significantly increased tuition and fees in recent decades at California’s public four-year higher education institutions, threatening the promise of affordable, quality higher education that is accessible to all state residents.  The report demonstrates how these trends have fundamentally altered how higher education costs are shared between the state and students and their families. The implications of this cost-shift for the state of California is a dampening of its commitment to higher education and potentially puts the state’s economic future at risk. For students, the cost-shift means graduating with increasing amounts of student loan debt or forgoing higher education altogether. At a time when a well-educated workforce is critical to future prosperity, this report provides evidence of the impact of state cuts to higher education relative to increasing demand for opportunity and the need for economic growth.

States Are Still Funding Higher Education Below Pre-Recession Levels (Teri Lyn Hinds) 

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 42 states have begun to restore cuts made to higher education since the recession, eight states are still cutting, and higher education per-pupil funding in almost all states remains well below pre-recession levels when controlled for inflation. States Are Still Funding Higher Education Below Pre-Recession Levels includes many charts showing state-by-state comparisons of higher education funding demonstrating the magnitude of cuts and resultant changes in tuition rates. The report further documents the impact of shifting college costs to family in student debt burden and college-going rates by income quartile. It closes with an admonition for state policymakers to carefully consider their tax and budget choices in the coming years. 

National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) 

Enrollment in Distance Education Courses, by State: Fall 2012 (Melodie Christal) 

Web Tables-Enrollment in Distance Education Courses by State: Fall 2012 (NCES 2014-023) provides numbers and percentages of students who were enrolled exclusively in distance education courses, enrolled in some distance education courses, and not enrolled in any distance education courses by state and by institution type. Data for this report were collected through the IPEDS Institutional Characteristics and Fall Enrollment components.  

The Condition of Education 2014 (Christine Keller) 

The Condition of Education 2014 (NCES 2014–083) annual report contains updates on student backgrounds and outcomes across the educational system. The 2014 report indicates that roughly 90% of young adults ages 25 to 29 had a high-school degree or equivalent in 2013, while 34% of young adults had a bachelor’s degree. The six-year graduation rate of full-time, first-year students at the same four-year institution was 56% for men and 61% for women in 2012. Notably, the vast majority of undergraduates at public and private four-year institutions (88% and 86% respectively) were less than 25 years old, compared to only 29% of students at private for-profit four-year institutions. 

Emerging Trends 

Marry Your Like: Assortative Mating and Income Inequality (Zhao Yang)

Assortative mating is the process by which people of similar backgrounds, such as educational attainment or financial means, select a partner to marry. Using Census Bureau data from 1960 through 2005, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) found that more formally educated people are increasingly likely to marry those with similar educational attainment and those with less formal education are also increasingly likely to marry those with lower education levels. Since household income is strongly correlated with education, the tendency for increased stratification has contributed to greater inequality over the study period. The summary report, Marry Your Like: Assortative Mating and Income Inequality is available at no charge. The full report is available for $5 from NBER.  

Policy Watch 

Not Alone (Teri Lyn Hinds) 

Not Alone, the report from President Obama's Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault, makes four recommendations to help colleges and universities protect students from sexual violence.  The Task Force will be providing campuses with a toolkit to conduct a survey and are recommending that institutions conduct surveys during 2014-15. The Justice Department is partnering with Rutgers University's Center on Violence Against Women and Children to pilot, evaluate, and further refine the survey recommended by the Task Force. 

Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Reauthorization Bill (Christine Keller) 

A new bill to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) includes a provision to align accountability and data collection across all of its programs through common performance measures. As summarized within a blog post by the Workforce Data Quality Campaign (WDQC), key changes in the new WIA bill would hold all workforce programs accountable to the same set of outcome metrics: “employment after program exit; median earnings; credential attainment; measurable skill gains; and employer engagement. A one-page summary of the bill is also available.   

Comment Request for Data Collection in the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS) (Christine Keller) 

The Department of Education requests comments on NPSAS measures and methods for a field test in 2015 and major data collection in 2016. The Department seeks information regarding quality, usefulness and clarity of measures, as well as suggestions for ways to minimize the burden of reporting for selected institutions. Comments are due by June 27, 2014.

Published May 13, 2014 

Reports and Tools

State Higher Education Finance FY 2013 (Bob Handley) 

The State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) published State Higher Education Finance FY2013, an analysis of state support for public higher education. The report shows that in 2013 state and local funding increased to $81.6 billion over 2012’s $81.1 billion, reversing annual declines in funding since 2008.  Dollars spent per full-time student also increased over 2012 dollars spent to $6,105, reversing an annual decline that began in 2009.  However, dollars spent per student has not recovered to pre-2008 recession levels; the increase in dollars spent per student is partly due to a decline in enrollment in 2013; and the cost of public higher education is increasingly placed on the student as tuition continues to increase.  Finally, gains in state and local funding are not uniform across the country as 20 states reduced support in 2013. Supplementary tables with extensive state-level data are available at www.sheeo.org. 

Developmental Strategies for College Readiness and Success (Teri Lyn Hinds) 

States across the nation are focused on increasing the educational attainment levels of their populations to respond to projections of workforce need, strengthen economic development, and compete more successfully in the domestic and global economy. But these efforts are hindered by massive numbers of students leaving high school unprepared to succeed in entry-level college courses. While colleges and universities have offered remedial education for decades, traditional approaches to designing and delivering remediation have not worked well for many underprepared students. Care must be taken to identify and implement developmental strategies that increase the probability students will complete a program of study and obtain a credential or degree. The Developmental Strategies for College Readiness and Success Resource Guide is designed to provide state policymakers, system-level administrators, and practitioners with tools to more effectively think about, develop strategies and plans, and ultimately take action to address this complex problem. 

A Stronger Nation through Higher Education (Bob Handley) 

In its annual report, A Stronger Nation through Higher Education, the Lumina Foundation claims the U.S. is making improvements in postsecondary degree, certificate, or credential attainment. By 2025 the Lumina Foundation wants 60 percent of Americans to hold a college degree or credential, and reports “the rate at which degree attainment is increasing is accelerating.”  In 2012, 39.4 percent of Americans between the ages of 25 and 64 held a degree from a two- or four-year college – an increase from 38.7 percent in 2011, and the largest single-year increase since Lumina began reporting attainment rates.  However, Lumina reports continued gaps in college attainment between racial and ethnic groups and among low-income and first-generation students.  If 60 percent of Americans are to attain a postsecondary credential by 2025, Lumina claims these gaps must be closed and significant reforms to higher education are necessary. 

National Center for Education Statistics (Melodie Christal) 

  • In The Condition of Education 2013, both undergraduate and graduate degree fields have been updated. From academic year 2001–02 to 2011–12, the number of associate's degrees awarded increased by 71 percent, from 595,100 to over 1 million, and the number of bachelor's degrees awarded increased by 39 percent, from 1.3 million to 1.8 million. Graduate degrees increased by 55 percent between 2001-02 and 2011-12 academic years, and doctoral degrees increased 42 percent over the same time period. In addition, the report reveals that approximately half of the master’s degrees awarded during the 2011-12 academic year were concentrated in business (25 percent) and education (24 percent).  
  • The Data Point Out-of-Pocket Net Price for College (NCES 2014-902) uses four years of National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS) data (NPSAS:2000, NPSAS:04, NPSAS:08, and NPSAS:12) to show trends in out-of-pocket net price for college. For this report, out-of-pocket net price is defined as the amount students and families pay for college after subtracting grants, loans, work-study, and all other student aid from the total price of attendance. Out-of-pocket net price for income levels are also presented for 2011-12.  
  • The Web Tables Postsecondary Completers and Completions: 2011-12 (NCES 2014-033) present IPEDS data on the number of completers, the number of completions, and the average number of awards provided per completer. These data can provide some indication of the extent to which students earn multiple awards in a given year. 
  • College Navigator has been updated to include IPEDS data reported during fall 2013. This includes Estimated Student Expenses 2013-14, Admissions Data, and Completions conferred in 2012-13. 
  • The collection schedule for the 2014-15 IPEDS collection cycle has been posted at the IPEDS Data Provider Center and is also accessible via the Help menu in the data collection system. As previously announced, information regarding changes to the 2014-15 collection are also available through the IPEDS Data Provider Center. 

Access, affordability, and success: How do America’s colleges fare? An interactive guide (Christine Keller) 

In a response to President Obama’s plan to promote college affordability and the college ratings system, the American Enterprise Institute created Access, affordability, and success: How do America’s colleges fare? An interactive guide that allows users to rate four-year institutions on their graduation rates, net price, and share of Pell grant recipients enrolled. The interactive chart utilizes IPEDS data on 1,716 four- year institutions and allows users to filter the data by sector and region. 

Should All Student Loan Payments Be Income-Driven: Trade Offs and Challenges (Christine Keller) 

The Should All Student Loan Payments Be Income-Driven: Trade Offs and Challenges white paper from The Institute for College Access & Success focuses on the implications of an automatic “income-driven” federal loan repayment system, with particular attention on the implications for low-income students.  Overall, the authors find several pros and cons of a mandatory income based repayment system, but caution that making it the default plan could remove consumer choice and may have unintended consequences. The paper also makes a case for more data and research to better understand how an income-driven repayment system could impact students with the greatest need.  

Emerging Trends 

College Costs and Prices:  Some Key Facts for Policymakers (Teri Lyn Hinds) 

Tuition is rising, more students are in debt and at higher levels than ever before, and pressure is mounting from every direction and in both political parties—from the White House to state legislatures to overwhelmed parents and students—to do something about it. On the other hand, many colleges and college systems across the country have become more innovative and resourceful in providing higher education at a lower cost, reducing expenditures on business operations, taking advantage of new technology, and redesigning instruction to make better use of faculty time. So why hasn’t this translated—usually—into costs savings for students? College Costs and Prices: Some Key Facts for Policymakers, an issue paper from the Lumina Foundation, presents a few key facts about higher education costs and prices that may provide some context for the current policy debate.  

College Costs, Prices, and the Great Recession (Teri Lyn Hinds) 

In College Costs, Prices and the Great Recession, the Lumina Foundation posits that as states and families begin to recover from the effects of the Great Recession, some of the urgency about college affordability may start to ease. The College Board’s Trends in College Pricing 2013 report shows tuition rising more slowly than in recent years. Growth in Pell grant applications is also expected to slow as income picks back up and many students transition into newly available jobs. Yet it could all happen again when the next crisis hits. Education budgets could be slashed indiscriminately, tuition could skyrocket just as incomes are falling, and the worst-off states could find themselves least able to keep the college dream alive for students who count on public support. But if we learned anything from the last few years, we can be better prepared. In order not to repeat some of the mistakes of the recession, it will help to understand how the economy, college costs, and college prices interact.  

Policy Watch (Christine Keller) 

Use of APIs in Higher Education Data and Student Aid Processes 

The Department of Education is requesting information on the use of Application Program Interfaces (APIs) in the context of higher education data and student aid programs and processes. The Department is soliciting this information and feedback for the purpose of making higher education data and processes more open and accessible to students and families. Written submissions are due by June 2, 2014.

College-Rating System Will Go Forward, Duncan Says 

The May 1, 2014 Chronicle of Education article College-Rating System Will Go Forward, Duncan Says reported Secretary of Education Arne Duncan testified before Congress on the president’s fiscal year 2015 budget. At the Senate subcommittee hearing, members raised concerns about the implications of a college-rating system on access and the potential risks of using student earnings data to rate institutions. At the House education committee hearing, Representative Virginia Foxx suggested that the Department share data it currently collects with the public, instead of developing a ratings system, to increase transparency and to allow the public to make their own choices. Duncan stressed the importance of accountability in higher education and maintained that the ratings system will be developed, even if the $10 million requested for this purpose is not granted. 

Comment Period Open for IPEDS Technical Review Panel #43 

Suggestions from Technical Review Panel #43, “Defining an IPEDS Institution – Part 2,” held March 18-19, 2014, are currently open for comment.  Comments should be sent to Janice Kelly-Reid, IPEDS Project Director at RTI International and are due by June 4, 2014.

Published April 10, 2014 

Reports and Tools

Million Records Project: A Review of Veteran Achievement in Higher Education (Teri Lyn Hinds) 

Student Veterans of America, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Student Clearinghouse, launched the Million Records Project in 2013 with a goal of providing near real-time data that policymakers, service providers, institutions of higher learning, and the general public can act on to support student veterans. On March 24, they released the first in a planned series of resources: Million Records Project: A Review of Veteran Achievement in Higher Education. Initial results included in the report show strong postsecondary outcomes for the current generation of student veterans. A majority (51.7 percent) of student veterans earned a postsecondary degree or certificate, despite the challenges they face. Like other nontraditional student populations, they tend to be older, have families to support, and juggle employment and school. Unlike their nontraditional peers, however, student veterans are unique in that they may delay their enrollment or interrupt their progress in higher education due to military obligations, and may have service-connected disabilities. 

Mapping the Postsecondary Data Domain: Problems and Possibilities (Teri Lyn Hinds) 

The Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) report Mapping the Postsecondary Data Domain: Problems and Possibilities summarizes their work to map the various federal data systems against key questions America’s students, policymakers, and colleges and universities are asking. The work, completed as part of the Reimagining Aid Design and Delivery (RADD) Simplification and Transparency Consortium, and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, concludes that while there exists a solid base of understanding in some areas, it falls short in others. Although a series of voluntary data initiatives have arisen in recent years, the initiatives do not include all institutions or all states. However such initiatives are leading to growing agreement on the critical questions and core measures that could help to unify postsecondary data more broadly. The core measures and proposed improvements are described in the report with additional technical details available in the Technical Report. 

The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2013 (Teri Lyn Hinds) 

The results reported in The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2013 are based on analyses of the 48th annual administration of the CIRP Freshman Survey and cover topics from student application strategies, colleges costs, and student attitudes about some of the most-discussed political issues in 2013, including gun control, taxes, and gay rights. The report also reviews the changing demographics of new freshmen high schools and neighborhoods, as well as changes to the CIRP Freshman Survey made to more accurately capture students’ cognitive and interpersonal skills. Results reported are based on over 165,000 first-time, full-time students who entered 234 U.S. colleges and universities of varying levels of selectivity and type in Fall 2013. 

Administrators in Higher Education Salary Survey for the 2013-14 Academic Year (Teri Lyn Hinds) 

Summary reports from the 47th annual administration of the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) Administrators in Higher Education Salary Survey (AHESS) show a median salary increase of 2.4 percent overall, with increases at public institutions increasing more than at private institutions for the first time in four years. The AHESS collects salary data for 191 positions with primary assignments requiring management of the institution or of customarily recognized divisions within it. The AHESS replaced the Administrative Compensation Survey in 2012-13. Institutions can order complete copies of the survey results from the CUPA-HR website. 

National Center for Education Statistics (Christine Keller) 

The IPEDS Institution Profile located within the IPEDS Data Center has been re-designed and enhanced. The enhanced institution profile is accessible under the “Look Up An Institution” function, and includes additional data on student charges, net price, distance education enrollment, enrollment by age, and enrollment by residence. 
 
The NCES Statistical Brief New College Graduate at Work (NCES 2014003) examines the employment outcomes of bachelor’s recipients one year after graduation, over three time periods using nationally-representative data from the Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Studies of 1993, 2000, and 2008. Among the findings, the unemployment rate of 2007-2008 bachelor’s graduates (9 percent) was higher than the unemployment rates for 1992-93 graduates (4 percent) and 1999-2000 graduates (5 percent). 

Emerging Trends

Delivering Opportunity and the Redesigned SAT (Teri Lyn Hinds)  

In early March, the College Board announced major changes to the SAT, including a substantial revision to the writing test, in spring 2016. The SAT redesign is centered on eight key changes: 1) relevant words in context; 2) command of evidence; 3) essay analyzing a source; 4) math focused on three key areas (problem solving and data analysis, algebra, and familiarity with more complex equations and manipulations); 5) problems grounded in real-world contexts; 6) analysis in science and social studies; 7) founding documents and great global conversation; and 8) no penalty for wrong answer, only credit for correct answers. The SAT was last revised in 2005 when the writing test was first introduced. Additional detail on the SAT revisions and the reasons behind them can be found on the College Board website. 

Changing Student Pathways (Teri Lyn Hinds) 

Changing Student Pathways is a collection of news articles and essays from Inside Higher Ed about the different paths students take (including some detours) on the way to a college degree or certificate.

The articles and essays -- available in print-on-demand format -- aim to put recent developments into long-term context, and to present the timely thinking of commentators about the changes in the routes students take through higher education. The goal is to provide these materials in one easy-to-read place. The issues were also discussed in a March 6 webinar, a recording of which is available on IHE’s website. Registration is required to download the compilation. 

The Graduate Student Debt Review (Christine Keller)

Utilizing data from the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS), New America’s report The Graduate Student Debt Review found that graduate student loans make up approximately 34 percent of recent total loans disbursements, and debt at the 75th percentile for most master’s degrees grew from $54,000 in 2004, to $85,000 in 2012. The author suggests that policy makers and news media should increase their focus on graduate student debt and the large increases in graduate student borrowing. 

Policy Watch (Christine Keller)

Custom Comparison Groups for the 2014 Data Feedback Report.
IPEDS Keyholders may create a custom comparison group for use in the 2014 IPEDS Data Feedback Report until July 16, 2014. The Data Feedback Report will be emailed to the institution’s CEO/President and to Keyholders in fall 2014. Creating a custom comparison group is not required but is encouraged. Custom comparison groups can be created using the
IPEDS Data Center or within the Data Collection System under the Tools menu. Instructions for creating a group are located under the Help menu. AIR also offers a webinar Creating Comparison Groups to guide Keyholders through the creation process.

Comment Request for Program Integrity: Gainful Employment
The Department of Education has opened a comment period until May 27, 2014 on the proposed regulation concerning gainful employment programs, including rules around program eligibility and accountability. Comments can be submitted electronically through the Federal Register website, which also includes background materials.

Comment Request for the 2015-16 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS:16)
ED is requesting comments on their NPSAS:16 Field Test Institutions and Enrollment Lists submission, which includes field test materials, procedures for institution sampling, institution contacting, enrollment list collection, and enrollment list sampling. The NPSAS:16 field test sample will comprise approximately 300 institutions and around 4,500 students. NPSAS:16 is a nationally representative study focused on how students finance their postsecondary education. Background materials can be found here. Comments can be submitted electronically through the Federal Register website until May 27, 2014.

Comment Period Open for IPEDS Technical Review Panel #42
Suggestions from the IPEDS Technical Review Panel No. 42, “Defining an IPEDS Institution,” are posted here and are currently open for comment. Comments can be sent to Janice Kelly-Reid, IPEDS Project Director at RTI International and are due by May 2, 2014.

Published March 12, 2014

Reports and Tools

Where Value Meets Value: The Economic Impact of Community Colleges (Melodie Christal)

The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI) present results from a recent economic impact study, Where Value Meets Value: The Economic Impact of Community Colleges. The report assesses the impact of America’s public community colleges on the national economy in 2012 and the return on investment for the colleges’ key stakeholder groups--students, society, and taxpayers. Results show that America’s community colleges made a significant positive impact on the U.S. economy in 2012 with the net total impact of $809 billion in added income. Over time, the report predicts even greater economic benefits, including $285.7 billion in increased tax revenue as students earn higher wages and $19.2 billion in taxpayer savings as students require fewer government-supported social services. Students also see a significant economic benefit. For every $1 a student spends on community college education, the return on investment is $3.80. 

The Rising Cost of Not Going to College (Melodie Christal)

The Pew Research Center report, The Rising Cost of Not Going to College, summarizes public views and student attitudes on the value of a college degree; it also addresses the benefits of postsecondary education for an individual as well as society. The report shows that on almost every measure of economic well-being and career attainment, young college graduates outperform their peers with less education. The report notes that a student’s field of study plays a major role in future earnings and job satisfaction. The report also documents the declining value of a high school diploma with high school graduates faring worse, both in comparison to their peers and when measured against other generations of high school graduates at a similar point in their lives.
 
Knowing What Students Know and Can Do: The Current State of Student Learning Outcomes Assessment in U.S. Colleges and Universities (Zhao Yang)
 
The National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment report, Knowing What Students Know and Can Do: The Current State of Student Learning Outcomes Assessment in U.S. Colleges and Universities, presents findings from a spring 2013 survey of academic officers on assessment activities. The survey results indicate significantly more assessment activity than a few years ago, and the range of tools and measures to assess student learning has expanded significantly – with 84 percent of the respondents reporting they had common learning goals for all their students. The primary drivers of assessment on college campuses are regional and specialized accrediting agencies. The report concludes that assessment of student learning has turned the corner in that the work is no longer primarily an act of compliance, but rather is motivated by a more appropriate balance of compliance and an institutional desire to improve.
 
The Student Debt Review: Analyzing the State of Undergraduate Student Borrowing (Melodie Christal)

The New America Foundation report, The Student Debt Review: Analyzing the State of Undergraduate Student Borrowing, presents data from the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS) conducted in 2003-04, 2007-08, and 2011-12. The report highlights borrowing rates; borrowing amounts; the range of indebtedness; and average borrowing by completers, with and without debt. Nearly 70 percent of students who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2012 took out debt for their education, and those with loans owed $29,400 on average. This is an increase of nearly 20 percent in four years, and it is a record high in both the percentage of students borrowing and average amount owed.

10th Annual AP Report to the Nation (Zhao Yang)

 In the 10th Annual AP Report to the Nation, College Board compares Advanced Placement (AP) Exam data from 2003 to 2013. The data show that over the past decade, the number of students who graduate from high school having taken rigorous AP courses has nearly doubled, and the number of low-income students taking AP courses has more than quadrupled. The report attributes the increase to efforts by state leaders, educators, and the College Board itself to expand both access to and success in AP. State-specific data on AP participation and performance data on races/ethnicities and low-income students are available on the website.

What America Needs to Know about Higher Education Redesign (Christine Keller)

The Lumina Foundation and Gallup released their annual study What America Needs to Know about Higher Education Redesign on public perception of key issues in higher education with a special focus on the opinions of business leaders. The survey revealed that 84 percent of business leaders are more concerned about how much knowledge job candidates have – instead of which school they attended or their major – when making hiring decisions. The survey showed that only 11 percent of business leaders strongly agree that college graduates are well prepared for the workforce, which contrasts with a previous Gallup and Inside Higher Ed survey finding that most chief academic officers were confident in how well their institution prepared students for success in the workforce.

National Center for Education Statistics (Melodie Christal)

Academic Libraries: 2012 First Look (NCES-2014-038) summarizes services, staff, collections, and expenditures of academic libraries in two- and four-year postsecondary institutions. Information on electronic services, information literacy, and virtual references are also included.

Projections of Education Statistics in 2012 (NCES 2014-051) includes projections at the national level on enrollment, graduates, teachers, and expenditures in elementary and secondary schools, and enrollment, degrees conferred, and expenditures of postsecondary institutions. In addition, the report includes projections of public elementary and secondary school enrollment and public high school graduates to the year 2022 at the state level.

Emerging Trends

Top 10 Higher Education State Policy Issues for 2014 (Melodie Christal)

For the eighth year, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) released its Policy Matters brief, Top 10 Higher Education State Policy Issues for 2014. “Harnessing Higher Education to Address State Economic Goals” topped the 2014 list and included linking postsecondary education to state economic and workforce goals. State higher education financing dropped from the number two spot in 2013 to the number three spot, being replaced by efforts to link state funding and keep tuition low. Other top issues identified were college readiness, vocational and technical education, increased college degree production, STEM-related initiatives, immigration, and guns on campus. The brief concludes that public colleges and universities remain important to ensure individual success and state prosperity, but that with new money will come additional accountability.

New Census Website (Christine Keller)

The Census Bureau is soliciting feedback on the beta version of its new website, which will be available mid-March. New features include topic-based navigation and a home page that provides access to popular data. Feedback can be sent to cnmp.web.comments.list@census.gov.

Commentary on Net Price (Christine Keller)

In The Chronicle of Higher Education (2/24/2014) article, How average net price fails to capture the “best bang’ for your buck, Jonah Newman examines the limitations of average net price as a measure of college costs for consumers and accountability purposes. Newman argues that though average net price is an improvement from sticker price, it tends to overestimate the cost of college for low-income students and underestimate the cost for higher income students. He discusses net price by income as a better alternative, especially for accountability purposes.

Policy Watch

Postsecondary Institutional Ratings System (PIRS) Update (Christine Keller)

Since the technical symposium in February, no new information has been released on the U.S. Department of Education (USED) Postsecondary Institutional Ratings System (PIRS). A draft of how the rating system will be implemented is scheduled for release later this spring – including data sources, the methodology for developing the ratings, and the framework for presenting those institutional ratings.

Published February 12, 2014

Reports and Tools

2014 Grapevine Compilation of State Fiscal Support for Higher Education (Christine Keller) 

The Center for the Study of Education Policy at Illinois State University released the 2014 Grapevine Compilation of State Fiscal Support for Higher Education, data collected annually as a joint project with the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO). The data indicate that state investment in higher education grew from $72 billion in FY13 to $76 billion in FY14. However, just over half of the real dollar increase comes in three large states (California, Florida, and Illinois) with very modest increases in other states. And for most of the country, even with any increases in the last few years, funding is still below pre-recession levels. Data tables are available on the Center website summarizing the results of the Grapevine survey for fiscal year 2014 and prior.  

Performance Funding: Impacts, Obstacles, and Unintended Outcomes (Christine Keller) 

The Community College Research Center at Columbia University released a policy brief Performance Funding: Impacts, Obstacles, and Unintended Outcomes with research-based information on performance-based higher education funding policies (PBF). The policy brief outlines the differences between PBF 1.0 and 2.0, research-based evidence on the effects of performance-based funding, PBF's unintended consequences, and suggestions of how to reduce PBF's obstacles and unintended consequences. 

Labor Intensive or Labor Expensive? Changing Staffing and Compensation Patterns in Higher Education (Christine Keller)  

The Delta Cost Project at the American Institutes of Research report, Labor Intensive or Labor Expensive? Changing Staffing and Compensation Patterns in Higher Education, analyzes federal data from 1987 to 2010 on staffing and compensation in higher education. Among other findings, the researchers found flat faculty salaries, growth in non-faculty professional positions, and a greater reliance on part-time faculty members and instructors. The report concluded faculty salaries were not the leading cause of rising tuition in the last decade, but that increased benefit costs, additional non-faculty positions, and declines in state and institutional subsidies all played a role.  

Grade Change: Tracking Online Education in the United States (Melodie Christal) 

Grade Change: Tracking Online Education in the United States is the 11th annual report on the state of online learning in higher education based on a survey conducted by the Babson Survey Research Group. When the survey was first conducted in 2002, less than one-half of college and university leaders indicated online education was critical to their long-term strategy; in 2013, 66 percent of leaders reported online learning as critical to their long-term strategy. The number of students taking at least one online course during 2012 increased by 6.1 percent to 7.1 million and this number is expected to grow. Although the majority of respondents rate the learning outcomes in online education as the same or superior to those in face-to-face instruction, the percentage has decreased from 77 percent in 2012 to 74 percent in 2013. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are now offered by 5 percent of higher education institutions, and most institutions remain undecided about whether they will offer them.  

How Liberal Arts and Sciences Majors Fare in Employment (Zhao Yang) 

The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) report, How Liberal Arts and Sciences Majors Fare in Employment, provides data on earnings and long-term career paths for college graduates to address questions about the value of college degrees. Among the key findings, at peak earnings ages (56-60 years) workers who majored as undergraduates in the humanities or social sciences earn annually about $2,000 more than those who majored as undergraduates in professional or pre-professional fields. The unemployment rate of liberal arts majors is about 5.2% for graduates ages 21 to 30 and drops to 3.5% among 41- to 50-year-olds, which is slightly higher than the unemployment rate in professional fields. The AAC&U website provides a summary of the report, as well as the complete report which is available for purchase.  

B-School Followup: Class of 2013 (Zhao Yang) 

The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) reports on enrollment opportunities for 2013 MBA alumni in B-School Followup: Class of 2013. Results show the class of 2013 MBA have been successful in finding employment across job sectors with 90 percent employed at the time of the survey. The majority of the MBA graduates are employed in the products and services, finance and accounting, and consulting sectors. Three-quarters of the class of 2013 say they could not have obtained their job without their graduate management education. Regardless of employment status, the alums feel their education developed their qualitative (95 percent) and quantitative (92 percent) skills, expanded their network (90 percent), and prepared them for the job market (90 percent).  

National Center for Education Statistics (Melodie Christal) 

The Digest of Education Statistics, 2012 (NCES 2014-015) is the 48th in a series of publications initiated in 1962. The Digest provides statistical information on education from pre-kindergarten through graduate school on a variety of topics including the number of schools and colleges, teachers, enrollment, and graduates. The report also includes data on educational attainment, finances, and federal funds for education, libraries, and international comparisons.  

In the First Look report, Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS: 2002): A First Look at 2002 High School Sophomores 10 Years Later (NCES 2014-363), the educational and developmental experiences of a national sample of 2002 high school sophomores is tracked a decade later. This First Look report focuses on outcomes associated with young adulthood: current work and education activities, postsecondary enrollment (if any) and educational attainment, labor market experiences, family formation (marital and parental status), and current living arrangements.  

Emerging Trends  

Interstate Passport (Melodie Christal) 

The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) launched Interstate Passport, a block transfer framework based on learning outcomes instead of courses and credits. The goal of this initiative is to create a pathway for students to transfer their general education or liberal arts courses from institutions in one state to those in another. Currently, there are 16 institutions from four states currently participating in this initiative, and other WICHE states and institutions are now able to apply for “Passport” status.  

U.S. Census Bureau: Educational Attainment in the United States: 2013 (Christine Keller) 

In early February, the Census Bureau released new data on educational attainment and academic achievement by race/ethnicity, gender, and other characteristics. The release also includes information on the number of years of school completed for each level of educational attainment.   

Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) Version 4 Released (Christine Keller) 

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) Version 4. CEDS is a national collaborative effort to develop voluntary, common data standards for a key set of education data elements to streamline the exchange, comparison, and understanding of data within and across P-20W institutions and sectors. CEDS Version 4 includes elements spanning much of the P-20W spectrum and provides greater context and additional interactive tools for understanding the standards' interrelationships and practical utility.   

Policy Watch (Christine Keller) 

GI Bill Comparison Tool - The Veteran’s Administration released a new GI Bill Comparison Tool – similar to the College Scorecard and linked to College Navigator – to help veterans, active service members, and their family members navigate various colleges and calculate expected benefits under the GI Bill. In addition to estimating the costs of attendance (including book stipends and housing allowances), the comparison tool also provides information on graduation rates, median borrowing, and loan default rates. 

Student Right to Know Before You Go Act - Senators Wyden and Rubio co-authored an Inside Higher Ed op-ed Reform Starts with Good Data on February 6, advocating for their bi-partisan Student Right to Know Before You Go Act, which among other things would end the ban on unit-record data in higher education and provide a range of comparative data for all institutions and programs of study. 

Recap of Postsecondary Institution Rating Systems (PIRS) Discussion and Comments - Inside Higher Ed summarized many of the 125 perspectives on the Postsecondary Institution Rating System (PIRS) submitted during the Department of Education public comment period in their piece Rating (and Berating) the Ratings from February 7. Their analysis covers many of the tensions that respondents cited about accountability and consumer choice, the sufficiency (or lack thereof) of data, which outcomes data on which to focus, and how to assess institutions that serve large numbers of low-income students. PIRS was also the topic of the Lead Story for the February edition of eAIR.

IPEDS Data Collection Changes for 2014-15 and 2015-16 (Carol Fuller & Peggye Cohen)

OMB has approved the proposed changes for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 IPEDS collection cycles. These changes include:   

2014-2015

  • New Academic Libraries (AL) survey in spring collection; the level of reporting will be based on screening questions on the Institutional Characteristics survey (IC).
  • New data on veterans and military service members: the number of undergraduate and graduate students receiving benefits and total dollar amounts awarded on Student Financial Aid (SFA) and services available to veterans on IC.
  • Several changes on the Finance (F) survey aimed at for-profit institutions to increase comparability across sectors.
  • Estimated fall enrollment on the IC will be removed.
  • Admissions data will be moved from the IC to a new Admissions (ADM) survey in the winter data collection; the new survey will be comprised entirely of items removed from the IC.
  • Institutions will be asked to voluntarily report the time required to complete each survey component (data to be collected every three (3) years) to provide better estimates of burden.

2015-16

  • New Outcome Measures (OM) survey in winter collection for degree-granting institutions on four cohorts: full-time, first-time students; part-time, first-time students; full-time, non-first-time entering students; and part-time, non-first-time entering students. For each cohort, institutions will provide a status update on the following categories: received award; did not receive award, still enrolled at reporting institution; did not receive award, subsequently enrolled at another institution; did not receive award, and subsequent enrollment status unknown.

Published January 15, 2014

Reports and Tools

Searching for Our Lost Associate’s Degrees: Project Win-Win at the Finish Line (Melodie Christal)

The Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) report, Searching for Our Lost Associate’s Degrees: Project Win-Win at the Finish Line, describes Project Win-Win, a nine-state effort in which 61 associate degree-granting institutions located former students who qualified for a degree but never received it, and awarded the degree retroactively. The institutions also identified former students who were close to completing an associate’s degree and encouraged those students to re-enroll and complete the credit hours required to earn their degree. As a direct result of Project Win-Win, more than 6,700 students were identified as eligible for the retroactive award of an associate’s degree and more than 4,500 of those students have received degrees to date. Out of more than 20,000 students identified with fewer than 12 credits to completion, almost 1,700 students have returned to college and another 400 have signaled their intent to return. The report includes recommendations for improving future iterations of Project Win-Win. 

What’s the Value of an Associate’s Degree? The Return on Investment for Graduates and Taxpayers (Melodie Christal)

In What’s the Value of an Associate’s Degree? The Return on Investment for Graduates and Taxpayers, Mark Schneider, from the American Institutes for Research, and Jorge Klor de Alva, from Nexus Research and Policy Center, look at the labor market outcomes of students who graduated with an associate’s degree as their highest academic credential. The authors examined data from 579 institutions representing 80 percent of the nation’s community college enrollment and addressed two questions: (1) Do graduates who earn an associate’s degree experience returns such as higher wages that justify the costs incurred in obtaining the degree? (2) Do taxpayers receive a positive return on their investment? Based on their findings, the median earnings of associate’s degree holders is about $259,000 more than for high school graduates, and the associate’s degree holders are less likely to be unemployed in harsh economic times. The authors note, however, that 30 states have some community colleges whose graduates’ median net income earnings trail those of the state’s high school graduates.  

Completing College: A National View of Student Attainment Rates - Fall 2007 Cohort (Zhao Yang)

The National Student Clearinghouse has released its second annual completions report: Completing College: A National View of Student Attainment Rates - Fall 2007 Cohort. The report is based on student-level data that tracks Fall 2007 first-time postsecondary degree‐seeking students for six years, through Spring 2013. More than half (56.1 percent) of first‐time degree-seeking students who enrolled in Fall 2007, completed a degree or certificate within six years, including 13.1 percent who completed at an institution other than the starting institution. Over 15 percent of the 2007 cohort is still enrolled in college. The results suggest that conventional approaches to understanding college effectiveness and student success, which are limited to the starting institution, fail to capture the picture of overall national completion rates and the complexity of student behavior. The report introduces an enhancement to the first Completing College report by including students in the cohort who entered college with prior experience in college-level courses through dual enrollment opportunities while still in high school. The report also provides data by gender. 

The Condition of College and Career Readiness 2013: First Generation Students (Melodie Christal)

In The Condition of College and Career Readiness 2013: First Generation Students, ACT and the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) provide information to gain a greater understanding of first-generation students. Nearly 94 percent of ACT-tested first-generation students aspired to earn some form of postsecondary degree, and two out of three took ACT’s recommended core curriculum of four years of English and three years each of math, science, and social studies. Despite this preparation, first-generation students lag behind their peers in college readiness, and ACT and COE advocate for more effective policies to promote college readiness for these students. 

Managing Online Education 2013: Practices in Ensuring Quality (Zhao Yang)

Managing Online Education 2013: Practices in Ensuring Quality presents results from a survey conducted by the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET) in spring 2013. The survey collects data on the instructional, operational, and technology infrastructure of online programs in higher education. Key findings include: (1) institutions are adopting standards in their online courses with more than 85 percent of responding institutions implementing some form of "standards" or "best practices;” (2) more than half of institutions (58 percent) require new online faculty to participate in faculty development prior to teaching their first online courses; (3) the vast majority of institutions offer library services and advising to online students; and (4) course completion rates for online courses are 3 percent lower than for on-campus courses (78 percent vs. 81 percent). 

National Center for Education Statistics (Melodie Christal)

NCES has released Enrollment in Postsecondary Institutions, Fall 2012; Financial Statistics, Fiscal Year 2012; Graduation Rates, Selected Cohorts, 2004-2009; and Employees in Postsecondary Institutions, Fall 2012: First Look (Provisional Data) based on five surveys from the spring 2013 IPEDS data collection. This final (revised) data is available within the IPEDS Data Center and is now the default choice for Data Center users. 

The 2013 Data Feedback Reports (DFR) will be released later than usual. The current anticipated schedule for release is as follows: DFRs will be emailed to keyholders during the second week of January 2014, sent in hardcopy to institutional CEOs two weeks following the email, and released in the IPEDS Data Center after the provisional release of the spring 2013 IPEDS data. 

Emerging Trends 

New Gallup Survey Designed to Measure the Value of a Degree Beyond Salary (Christine Keller)

A new project announced by Gallup in December, funded by the Lumina Foundation and debuting at Purdue University, is attempting to index new benchmarks of student success beyond employment and earnings. The survey will ask college graduates questions about whether or not respondents are satisfied with work and life, and how much they interact with and attempt to improve their community. The overall survey will include 30,000 college graduates around the country, allowing Gallup to report findings by institution type. More information can be found on the Purdue and Gallup websites.

Policy Watch 

Federal Postsecondary Institution Ratings Systems (PIRS): Updates and Activities (Katie Zaback) 

Feedback from Listening Tour - Deputy Under Secretary of Education Jamienne Studley recently posted on Homeroom, the official blog of the U.S. Department of Education, a summary from meetings on how to make college more affordable and a solid investment for families and taxpayers. The Department of Education held 55 meetings across the country with thousands of participants including students, parents, college leaders, faculty, business people, education associations, and policy analysts. Overall, the feedback received by the Department fell into a few broad categories, including the need to make any ratings system accessible and interpretable for consumers; protect access for underserved students; carefully examine outcome measures beyond degree completion; work to define meaningful peer groups for institutions; and recognize the different funding and institutional structures between different sectors. The Department plans to have a draft of its ratings system ready for public comment sometime in the middle of next year.

Request for Information - The Department of Education released a request for information on the Obama Administration’s proposed Postsecondary Institution Ratings Systems (PIRS). Submissions can be sent by January 31, 2014, via the Federal eRulemaking Portal, or postal or commercial mail. 

Gainful Employment - The Department of Education’s third and final rulemaking session on gainful employment was held on December 13, and negotiators could not come to a consensus. The next step will be for the Department of Education to submit its own final draft for public comment.

Published December 11, 2013

Reports and Tools

A Fresh Look at Student Engagement — NSSE Annual Results 2013 (Zhao Yang)

The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) 2013 report, A Fresh Look at Student Engagement, presents information from the redesigned NSSE survey, administered for the first time in 2013. Results from nearly 335,000 first-year and senior students document aspects of the undergraduate experience that contribute to increases in student learning, retention, persistence, and completion. In the report, NSSE introduces 10 Engagement Indicators organized within four themes adapted from NSSE’s former Benchmarks of Effective Educational Practice. The Engagement Indicators are used as a way to better understand variations in the undergraduate experience. For example, as higher education debates the merits of distance learning, NSSE reports students enrolled in online courses spend more hours per week preparing for class compared to students taking no courses online. However, students taking all their courses online were significantly less engaged in “collaborative learning.”

A Matter of Degrees: Engaging Practices, Engaging Students (Melodie Christal)

The Center for Community College Student Engagement (CCCSE) report, A Matter of Degrees: Engaging Practices, Engaging Students, uses data from four surveys (Survey of Entering Student Engagement, Community College Survey of Student Engagement, the Community College Faculty Survey of Student Engagement, and the Community College Institutional Survey) to identify 12 key educational policies and practices with a high impact on student engagement in community colleges. CCCSE found that while a growing number of colleges offer activities such as student success courses, only a few institutions require such activities and few students participate in them. The report provides colleges with a framework for examining their own practices and for discerning gaps between what students need and what the college provides.  

How College Shapes Lives: Understanding the Issues (Zhao Yang)

The College Board report, How College Shapes Lives: Understanding the Issues, discusses ways in which the value of postsecondary education can be measured and provides insights into debates about the value of college and the need to improve education attainment in the United States. The report also includes essays by five eminent scholars on issues relating to the benefits of higher education and how to improve the distribution of those benefits.

Graduate Enrollment and Degrees: 2002 to 2012 (Melodie Christal)

The Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) and the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) Board present findings from their annual survey in Graduate Enrollment and Degrees: 2002 to 2012. The report provides data on Fall 2012 graduate school applications and enrollment as well as graduate degrees and certificates conferred in 2011-12. Trend data for one-, five-, and ten-year periods are also included. About 1.74 million students were enrolled in graduate programs in Fall 2012 including 461,000 first-time graduate students. About 75 percent of the students enrolled in programs leading to a master’s degree or certificate and nearly one-half enrolled in education, business, or health science programs. In 2011-12, approximately 67,200 doctoral degrees, 540,200 master’s degrees, and 31,900 graduate certificates were awarded.

Student Debt and the Class of 2012 (Christine Keller)

According to information in a new report, Student Debt and the Class of 2012, college graduates who borrowed for bachelor’s degrees granted in 2012 had an average student loan debt of $29,400. The report is part of an annual series on student debt compiled by the Project on Student Debt at The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS). Other findings for the 2012 graduates show that 71 percent have student loan debt and one-fifth of their debt was in private loans. From 2008 to 2012, average debt (federal and private loans combined) increased an average of 6 percent each year. The report also includes lists of high- and low-debt states and colleges around the country and highlights significant differences among colleges and states.

2013 SAT Report on College and Career Readiness (Melodie Christal)

In 2013 SAT Report on College and Career Readiness, the College Board reports only 43 percent of 2013 high school graduates taking the SAT were academically prepared for college-level course work. This number has not changed in five years. Studies show students who meet the SAT College and Career Readiness benchmark are more likely to enroll in a four-year college and more likely to persist and complete their degree. The 2013 high school graduates who met the SAT benchmark had several academic characteristics in common. They were: (1) more likely to have completed a core curriculum (four or more years of English and three or more years each of mathematics, natural science, and social science or history); (2) more likely to have taken honors or AP courses; and (3) more likely to be ranked in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating class.

Knocking at the College Door Supplements (Melodie Christal)

The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) has released a supplement to its Knocking at the College Door projections of high school graduates. The supplement breaks out projections of public high school graduates by sex through 2027-28 and provides new projections for public high school graduates produced in the 25 most heavily populated metropolitan areas in the United States.

National Center for Education Statistics (Christine Keller)

NCES released a Statistical Analysis Report (SAR), STEM Attrition: College Students’ Paths Into and Out of STEM Fields, which examines the patterns of beginning postsecondary students who declare a STEM major at the bachelor’s and associate’s degree levels. Their analysis uses the Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study (BPS: 04/09) and the 2009 Postsecondary Education Transcript Study (PETS: 09).The model examines the effect of various factors on the likelihood of students remaining and graduating in a STEM field after six years, switching to a non-STEM field within six years, or dropping out entirely from postsecondary education without earning a credential. Among the findings: 48% of bachelor’s degree STEM students and 69% of associate’s degree STEM students left the field within six years. However, these attrition rates are not markedly different for non-STEM majors. Additionally, at both the bachelor’s and associate’s levels, STEM students who earned an overall college GPA of less than 2.50, were more likely to drop out from college. However, these students were less likely than those with overall college GPA’s of 3.50 or higher, to switch majors to a non-STEM field.

NCES released the 2011–12 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS: 12), a First Look report summarizing new estimates on the price and net price of attending postsecondary institutions. The report is based on data from the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS: 12), a nationally representative study of undergraduate and graduate students attending postsecondary institutions in the United States. In 2011-12, the average net price (price of attendance minus all grant aid) was $14,300 for an undergraduate to attend a public four-year institution and $23,000 to attend a private nonprofit institution. NPSAS: 12 data can be accessed through PowerStats, a tool for the analysis of NCES’s postsecondary education data.

Policy Watch 

Update on Gainful Employment Negotiated Rulemaking Committee

A third session has been added by the U.S. Department of Education as part of the negotiated rulemaking process for Gainful Employment. The negotiated rulemaking committee is charged with preparing proposed regulations establishing standards for programs that prepare students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation. The committee previously met in September and November. More information can be found on the Department of Education website and a notice has been posted on the Federal Register website. 

U.S. Department of Education Requests Input, Calls for Ideas

Last August, President Obama outlined a plan to increase the value and affordability of postsecondary education. On December 4, the U.S. Department of Education requested input on the proposed college rating system and information on campus innovations.  More information can be found on the Department of Education blog. 

Call for New Ideas and Innovations in Higher Education

Another major component of President Obama’s plan is to encourage innovation. The U.S. Department of Education is seeking input from stakeholders on topics “to spur responsible innovation that increases college value and affordability.” For more information on how to submit an idea, review this Federal Register notice or the Department’s Dear Colleague Letter. The deadline for submissions is January 31, 2014. 

Request for Input on College Ratings 

The U.S. Department of Education will submit a Request for Information (RFI) in the Federal Register asking experts and researchers to comment on the development of a college rating system as outlined in President Obama’s plan. (As of December 6, 2013, the Federal Register notice was not yet published.) The Department will continue to encourage the public to share ideas through collegefeedback@ed.gov.

Published November 13, 2013

Reports and Tools 

Outcomes-Based Funding: The Wave of Implementation (Katie Zaback)

The National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS), supported by Complete College America, released Outcomes-Based Funding: The Wave of Implementation, which details trends in outcomes-based funding across states. The report details significant growth in outcomes-based funding and the adoption by states. Over a two-year period, eight states joined early adopters Indiana and Tennessee in implementing outcomes-based funding across all education sectors, and an additional six states are implementing performance-based funding in at least one sector.  Another 10 states are in the process of adopting outcomes-based funding and eight are showing active interest. The report identifies 11 design principles states should consider when developing outcomes-based funding systems such as being inclusive while recognizing distinct missions and goals within the system, designing systems that encourage and incentivize long-term outcomes (such as degree completion) and system goals (such as serving underserved populations), and ensuring measurements are transparent and support the overall goals. 

The Game Changers (Zhao Yang)

Complete College America’s (CCA) newly released report, The Game Changers, suggests five strategies states can implement to help students succeed in college. The strategies include: (1) using performance-based funding to tie state funding to student progression through programs; (2) enrolling students needing remediation in college classes with built-in academic support; (3) encouraging students to enroll in 15 credit hours each semester to finish on time; (4) providing students with “structured scheduling” to help balance jobs and school; and (5) placing students in highly structured degree plans. The report also includes examples of “strategies in action” from across the country that have been successful.  

Redesigning the Pell Grant Program for the Twenty-First Century (Katie Zaback)

In a discussion paper for the Hamilton Project, Redesigning the Pell Grant Program for the Twenty-First Century, financial aid scholars Sandy Baum and Judith Scott-Clayton analyze the current Pell program and provide recommendations on how the program could better support today’s students and encourage successful postsecondary completion. The paper proposes reforms to overcome four key barriers: (1) students’ need for better, targeted, and individualized information to help guide their choice in schools and degree programs; (2) the inability of the existing program structure to meet the needs of nontraditional students; (3) the complexity of the current application process; and (4) the failure of the current system to encourage and support on-time completion. The discussion paper provides specific policy recommendations to overcome these barriers and a road map for starting discussions as part of the Higher Education Opportunity Act Reauthorization process.  

College Board: Trends in Higher Education Series (Melodie Christal)

The College Board’s Trend in Higher Education Series was released in October. These reports provide the latest information on student financial aid, tuition, and other expenses associated with attending college. The Trends website provides easy access to the supporting data for download and use. 

Trends in College Pricing 2013 provides 2013-14 tuition and fees and room-and-board costs, shows how prices have changed over time, and how prices vary across types of institutions, states, and regions. The report also provides information on the average net prices paid by students after taking grant aid into consideration. Data for public two-year and four-year, and private four-year institutions are included. The rate of tuition increases slowed in 2013-14 for the second year in a row, rising less than 3 percent, the smallest increase in three decades. The average in-state tuition and fees at public four-year institutions is $8,893, and the average net price is about $3,120.  

Trends in Student Aid 2013 covers the types, sources, and amounts of financial aid available to assist students and families in paying for postsecondary education. The report looks at both undergraduate and graduate debt. Data in this report are from the 2012-13 academic year. In 2012-13, 49 percent of student aid was in the form of grants with over $185 billion in federal grant aid for undergraduate students. Pell grants of $32.3 million were available to 8.8 million students with an average grant of $3,650. 

Education Pays 2013: The Benefits of Higher Education for Individuals and Society documents differences in the earnings and employment of U.S. adults with different levels of education. It compares health-related behaviors, reliance on public assistance programs, civic participation, and indicators of the well-being of the next generation. Individuals with higher levels of education earn more and are more likely to be employed than others. College graduates provide increased tax revenues to federal, state, and local governments, and the governments spend less on programs to provide support for them. 

High School Benchmarks: National College Progression Rates (Zhao Yang)

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center inaugural report, High School Benchmarks: National College Progression Rates, offers benchmarks for public high schools to compare their graduates’ college transition rates to national rates, including those schools serving low income and minority students. The report presents postsecondary outcomes for high school graduating classes from 2010 through 2012 and includes more than 2.3 million students, or about a quarter of all U.S. high school graduates each year. The high schools are separated into six categories based on income (higher/low), minority (high/low), and demographics (urban/rural). The report also includes college enrollment rates for both the first and second year after high school graduation, as well as persistence from the first to second year of college. The National Student Clearinghouse plans to release a high school benchmarking report annually to help high schools evaluate their progress in improving college access for their students.

National Center for Education Statistics (Katie Zaback)

Degrees of Debt (NCES 2014-011) examines student borrowing and loan repayment of bachelor’s degree recipients one year after graduation. The study compares three cohorts (1994, 2001, and 2009) spanning 15 years. Data for this analysis is from the Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal (B&B) study, which follows bachelor’s degree recipients who were part of the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS) sample. Consistent with similar research, the percent of recent graduates who borrowed for their undergraduate education is growing as is the average amount borrowed. For-profit institutions continue to have the highest borrowing rates, but lower-income dependent students at private nonprofit institutions also have very high rates. Graduates in the most recent cohort seem to have larger challenges paying back their loans as fewer borrowers in the 2009 cohort were in repayment one-year after graduation, and more graduates who were in repayment faced loan payments greater than 12 percent of their monthly income. The report also looked at how loans influenced graduate school enrollment and living arrangements after graduation but there were few consistent trends.  

The 2012-13 Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) Methodology Report (2013-293) describes the universe, methods, and editing processes used by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) in the 2012-13 data collection cycle.   

Emerging Topics 

Voluntary Framework of Accountability

The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) launched the Voluntary Framework of Accountability (VFA) in October. The VFA is the first national accountability system specifically developed by and for two-year colleges.  It is designed to be a comprehensive accountability framework with measures that comprise the breadth of the community college mission and the diversity of students' goals and educational experiences. VFA participation is open to all community colleges. 

Policy Watch 

Education Policy Resource from the New America Foundation

New America Foundation's Education Policy Program launched Ed Central, a new website designed to serve as a comprehensive source of education policy information and analysis. The website showcases news and analysis covering a full range of education issues, from early learning to primary and secondary education, college, and the workforce.   

Comment Request for Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study (BPS: 12/14)

ED is requesting comments on the BPS: 12/14 first follow-up, which will include panel maintenance, student interviews, and administrative record matching. The BPS: 12/14 study will follow a cohort of students who enrolled in postsecondary education for the first time during the 2011-2012 academic years. Comments can be submitted electronically and are due by November 29, 2013.

Gainful Employment

The next gainful employment negotiated rulemaking session was rescheduled for November 18-20.

Published October 23, 2013  

Policy Watch

Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2013–2016; Extension of Public Comment Period; Correction

On October 2, 2013, the U.S. Department of Education published a 30-day comment period notice in the Federal Register (Page 60864, Column 2) seeking public comment for an information collection entitled, “Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2013-2016”. The comment period for this information collection request has been extended to November 14, 2013

The Acting Director, Information Collection Clearance Division, Privacy, Information and Records Management Services, Office of Management, hereby issues a correction notice as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.  
 
Published October 8, 2013
 
Reports and Tools
 
Separate and Unequal (Katie Zaback)

The Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce report, Separate and Unequal, examines minority access to higher education over the past 15 years. Although college access and enrollment for minority students has increased, there are different paths for white students and minority students. White students are increasingly likely to enroll in well-funded and selective four-year institutions, while African American and Hispanic students enroll in less selective, open access two- and four-year institutions. The report uses data from multiple national data sets to illustrate this trend and to discuss its ultimate implication. By attending less-prestigious institutions, Hispanic and African American students are often selecting institutions that have significantly fewer financial resources, lower retention and completion rates, and fewer career opportunities for those who do succeed. The authors acknowledge college readiness plays a part in these trends, but unprepared white students are still more likely to attend highly selective four-year institutions than well-prepared African American and Hispanic students.  

Higher Education Pays: But a Lot More for Some Graduates Than for Others (Melodie Christal)

Based on data from five states (Arkansas, Colorado, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia), in Higher Education Pays: But a Lot More for Some Graduates Than for Others, College Measures reports that several factors influence a graduate’s earnings including the discipline and degree earned and the institution awarding the degree. The report findings include: (1) students with short-term credentials, such as certificates and associate’s degrees, can earn more than bachelor’s degree recipients in the early years; (2) students graduating from flagship institutions do not earn more than graduates from a regional institution, suggesting where a student earns a degree has less of an impact than most students believe; (3) what a student studies influences earnings more than where a student studies; and (4) graduates with degrees in the STEM fields of technology, engineering, and mathematics earn more than other majors, but there is no evidence that those with degrees in science (e.g., biology or chemistry) earn more.  

Innovation Imperative: Enhancing Higher Education Outcomes (Zhao Yang)

On behalf of Northeastern University, FTI Consulting conducted a public opinion survey of 1,000 adults and 263 employers to gain insights on Americans’ attitudes toward the future of higher education. The survey results are presented in Innovation Imperative: Enhancing Higher Education Outcomes. Among the findings, the majority of the public and employers want colleges to produce graduates who can think critically and creatively, and can communicate effectively orally and in writing. They value graduates who are well-rounded, with a range of abilities, over those with industry-specific skills because such skills can be learned in the workplace. The poll found that Americans want colleges and universities to focus on integrating practical experience, such as internships, into the curriculum because graduates with these kinds of experiences tend to be more successful in their careers. Respondents affirmed the value of higher education, but 62 percent felt the current system is doing only a fair or poor job of preparing graduates for the workforce. Finally, 87 percent of the American public and 83 percent of business leaders said higher education in the United States needs to change to remain competitive with other countries. 

ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2013 (Zhao Yang)

Since 2004, the EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research (ECAR) has surveyed undergraduate students to learn about the technologies that matter most to them. The ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2013 presents findings from the 113,000 survey respondents from 13 countries; the findings are organized around four themes: (1) While students recognize the value of technology, they need guidance for using it in their academic studies; (2) Students prefer blended learning environments while beginning to experiment with MOOCs; (3) Students want to use their mobile devices for academics, but they look to their instructors and institutions about how to best use the technology to enhance their college experience; and (4) Students value their privacy and prefer to keep their social and academic lives separate. For each theme, ECAR provides recommendations for institutions in addressing the needs of the students.   

Performance-Based Funding: The National Landscape (Katie Zaback)

Performance-Based Funding: The National Landscape was released in September 2013 by the University of Alabama Education Policy Center. This issue brief adds to the growing body of literature describing the national picture of performance funding, acknowledging the importance of this practice in light of President Obama’s recent recommendation for improving affordability and quality in postsecondary education. This brief begins by introducing the larger postsecondary landscape and the trends leading to a renewed focus on rewarding educational outcomes. It describes the history of performance funding, identifies states currently utilizing this practice, and provides some specific state examples. Additionally, this report identifies the metrics typically integrated into performance funding formulas, including the common completion metrics identified by the National Governors Association. The report includes recommendations for states as they implement and update their performance funding models, stressing the importance of recognizing existing systems, meeting state needs, dedicating resources, and engaging stakeholders in new performance funding efforts.  

The Federal Pell Grant Program: Recent Growth and Policy Options (Melodie Christal)

The Congressional Budget Office addresses growth in the Pell grant program between 2006-07 and 2011-12 in The Federal Pell Grant Program: Recent Growth and Policy Options. The Federal Pell Grant program was created to improve access of low-income students to postsecondary education with the grants awarded on the basis of financial need and academic course load. From 2006-07 through 2011-12, spending on Pell grants increase by 158 percent, with an 80-percent increase in the number of recipients and a 43-percent increase in the average grant in constant dollars. The report includes an analysis of why the Pell program has increased so dramatically as well as options for changing the program and alternatives to the program.  

Emerging Topics

COMMUNITY COLLEGES: New Federal Research Center May Enhance Current Understanding of Developmental Education

Approximately 42 percent of entering community college students are not sufficiently prepared for college-level courses and enroll in at least one developmental course, according to a report compiled by the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) for the Committee on Education and the Workforce in the U.S. House of Representatives. COMMUNITY COLLEGES: New Federal Research Center May Enhance Current Understanding of Developmental Education (GAO-13-656), addresses strategies selected states and community colleges use to improve developmental education and challenges community college have identified in implementing these strategies.  

The Department of Education plans to fund a new National Research Center on Developmental Education Assessment and Instruction to help policymakers and practitioners improve student outcomes. The research center is expected to launch in 2014.

Published September 10, 2013

Reports and Tools 
 
A Better Higher Education Data and Information Framework for Informing Policy (Katie Zaback)

A Better Higher Education Data and Information Framework for Informing Policy, a report released by HCM Strategists, communicates findings of a diverse group of 18 institutions participating in the Voluntary Institutional Metrics Project. The purpose of this project was to find a “limited but powerful” set of metrics that would benefit states and institutions and better inform the higher education policy debate. The group used a dashboard approach, tracking a select number of key performance indicators. They focused on identifying metrics in five key areas: student loan repayment and default rates; student progression and degree completion; cost per degree; employment outcomes for graduates; and, student learning outcomes. The report evaluates the availability and current utility of each of the measures proposed, putting them into three groups: (1) data were publically available and were input-adjusted (e.g. adjusted based on the characteristics of an institution’s student body); (2) data were collected but required special reports and have not been input-adjusted; and (3) limited or no data were collected and work continues. Data on employment and learning outcomes continue to present the greatest challenges.  

Baccalaureate Attainment: A National View of the Postsecondary Outcomes of Students Who Transfer from Two‐Year to Four-Year Institutions (Zhao Yang)

In the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center’s latest Signature Report, Baccalaureate Attainment: A National View of the Postsecondary Outcomes of Students Who Transfer from Two‐Year to Four-Year Institutions, examines baccalaureate completion and persistence outcomes of two- and four-year transfer students who transfer with and without completing a two-year credential. The report shows more than 60 percent of students who transferred from two-year schools in 2005-06 obtained a degree at a four-year institution and 8 percent were still working on their degree six years after transfer. Baccalaureate rates for students transferring with a two-year degree were higher than the rates for students who transfer before completing their degree. There is also a large positive gain (26 percentage points) in the six-year completion rate for students who transferred to a four-year institution within one year of enrollment at a two-year institution as compared to students who stop out for more than one year.  

The Economic Benefits of Attaining an Associate Degree Before Transfer: Evidence from North Carolina (Melodie Christal)

The Community College Research Center report, The Economic Benefits of Attaining an Associate Degree Before Transfer: Evidence from North Carolina, shows it is beneficial for students initially enrolled in a community college to graduate with an associate degree prior to transferring to a four-year institution. The research is based on students enrolled between 2001 and 2010 in the North Carolina Community College System and looks at student credit hour accumulation, award receipt, and labor market returns. Findings indicate students who complete an associate degree before transferring to a four-year institution save money in tuition costs and make about as much money as their peers who enroll directly in a four-year institution. Students who transfer prior to completing a two-year degree are less likely to complete a bachelor’s degree and leave college without any credentials. 

Program Requirements for Associate’s and Bachelor’s Degrees: A National Survey (Melodie Christal)

Complete College America (CCA) addresses the extent to which program requirements are responsible for students taking longer than necessary to complete their degrees in Program Requirements for Associate’s and Bachelor’s Degrees: A National Survey. Based on a survey of 189 programs at 310 institutions, CCA found most four-year public institutions require 120 credit hours to complete most bachelor’s degree programs with exceptions for fields such as engineering and education, which require additional credit hours. Community colleges typically require 60 hours to complete a general studies associate’s degree, while career-oriented or program-specific associate’s degrees require more, with wide variations among institutions. The authors conclude program requirements are only a small part of the reason students take longer than necessary to complete their degrees and encourage institutions, states, and accrediting organizations to evaluate programs to ensure the majority are at the normal length (i.e., 60 or 120 hours). They also recommend higher education leaders focus on other sources of extended time and credit hours such as courses with high failure or withdrawal rates, imperfect transfer of credits, and changes in majors.  

How Americans Pay for College (Katie Zaback)

In How Americans Pay for College, Sally Mae details the findings of its sixth annual survey of students and parents that examines the amount students and their parents pay for college, funding sources, and attitude toward college and funding college. This year’s results show students and parents becoming more cost sensitive in their college selection, often removing colleges from their set of choices due to cost. Since 2010, all income groups have reduced how much they spend on college overall. Additionally, the parents’ financial contribution to their children’s college costs is steadily declining and student borrowing is increasing to make up for this deficit. Grants and scholarships are now the largest source of college funding. Despite these trends, students and their parents continue to believe the investment in a college education is worthwhile.  

State Outlook: Fiscal and State Policy Issues Affecting Postsecondary Education (Melodie Christal)

AASCU’s (American Association of State Colleges and Universities) July 2013 State Outlook: Fiscal and State Policy Issues Affecting Postsecondary Education reports on the current economic climate of the nation and states and fiscal year 2014 funding for higher education. The State Outlook report also highlights higher education policies and initiatives from states’ 2013 legislative sessions. 

VA Education Benefits: Student Characteristics and Outcomes Vary across Schools (Zhao Yang)

The U.S Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, VA Education Benefits: Student Characteristics and Outcomes Vary across Schools, summarizes results from a review of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) education programs. The 2008 Post-9/11 GI Bill significantly increased education benefits for veterans providing for tuition and fees, housing expenses, and books such that in FY2012, about $11 billion in education payments were made to almost 1 million veterans. In its review, GAO analyzed the distribution of VA education payments among schools; how student characteristics and outcomes at highly VA-funded schools compare to those at other VA-funded schools; and how student characteristics and outcomes compare at highly VA-funded public, nonprofit, and for-profit schools. About 5 percent of schools (654) account for more than $3.8 billion of VA-education payments in FY2011 with for-profit schools receiving a higher proportion of Post-9/11 GI Bill tuition and fee payments as compared to all VA education programs. Highly VA-funded schools generally had more positive outcomes than other VA-funded schools in term of retention and graduation. However, when separated into public, nonprofit and for-profit schools, the results differ greatly. For example, highly VA-funded for-profit schools enroll a higher percentage of low-income and minority students. After controlling for differences in school and student characteristics, for-profit schools had lower retention rates compared to public and nonprofit schools, but graduation rates were higher than public schools and similar to nonprofit schools.  

The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2013 (Melodie Christal)

ACT has released its annual report, The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2013. Using ACT College Readiness Benchmarks and test scores, the report provides snapshots of college readiness for 2013 high school graduates for the nation and each state. In addition to the national report, individual state reports are also available. 

National Center for Education Statistics (Melodie Christal)

The NCES First Look 2011-12 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS:12) Financial Aid Estimates for 2011-12 presents select findings about student financial aid from NPSAS:12, a nationally representative survey of 95,000 undergraduates and 16,000 graduate students. The primary purpose of NPSAS:12 is to measure how students pay for postsecondary education, with a focus on the federal student aid provided through Title IV. The initial findings indicate 71 percent of undergraduates receive some type of financial aid with 57 percent receiving federal student aid. The average amount of aid among those who receive aid was $10,800.  

NCES also released a revision to the NPSAS:08 data files to reflect the re-weighting of the data to match weighting protocols used in NPSAS:12.  The revised dataset is available in PowerStats. 

Policy Watch (Christine Keller) 

Gainful Employment Draft Released

The U.S. Department of Education released draft language for a proposed new "gainful employment" rule on August 30 to replace the earlier version that was blocked by a federal court in June 2012. The draft regulation will be part of negotiated rule-making beginning September 9. Resources with more details on the draft rule include:

  • A document comparing the new and old version prepared by the Department of Education.
  • An analysis prepared by The New America Foundation, a Washington D.C. public policy institute.  

Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) Version 4 Open for Comments

The draft of the Version 4 Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) has been released for public comment.  All are encouraged to review the draft standards and submit comments by September 20, 2013, via the CEDS website. There are over 200 proposed new V4 elements, as well as some updated elements from the previous version of CEDS.  In total, the proposed CEDS Version 4 includes over 1,300 unduplicated elements.

Published August 13, 2013

Reports and Tools

Measuring Post-Traditional Student Success: Institutions Making Progress, but Challenges Remain (Melodie Christal)

Based on a survey of 75 public and private institutions, UPCEA (University Professional and Continuing Education Association) reports in Measuring Post-Traditional Student Success: Institutions Making Progress, but Challenges Remain that more colleges are tracking retention and graduation rates of nontraditional students  and have developed a good understanding of the key factors contributing to attrition for these students. Survey respondents indicated their primary concern was a lack of benchmark data on nontraditional students to evaluate the effectiveness of their efforts to increase student persistence and success rates. Three obstacles to establishing benchmark data were cited: lack of consensus on definitions and metrics; lack of coordination among colleges, policymakers, accreditors and others to establish benchmarks; and inadequate resources at institutions. Based on these findings, UPCEA recommends that institutions collaborate “to share data and forge a common voice for advocating both within institutions and across the industry for the resources and attention required to tackle these important issues.”

Online College Students 2013: Comprehensive Data on Demands and Preferences (Melodie Christal)

In Online College Students 2013: Comprehensive Data on Demands and Preferences, The Learning House, Inc. reports findings from their second annual survey of 1,500 former, current, and future students enrolled in fully online undergraduate or graduate programs. The survey covered topics such as the perceived value of an online degree, factors students consider when choosing an institution, motivation for online study, preferred mode of study, and marketing to online students. The report also includes recommendations for developing online programs. About two-thirds of online students attend not-for-profit institutions with an overwhelming majority preferring academic terms from between six to 12 weeks, instead of the traditional 15-week term. Online students report that reputation is an important factor in selecting an institution with reputation based on accreditation, quality of faculty, and personal acquaintances with other attendees. Business is the most popular field of study for both undergraduate and graduate students. The report notes that respondents who completed their program consider it a good investment of time and money, with many finding new jobs or receiving raises and promotions.

Recovery: Job Growth and Education Requirements through 2010 (Melodie Christal)

The new Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce report, Recovery: Job Growth and Education Requirements through 2010, notes the economy will create 55 million new job openings in the next decade with four of the five fastest-growing occupations—healthcare professional, STEM, education, and community services—requiring high levels of postsecondary education. The skills in demand will be leadership, communication, analytics and administration. The report suggests that without major changes to postsecondary education, there will be a shortfall of 5 million workers with postsecondary credentials by 2020.The report shows the occupations that are growing or declining in each state and the level of education needed for the occupations.

Annual Survey Report on State-Sponsored Financial Aid (Melodie Christal)

The National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs (NASSGAP) Annual Survey Report provides data on 2011-12 state-funded expenditures for postsecondary student financial aid. In 2011-12, states awarded approximately $11.1 billion in state-funded financial aid, a 1.8 percent increase from the prior year in constant dollars.  The majority of aid was awarded in the form of grants: 74 percent of the grants were need-based and 26 percent were nonneed-based. States provided more than $1.7 billion in nongrant student aid, including loans, work study, and tuition waivers, down almost 4 percent from last year. Loans and tuition waivers accounted for 76 percent of nongrant funds awarded.  Additional resources are available on the NASSGAP website. A State Data Quick Check tool shows expenditures by programs for a selected year and an online tool allows for customized queries of survey data.

2013 Higher Education Technology Survey (Zhao Yang)

Technology is a critical resource on college campuses, and chief information officers (CIO) are responsible for maintaining, improving, and securing the information technology functions in a rapidly changing environment. The CONSERO Group report,  2013 Higher Education Technology Survey, presents survey results of CIOs from 41 colleges and universities across the United States. Over one-half (54 percent) of the respondents are members of their institution’s senior management staff (e.g., president’s cabinet). The report covers issues such as business decision-making, budget changes, outcome measurement criteria, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies, and data security. Although data security is a critical focus for CIOs, only 39 percent reported their institution has a chief information security officer and 10 percent of the respondents reported having a data security breach in the past 12 months. Other survey highlights indicate 61 percent of the institutions do not currently have a BYOD policy and only 22 percent of the IT departments oversee or report academic assessment or outcome measures.

Early College, Early Success (Melodie Christal)

In Early College, Early Success, the American Institutes for Research presents results from research on the Early College High School Initiative (ECHSI) funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The ECHSI engages underserved high school students in a rigorous curriculum and provides them the opportunity to earn college credit as a means to motivate them to enroll in postsecondary education after high school. A study of 10 Early Colleges found 86 percent of Early College students graduated from high school compared with 81 percent of a comparison group. The Early College students were also more likely to enroll in college and earn a college degree. The Early College impact on high school graduation and college enrollment did not differ significantly based on gender, ethnicity and race, first-generation college-going, or family income, suggesting the Early Colleges mitigate educational attainment gaps between advantaged and disadvantaged students.

Emerging Topics

Effectiveness and Efficiency in Promoting Timely Degree Completion (Christine Keller)

The Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC) recently announced an alternative method for measuring institutional effectiveness and efficiency. Effectiveness is defined as the difference between an institution’s actual graduation rate and a predicted rate based on the institution’s structural attributes, students served, and geographical context. This measure of effectiveness is then compared to institutional expenditures to derive an indicator of efficiency.

MHEC is a non-profit regional organization, established by compact statute, to assist Midwestern states in advancing higher education through interstate cooperation and resource sharing.

In Debt and In the Dark: It’s Time for Better Information on Student Loan Defaults (Zhao Yang)

In Debt and In the Dark: It’s Time for Better Information on Student Loan Defaults, a report by Education Sector, recommends tracking and reporting student loan default rates as a way for the federal government to better monitor institutional accountability and how well taxpayer dollars are spent. The proposed accountability metric uses a three-year default rate, adjusted by two risk factors (percentages of Pell Grants and part-time students), to provide a predicted default rate. The default rate is then paired with the institution’s graduation rate of first-time, full-time degree-seeking students to measure institutional accomplishments. Institutions where default rates exceed graduation rates should “set off a red flag” for prospective student borrowers. Education Sector recommends using loan default rates as an accountability measure for two reasons: (1) the rates are objective and quantifiable, and (2) they are difficult for institutions to manipulate.

Policy Watch

Supporting Academic Freedom through Regulatory Relief Act (Christine Keller)

A bill designed to reduce the regulatory burden on higher education through the repeal of several federal regulations was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on July 10, 2013. H.R. 2637, the Supporting Academic Freedom through Regulatory Relief Act, would repeal existing regulations related to state authorization, definition of credit hour, gainful employment, and other regulations. The bill also would prohibit the U.S. Department of Education from promulgating rules defining credit hours at any time in the future, and from issuing regulations for state authorization or gainful employment until after Congress reauthorizes the Higher Education Act (HEA). 

Published July 10, 2013 

Reports and Tools (summaries of resources and research useful to IR professionals) 

Supporting Latino Community College Students: An Investment in Our Economic Future

Supporting Latino Community College Students: An Investment in Our Economic Future, a report from Exelencia in Education and Single Stop USA, examines obstacles to Latino degree completion and outlines recommendations for moving these students through the education pipeline and into successful careers. According to the report, low degree attainment among Latinos is a result of several challenges including college cost, limited knowledge about college, increased family responsibilities, and the need to work while attending college. The report recommends that state policymakers target appropriations to incentivize colleges to better coordinate student services aligned with retention, completion, and employment outcomes. The report also proposes targeting information about financial aid by developing dissemination strategies to more effectively reach Latinos and other low income students. 

Work Readiness Standards and Benchmarks

In the report, Work Readiness Standards and Benchmarks, ACT defines work readiness and the types and levels of skills needed to succeed in the workplace. ACT has tracked skill needs in the workforce for over 20 years and has compiled an extensive job skills database. According to ACT, workforce readiness is defined by an individual’s ability to read and locate information, think critically, and solve problems by applying mathematical solutions. Workers' soft skills are also important indicators of workforce readiness, such as the ability to cooperate and adapt to new situations. The report also describes specific factors important for an individual to experience success in the workplace throughout a lifetime. 

Hard Times: College Majors, Unemployment and Earnings

The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce released its second annual edition of Hard Times: College Majors, Unemployment and Earnings. The report indicates that recent college graduates continue to have difficulty finding jobs in the slow economic recovery, but unemployment rates have dropped to 7.9 percent (2010), compared to the 8.9 percent (2009) unemployment rate cited in the first edition of Hard Times. The report includes data on unemployment rates and earnings by various college majors and degree types. 

The Price of a Science PhD: Variations in Student Debt Levels Across Disciplines and Race/Ethnicity

The American Institutes for Research issue brief, The Price of A Science PhD: Variations in Student Debt Levels Across Disciplines and Race/Ethnicity, uses data from the Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED) to examine the debt level among STEM PhD recipients. The study looks at how debt differs by race/ethnicity and gender and compares debt of STEM Ph.D.s with the debt of Ph.D.s in the social, behavioral, and economic (SBE) sciences. 

Condition of Education 2013

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Condition of Education 2013 (NCES 2013-037) presents 42 indicators on the status and condition of education covering all levels of education from early childhood through postsecondary education. This year’s report spotlights four issues of current interest: (1) trends in employment rates by educational attainment; (2) kindergarten entry status; (3) rural education; and (4) financing postsecondary education. 

Emerging Topics (information on developing ideas and discussions from the field)  

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

The dramatic increase in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), presents researchers, faculty, administrators, and policy makers with a range of questions about the effectiveness of this format of teaching and learning. The impact of MOOCs is not widely known and has been largely disseminated through press releases and university reports.

  • The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are funding the MOOC Research Initiative as part of a set of investments intended to explore the potential of MOOCs to extend access to postsecondary credentials through more personalized, more affordable pathways.” Grants of $10,000 to $25,000 will be awarded in August 2013 to help provide more peer-review research on their effectiveness and impact on student learning.
  • According to a recent nationwide survey of public attitudes about MOOCs, many people outside of higher education have never heard of MOOCs. Only 23 percent of the respondents reported they were familiar with MOOCs and 4 percent reported they were very familiar with them. The survey showed significant differences in attitudes toward MOOCs among parents, students, alumni, donors and employers. The survey was conducted on behalf of Brodeur Partners.

Top-Ten IT Issues, 2013: Welcome to the Connected Age

In the May/June 2013 EDUCAUSE Review, Educause presents its annual Top Ten IT Issues for higher education and a set of strategic questions for each issue. “Leveraging the wireless and device explosions on campus” is listed as the top issue. “Using analytics to support critical institutional outcomes” was also identified in the top ten list as institutions increasingly need data to better understand challenges around student success, affordability, and access so they can develop appropriate public policies. Funding information technology strategically was also included in the top ten.

Policy Watch (alerts readers to national policy news and topics that may warrant attention)  

College Affordability and Transparency Lists Updated for 2013

The College Affordability and Transparency Center was updated on June 28 with the 2013 iteration of the College Affordability and Transparency Lists, and the information is now publicly available. As stipulated by the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, the website provides information about tuition and net prices at postsecondary institutions, including institutions with high and low tuition and fees as well as high and low net prices. It also shows which institutions have tuition and fees and net prices that are increasing at the highest rates.  

Student Achievement Measure (SAM) Project Launched

Six higher education associations announced a joint project - the Student Achievement Measure (SAM) - on June 24. The SAM metric will allow colleges and universities to deliver a more complete picture of student progress along the path to earning a college degree or certificate. Institutions can sign up to participate in the project through the SAM website. Each participating college or university will begin to post its own student achievement measures on the website in fall 2013.  

Supreme Court Ruling: Affirmative Action

On June 24, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling on affirmative action but did not offer a definitive opinion on whether colleges may consider the use of race in admissions. Instead, it faulted the appeals court for not applying "strict scrutiny" for the consideration of race and sent the case back to the lower court. The Supreme Court opinion reaffirmed that colleges must meet the requirements previously given by the court to justify the use of race in admissions. For more information, visit the Inside Higher Ed website or the UTAustin website.

Published June 11, 2013

The Next Generation University (Sean McKitrick)

In The Next Generation University, the New America Foundation (a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy institute in Washington DC) explores the future of public higher education. The New America Foundation challenges public institutions to find a different approach to educate an increasingly diverse population of students at a reasonable cost. Their report showcases six public institutions which have demonstrated a commitment to research as well as expanding enrollment and increasing graduation rates, even as state-level revenues are declining. New America selected the six institutions based on an analysis of federal data, campus visits, and independent research. The report concludes with recommendations for institutions, states, and the federal government for creating “The Next Generation University.” 

Preparing Students for College (Melodie Christal)

Using data from the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 (HSLS:09), the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) provides information on what high schools are doing to help students transition to postsecondary education in Preparing for College: What High Schools are Doing and How Their Actions Influence Ninth Graders’ College Attitudes, Aspirations, and Plans. Part I of the report addresses college-level courses, school counselors’ attitudes and how their time is used, and students’ interactions with their counselors. Part II outlines things counselors can do to help their students successfully transition to college.  

Term Enrollment Estimates Fall 2012 (Melodie Christal)

The National Student Clearinghouse issued a report in May 2013 addressing enrollment trends over the last three years. According to the report, fall 2012 enrollment was down 1.8 percent from fall 2011, and spring 2013 enrollment declined 2.3 percent from the prior year. An analysis of enrollment from fall to spring terms over the last three years shows the fall attrition rate has been increasing. This phenomenon is occurring across every sector of higher education and in every region of the country. 

This report is the first in a series of current term enrollment reports to be published by the Clearinghouse each December and May. More than 3,400 colleges and universities, enrolling over 96% of all students in public and private U.S. institutions, submit enrollment data to the Clearinghouse. Since the Clearinghouse collects data at the student level, the data allow for reporting unduplicated headcounts. Approximately 2 percent of students enroll at more than one institution.  

What Does It Really Mean to Be College and Work Ready? (Melodie Christal)

In What Does It Really Mean to Be College and Work Ready?, The National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) investigates the level of mathematics and English literacy required for high school graduates to be successful in the first year of a community college program. Some of the findings are counter to widely held opinions. For example, many community college career programs require math skills primarily at the middle school level. The reading skill levels required in initial courses are between the level of grade 11 and grade 12. Despite these levels, the failure rates for initial mathematics and English courses at many community colleges remain significant.  While some may call for raising the standards in community colleges, NCEE suggests the first step should be to ensure all high school students can succeed within the current community college standards before standards are raised. 

National Center for Education Statistics (Sean McKitrick)In the Web Tables report, Today’s Baccalaureate: The Fields and Courses That 2007–08 Bachelor’s Degree Recipients Studied  (NCES 2013-755), NCES provides data from the Postsecondary Education Transcript Study (PETS) and the 2008/09 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study (B&B:08/09) on the various fields and courses in which students enroll. The report includes data on courses in many different fields, including STEM, and information about bachelor degree recipients’ course taking behaviors, such as the 30 courses in which graduates most frequently earned credits.In the First Look publication, Postsecondary Institutions and Cost of Attendance in 2012-13; Degrees and Other Awards Conferred, 2011-12; and 12-Month Enrollment, 2011-12 (NCES 2013-289), NCES presents preliminary data from the Fall 2012 IPEDS data collection including the cost of attendance, degrees granted in the United States, and 12-month enrollment. Among the findings, the report states average tuition and required fees increased from 2010-11 to 2012-13 in public and nonprofit four-year institutions, while it decreased at for-profit, four-year institutions. The report also notes approximately 29 million students were enrolled in 2011-12, including 25.2 million undergraduate students and 3.8 graduate students.  

Policy Watch 

Higher Education Act Reauthorization (Carol Fuller and Melodie Christal)

In preparation for the upcoming reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, The Committee on Education and the Workforce are exploring issues affecting students, families, and postsecondary institutions including: (1) empowering students as consumers; (2) simplifying and improving student aid and loan programs; (3) encouraging institutions to reduce costs; (4) increasing accessibility, affordability, and completion; (5) promoting innovation to improve access and delivery of higher education; and (6) balancing the need for accountability with the burden of federal requirements. The Committee is requesting feedback on these and other issues by August 2, 2013.  

Proposed Legislation for Higher Education Reporting (Patricia Gregg)

On May 9, Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced the Student Right to Know Before You Go Act of 2013 - bipartisan legislation aimed at providing a wider range of comparative information about colleges for students and families.  The proposed data would include information not currently available on a national scale, such as graduation rates for non-traditional students, transfer rates, student debt, and post-graduation outcomes such as employment, earning, and pursuit of higher levels of education.   The legislation seeks to streamline institutional reporting requirements by gathering some data at the student record level.   

Student Financial Aid Requirements (Carol Fuller and Melodie Christal)

The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released the Higher Education report, Experts Cited a Range of Requirements as Burdensome (GAO-13-371). This report looks at which student financial aid requirements under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, are the most burdensome for postsecondary institutions. 

Applying for Title IV Eligibility for Direct Assessment (Competency-Based) Programs (Sean McKitrick)

The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) outlined procedures institutions must follow for students to have access to Title IV funds if the institution wishes to use direct (or competency-based) assessments in lieu of credit or clock hours. These procedures are included in a March 19, 2013 DOE “Dear Colleague” letter and specify institutions must submit an application to the DOE as part of the application process and provide documentation from their accrediting agencies or state licensing bodies.  

Published May 6, 2013

Rethinking Pell Grants (Zhao Yang)

In Rethinking Pell Grants, The College Board Advocacy and Policy Center presents recommendations for strengthening the Pell Grant program and increasing the benefits it provides to both students and society as a whole. A study group, convened by the College Board and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Lumina Foundation, focused on designing a system to use financial aid as effectively as possible. Recognizing the Pell Grant program serves multiple populations with different educational and career goals, the report outlines two paths for the program – Pell Y for younger students and Pell A for older adults – to better meet the differing needs of young people growing up in low- and moderate-income families and of older adults returning to school to improve their job/career opportunities. The study group recommended the federal government simplify the financial aid application process and eligibility determination, support award levels based on the number of credits in which students are enrolled, establish financial incentives for colleges that do the best job of helping Pell recipients complete their academic programs, and create educational accounts to help children from low-income families pay for their college expenses.   

Improving Postsecondary Education through the State Budget Process: Challenges and Opportunities (Ellen Peters)

The National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO) report, Improving Postsecondary Education through the State Budget Process: Challenges and Opportunities, presents both the current status of higher education finance and opportunities for improving it from the perspective of state budget officers. While the current system may have worked well in the past, fiscal changes at the federal and state levels and in the private market make reform necessary to keep college affordable and raise student success. Specific strategies and recommendations include restricting tuition increases, tying funding to performance and results, creating incentives for improving access, increasing cost-efficiency and productivity, and making information about postsecondary spending more transparent. The report concludes that the current economic and political climate creates an opportunity for higher education officials and policymakers to work closely together to reform postsecondary funding systems.   

Metrics, Dollars, and Systems Change (Ellen Peters)

Metrics, Dollars, and Systems Change: Learning from Washington State’s Student Achievement Initiative to Design Effective Postsecondary Performance Funding Policies, a policy brief from the Community College Research Center, summarizes lessons learned in developing, implementing, and monitoring a performance funding system. Suggested recommendations include: (1) measure what states consider to be most important; (2) develop metrics targeted toward individual institutional goals; (3) use fiscal incentives to motivate change, phase in consequences to allow for learning and adjustments, and provide technical assistance for colleges that need it; and (4) measure an institution’s improvement in performance against its own historical baseline rather than against the performance of other colleges. By highlighting what has worked in the state of Washington’s performance funding system, the brief provides policymakers in other states a possible blueprint for increasing postsecondary productivity and student success.  

Demography as Destiny: Policy Considerations in Enrollment Management (Ellen Peters)

The Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education (WICHE) April 2013 Policy Insights report, Demography as Destiny: Policy Considerations in Enrollment Management, summarizes the main findings from WICHE’s eighth edition of Knocking at the College Door: Projections of High School Graduates. The Demography as Destiny report looks at changes in the size and racial/ethnic composition of high school graduates in the context of the college completion agenda and the need for greater educational attainment. It also addresses how the demographic changes and fiscal stress impact enrollment management. The report concludes by offering reflections on how policymakers and institutional leaders can respond to these challenges with policies and practices that align with society's rising needs and expectations for higher education. 

AAUP Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession (Melodie Christal)

Each year, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) collects salary and benefit data for full-time instructional faculty from colleges and universities through the AAUP Faculty Compensation Survey. The report Here’s the News: The Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession, 2012-13, presents the most recent survey results. In addition to the salary data, the report addresses three “perennial problems,” including the continuing rise in the number of non-tenure-track faculty, the decline in state appropriations for higher education, and growing pay differentials between the public and private sectors. The main report, addressing trends in full-time faculty compensation over the past year, is available to all readers. The report's appendices, which includes salary and compensation data at specific institutions, is available only to AAUP members.

National Center for Education Statistics (Bruce Mentzer)

Federal Student Loan Debt Burden of Noncompleters (NCES 2013-155), a Statistics in Brief publication, focuses on the median federal student debt accrued by students not completing a postsecondary credential within six years after enrolling. The study is based on NCES longitudinal data from the two most recent cohorts of beginning postsecondary students (1995-96 and 2003-04). The study addresses three questions: (1) How prevalent is noncompletion and at what rate did noncompleters borrow from federal student loan programs? (2) How did the rate and amount of borrowing and how did employment rates differ between completers and noncompleters? (3) What was the median cumulative federal debt for noncompleters relative to their income and what percentage of noncompleters had a federal debt burden 100% or higher of their annual income?

The NCES Technical Report, The Adult Training and Education Survey (ATES) Pilot Study (NCES 2013-190), describes the process and findings of a pilot test of survey items developed to assess the prevalence and characteristics of certifications/licenses and subbaccalaureate educational certificates in the U.S. adult population. 

Policy Watch

Distance Education (Melodie Christal)
The Commission on the Regulation of Postsecondary Distance Education was established to develop recommendations to address the cost and issues postsecondary institutions face in complying with state laws and regulations in providing distance education. In the report Advancing Access through Regulatory Reform: Findings, Principles, and Recommendations for the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA), the Commission proposes a plan for interstate reciprocity based on voluntary participation of colleges and universities.  

New State Spending Charts Available from the Department of Education (Christine Keller)

The Department of Education released the newest State Spending Charts on April 5. Per the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA), the state spending charts feature summary information on changes in state appropriations for postsecondary education, state aid for students, and tuition and fees. These charts include annual percentage changes for data spanning 2005-06 through 2010-11. 

College for America (Christine Keller)

In April, the U.S. Department of Education approved Southern New Hampshire University's (SNHU) College for America (CfA).  CfA will be the first program in the country to receive federal financial aid based on "direct assessment" of learning, rather than the credit hour. The New America Foundation discusses the significance of this decision in their April 18 blog post.

Published April 8, 2013

State Higher Education Finance FY 2012 (Katie Zaback)

The State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) released State Higher Education Finance FY 2012  documenting state and national trends in educational appropriations, tuition revenue, and enrollment over the last 25 years. The report is intended to help higher education leaders and state policymakers focus on how discrete, year-to-year decisions fit into broader patterns of change over time, and to help them make decisions in the coming years. In 2012, the effects of the 2008 recession continued with total state and local support at $81.2 billion–down 7 percent from 2011. Although enrollment stabilized in 2012 at 11.5 percent, the reduction in state and local support, combined with an increase in inflation, contributed to a 9-percent decrease from 2011 to 2012 in state and local support per student in constant dollars. Per-student support in 2012 is $5,896, the lowest level in the 25 years shown in the report. Net tuition revenue per student reached $5,189 in 2012, an all-time high. Over the past 25 years, the percentage of educational revenue supported by tuition has climbed steadily from 23.3 percent in 1987 to 47.0 percent in 2012. Despite tuition increases, total educational revenue (net tuition plus state and local funding) per student dropped by 8 percent in constant dollars, from $12,067 in 2008 to $11,085 in 2012.  

Reimagining Aid Design and Delivery Project (Katie Zaback)

As part of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Reimagining Aid Design and Delivery project, 16 organizations have released reports recommending changes to the major financial aid programs, information provided to students, and measures on which colleges are held accountable. Some of the recommendations are shared across the 16 organizations and some are contradictory. To assist in understanding the reports, the Chronicle of Higher Education has created a chart for their subscribers that provides a comparison of key topics in the 16 reports.  The State Higher Education Executive Officers’ (SHEEO) website also provides links to the individual RADD reports. Additionally, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) has a matrix that compares the policy recommendations of each paper. Within the papers there is agreement that the financial aid system is broken, but there is less agreement about what needs to be done to fix it. A number of factors influence this divergence, primarily different beliefs about the purpose of the financial aid system and a lack of data that allows policy analysts to research the system fully. Financial aid will likely receive increasing scrutiny as tuition increases and alternative support for higher education declines.     

Doing Better for More Students:  Putting Student Outcomes at the Center of Federal Financial Aid (Patricia Gregg and Tom Martin)

HCM Strategists charged a technical panel to examine the federal financial aid system and develop innovative policies to respond to today’s fiscal, economic, and demographic realities. Results from this eight-month study are presented in Doing Better for More Students: Putting Student Outcomes at the Center of Federal Financial Aid. The report begins with the premise that the current financial aid system was “built for a different age” and provides a summary of federal student aid policy. It then examines obstacles policymakers should address to provide a more effective student aid program focused on improving student outcomes. The report offers four policy options intended to work together to provide a comprehensive, more financially sustainable financial aid system: (1) Simplify student financial aid to have a single grant program and a single loan program; (2) Simplify the federal tax credit for higher education; (3) Promote a shared responsibility for completion with students and institutions. (4) Spend a portion of the federal aid budget on demonstration programs that spur innovation and experimentation. Specific proposals are detailed, including three sample programs: Pell-Ready Grant, Competency-Based Higher Education, and Performance Contract. The narrative report is followed by 11 extensive data tables outlining anticipated costs and benefits of the proposed reform options. 

Recent Deep State Higher Education Cuts May Harm Students and the Economy for Years to Come (Mary McLean-Scanlon)

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report, Recent Deep State Higher Education Cuts Harm Students and the Economy for Years to Come, argues the economic downturn and states’ hesitance to raise funds is having profound negative effects on higher education. Across the nation, states are spending almost a third less per student on higher education in 2013 than they did in 2008. When states cut funding, colleges and universities have essentially two choices: increase tuition or cut spending. As a case in point, four-year public college tuition has increased 27 percent since the 2008 school year and student aid has not always covered the increase. To reduce spending, institutions have cut faculty positions, eliminated course offerings, closed campuses, and reduced student services. The report concludes such cuts will have consequences for the quality of education at the very time when the economic importance of higher education is the highest it has ever been for the nation. The authors assert that states need to consider these repercussions of higher education spending cuts and create responsible modes of addressing them.  With the economic importance of higher education higher than ever, taking a closer look at the deficits created by decreased funding for higher education is needed. The authors suggest that states need to consider the repercussions of higher education spending cuts and create responsible modes of addressing them.  

A Matter of Degrees: The Effect of Educational Attainment on Regional Economic Prosperity (Tom Martin)

The Milikin Institute report, A Matter of Degrees: The Effect of Educational Attainment on Regional Economic Prosperity uses a dataset linking educational attainment and occupational trends by region over 30 years to assess the relationship between education and a region’s economic performance. Key findings include that education increases regional prosperity--the better educated the worker, the greater the benefit is to the worker and the region. The authors conclude with five recommendations: (1) Make higher education more affordable; (2) Make higher education more accessible; (3) Increase graduation rates; (4) Strengthen coordination between higher education and the employment sector; (5) Promote more research and development. 

Adaptability to Online Learning: Differences Across Types of Students and Academic Subject Areas (Jim Lynch)

The Community College Research Center (CCRC) study, Adaptability to Online Learning: Differences Across Types of Students and Academic Subject Areas, reports students enrolled in face-to-face courses achieve higher retention rates and better grade-point averages compared to students enrolled in online courses; furthermore, black students, males, younger students, and students with poor academic records were more susceptible to weaker performance in online courses. The study suggests postsecondary institutions need to take a hard look at how to improve the quality of the online course experience, ensuring that “learning outcomes are equal to those of face-to-face courses, regardless of the composition of the students enrolled…” Colleges must prepare students to take online courses, especially during their formative exposure to distance education – for example, a growing number of institutions require students to take a prerequisite online learning tutorial to ensure they are prepared to enroll in online courses.  

The College Decision-Making Process: A Survey of Parents of 5th - 12th-Grade Students (Patricia Gregg)

Inside Higher Ed and Gallup have released The College Decision-Making Process: A Survey of Parents of 5th - 12th Grade Students (March 2013). The survey addresses questions about the process parents go through in making or influencing where their children will attend college. Telephone interviews were conducted with a random sample of over 3,000 parents in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Parents responding to the survey indicated the most important reason for their child to get education beyond high school was to get a good job. However, nearly half (47%) of those surveyed believed there might be ways other than college that would lead to a good job. The majority of parents reported they were likely to restrict the colleges to which their children could apply based on tuition and fees. Survey findings also address affirmative action and acceptable levels of student loan debt. The report breaks out responses for parents of younger (5th-8th grade) and older (9th-12th grade) students and by demographics or family income levels where germane to the question. 

Policy Watch

Proposed Changes for the IPEDS 2014-15 Data Collections Open for Comment until May 13, 2013   

The 60-day comment period for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 IPEDS data collections is open and can be accessed through the Federal Register website (Federal Register Volume 78, Number 50, Pages 16259-16260). Details on the proposed changes can be found in Part A of the Supporting Statements posted on the regulations website. Comments should be submitted through this site and are due by May 13, 2013.

Published March 12, 2013

Completing College: A State-Level View of Student Attainment Rates (Christine Keller)

The National Student Clearinghouse released Completing College: A State-Level View of Student Attainment Rates – a supplement to their national study on college completion. The report offers a state-by-state look at the various pathways students take to complete a college degree or certificate. The report is based on student-level data made available to the Clearinghouse by more than 3,300 colleges and universities, and includes nearly 97 percent of students attending public and private nonprofit postsecondary institutions. Among the study’s state-level findings: In Minnesota, 27 percent of students who started at a four-year public university in fall 2006 completed their degree at a different institution. One in five students in Virginia who started at a two-year public institution completed at a four-year institution within six years. In Alaska, 28 percent of students who started at a four-year public institution and later graduated had earned that credential in a different institution and in a different state.  

Doing Away With Debt: Using Existing Resources to Ensure College Affordability for Low and Middle-Income Families (Susan Gracia)

In Doing Away With Debt: Using Existing Resources to Ensure College Affordability for Low and Middle-Income Families, Education Trust proposes a redesign of the financial aid system to increase college completion, reduce student debt, and close the opportunity and attainment gaps. The authors argue the current system is outdated and does not adequately address the college affordability challenges brought on in part by growth in tuition and fees and changing student demographics. The proposed redesign would keep the Pell grant program intact and consolidate other federal programs to provide state grants that can be targeted to needy students and colleges.  

The College Completion Agenda: 2012 Progress Report (Christine Keller)

The College Board Advocacy & Policy Center’s The College Completion Agenda: 2012 Progress Report and updated website summarize progress toward the national goal to increase the proportion of young adults holding a postsecondary credential to 55 percent by 2025. The report provides a brief overview and highlights selected statistics while the updated website offers more detailed information on indicators, national summaries, and the ability to create state comparisons across all education levels from preschool to college. The report findings show some progress has been made toward reaching the national goal. For example, between 2008 and 2010, the overall number of degrees increased over 257,000 with the greatest increases in associate and baccalaureate degrees. The U.S. ranking has improved from 16th place out of 36 nations to 14th place in terms of the percentage of 25- to 34-year-olds with an associate degree or higher.

America’s Call for Higher Education Redesign (Susan Gracia)

The Lumina Foundation and Gallup report, America’s Call for Higher Education Redesign, presents results from a telephone survey of 1,009 adults in U.S. households. The objective of the study was to determine perceptions of the general American population about higher education issues including degree attainment, quality and value, costs, and innovative learning models. The findings indicate although Americans believe higher education is important and a college degree provides financial and job security, there are barriers to enrollment and degree completion such as family demands and the high cost of tuition and fees. Interviewees encouraged colleges and universities to rethink outdated ideas about who students are, how to educate them in this technological age, and how to assess what students have learned. The findings suggest Americans are open to new ways for making higher education accessible and affordable.

Mega-States: An Analysis of Student Performance in the Five Most Heavily Populated States in the Nation (Zhao Yang) 

The National Center for Education (NCES) report, Mega-States: An Analysis of Student Performance in the Five Most Heavily Populated States in the Nation (NCES 2013-450), provides information on the performance of public elementary and secondary students in the five most populated states: California, Florida, Illinois, New York, and Texas. Students in these five states comprise close to 40 percent of the nation’s public school students – many of whom will eventually enter the higher education system. These states are at the forefront of U.S. demographic shifts, serving more than half of the nation’s English language learners and large concentrations of children from lower-income families. They also foreshadow upcoming challenges for colleges and universities on how to best serve these populations. The report provides an in-depth look into the performance of specific student groups and performance by subject, including academic performance over time and in the most recent assessments. 

2012 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments (Zhao Yang)

The 2012 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments (2012 NCSE) is available for purchase from the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO). Selected tables are available free on the NACUBO website. The 2012 NCSE results are based on 831 U.S. college and university endowments and affiliated foundations, representing over $406 billion in endowment assets. The tables list endowment market values, percentage changes, average and median annual net investment return, and one-, three-, and 10-year annual returns for the periods ending past year, as well as asset allocation and average annual spending rates.   

Policy Watch

Department of Education Releases College Scorecard (Jeff Johnson)  

The U.S. Department of Education College Affordability and Transparency Center released its new College Scorecard on February 13. The scorecard provides an institution's net price, graduation rate, loan default rate, and median student loan burden. Employment information is not currently available but is planned for the future. Data is drawn from both IPEDS and NSLDS. The public interface allows browsing by institution and searching on several common criteria.

Carnegie Foundation Community Engagement Classification (Zhao Yang)

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching invites institutions with a focus on community engagement to apply for the elective Community Engagement classification. This classification was first offered in 2006 and allows institutions to describe their identity and commitment to community with a nationally recognized classification. For more information about the application process, see the Carnegie website.  Applications are available from May 1-July 1, 2013, and are due on April 15, 2014.   

Published February 11, 2013
 
Knocking at the College Door: Projections of High School Graduates (Ellen Peters) 

In the eighth edition of Knocking at the College Door: Projections of High School Graduates, the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) forecasts high school graduates by state and race/ethnicity through the class of 2028. The projections indicate the recent growth in the number of high school graduates is coming to an end, and most states will experience modest declines in the short term, as well as more diverse graduating classes. The change in the number of graduates will vary by region and state, with some states projected to have losses of 15% or more and others to have increases of 15% or more. The full report, state profiles, map views, and data tables are available on the Knocking website, which also offers a tool for obtaining customizable data tables and graphs. 

Top 10 Higher Education State Policy Issues for 2013 (Zhao Yang)

For the sixth year, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) released its Top 10 Higher Education State Policy Issues for 2013. “Boosting Institutional Performance” topped the list for 2013 and included the increasingly common practice of linking state financing to student completion. State higher education financing dropped to the number two spot, after being the number one issue for the past six years. According to the analysts, the change reflects a “broadening acceptance that state reinvestment in public higher education will be slow in coming—and institutions must readjust both their operations and revenue mix accordingly.” Tuition pricing and tuition policy rank third with the focus on college affordability, the shift from state funding to tuition and fees, and tuition-setting authority. Emerging issues to watch include competency-based and online educational opportunities and guns on campus. 

Changing Course: Ten Years of Tracking Online Education in the United States (Zhao Yang)

Changing Course: Ten Years of Tracking Online Education in the United States summarizes results of the 2012 Survey of Online Learning conducted by the Babson Survey Research Group. The number of students taking at least one online course during fall 2011 has now surpassed 6.7 million, a 9.3% increase over the previous year, with 32% of higher education students now enrolling in at least one online course.  Currently, 2.6% of higher education institutions offer a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), and 9.4% report MOOCs are in the planning stages. The report notes academic leaders remain unconvinced that MOOCs represent a sustainable method for offering online courses, but believe they provide an important means for institutions to learn about online pedagogy. Other key findings indicate over 69% of the respondents believe online learning is critical to their long-term strategy, but report low retention rates in online courses remain a barrier to the growth of online instruction.  

How Long Does It Take? STEM PhD Completion for Underrepresented Minorities (Zhao Yang)

The issue brief, How Long Does It Take? STEM PhD Completion for Underrepresented Minorities, examines the relationships between social and institutional factors and students’ time to STEM PhD completion. The study addresses three research questions: (1) What characteristics are related to time to completion of a STEM PhD? (2) Are there differences in time to completion based on race/ethnicity of students? (3) Do significant racial/ethnic differences in time to completion remain after controlling for other background and college experiences? Researchers found differences in time to degree completion within racial/ethnic groups that may be related to educational experiences during graduate school or life circumstances. They conclude a better understanding of the differences will contribute to addressing disparities in STEM participation by underrepresented minorities and women. 

Academic Spending Versus Athletic Spending: Who Wins? (Zhao Yang)

The Delta Cost Project report, Academic Spending Versus Athletic Spending: Who Wins?, looks at academic and athletic spending in NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Division I public universities. The report highlights trends in athletic and academic spending between 2005 and 2010.  Athletic departments spent more per athlete than institutions spent to educate the average student, and athletic costs increased twice as fast as academic spending in the three Division I subdivisions. Although the belief is college sports are a financial boon to colleges and universities, the report concludes specific sports at some universities may be profitable and help support other campus programs, but most athletic departments receive subsidies from their colleges and universities because they do not generate enough revenue to cover all of their costs.  

National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) (Zhao Yang) 

The NCES Projections of Education Statistics to 2021 (NCES 2013-008) provides 15 years of national data and projections on key education statistics such as enrollment, graduates, teachers, and expenditures in elementary and secondary schools, and enrollment, degrees conferred, and expenditures in postsecondary institutions.  At the state level, projections of public elementary and secondary enrollment and public high-school graduates are provided to the year 2021.   

Web Tables—Trends in Debt for Bachelor’s Degree Recipients a Year After Graduation: 1994, 2001 and 2009 (NCES 2013-156) presents tables on the debt of three cohorts of bachelor degree recipients (1992-93, 1999-2000, and 2007-08) spanning a 15-year period. Statistics on loan repayment, further educational pursuits, and employment status are included. In addition, tables present graduates’ debt status relative to their living arrangements, family structure (e.g., single, married, cohabitating, children), and whether borrowers had a spouse also repaying loans. Data are provided by key demographic, enrollment, and employment characteristics. 

Published January 14, 2013  

Improving the College Scorecard: Using Student Feedback to Create an Effective Disclosure (Marv Noltze)

The Center for American Progress (CAP) report, Improving the College Scorecard: Using Student Feedback to Create an Effective Disclosure, provides user feedback on the White House College Scorecard -- a one-page summary of institutional metrics such as tuition cost, job placement, and loan repayment intended to assist students and families in identifying and choosing high-quality, affordable colleges. As part of the study, CAP conducted focus groups with college-bound high school students to elicit their input on the utility of the College Scorecard. The students expressed confusion and uncertainty about the Scorecard’s purpose, terminology, and interpretation of key measures. The CAP report includes the following recommendations for improving the Scorecard: (1) introduce the scorecard with a simple descriptive statement; (2) highlight the four-year graduation rate, not the six-year rate; (3) develop alternatives to communicate concepts such as net price and student debt; and (4) provide links to additional employment outcomes so students can see details by program.  

College Prices, Costs, and Outcomes: Who’s Minding the Gap between Higher Education and the Public? (Jeff Johnson)

Results from the 2012 Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) Survey of Higher Education Governance are compiled in College Prices, Costs, and Outcomes: Who’s Minding the Gap between Higher Education and the Public?  Survey results from more than 2,500 governing board members from public and independent colleges and universities focus on board members’ views of college prices, costs, and the disparity between their perceptions of issues in higher education in general and in their own institution. For example, board members almost universally see great value in higher education and support increasing graduation rates, but nearly a quarter of board members do not believe that the United States needs more college graduates. While more than half of board members think higher education is too expensive, only 17% think their own institution is too costly, and half believe their institution is doing all it can to control expenses.  

The Missing “One-Offs”: The Hidden Supply of High-Achieving, Low Income Students (Scott Jenkins)

A recent report  from the National Bureau of Economic Research, The Missing “One-Offs”: The Hidden Supply of High-Achieving, Low Income Students, examines the college application behavior of students designated as high-achieving, low-income students. A higher proportion of high-achieving, low-income students applied to non-selective schools than their high-income counterparts, despite data suggesting high-achieving, low-income students receive comparable financial assistance and progress at similar rates as high-achievers in the top family income quartile. The high-achieving, low-income students who apply to non-selective schools often live in areas without selective public high schools, may not have a critical mass of high-achieving high school peers, and are less likely to encounter teachers or older cohort of students who attended a selective school. Based on such findings, the report offers improved recruiting strategies for high-achieving, low-income students. This report can be purchased for $5 from the SSRN website. 

Higher Education: A Small Percentage of Families Save in 529 Plans (Ellen Peters)

According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) Survey of Consumer Finances report, Higher Education: A Small Percentage of Families Save in 529 Plans, a small percentage of U.S. families saved in 529 plans in 2010, and those who did tended to be wealthier than others. Even among those families who considered saving for education a priority, fewer than 1 in 10 had a 529 plan or a Coverdell Education Savings Plan, a similar but less-used college savings plan. Families with these plans had about 25 times the median financial assets, three times the median income, and were twice as likely to have earned college degrees as those families without either type of savings plan. States offer consumers a variety of 529 plan features, which along with several other factors, can affect participation. Some of the most important features families consider when choosing a 529 plan are tax benefits, fees, and investment options.  

2012 Year-End Poll of Employers:  A Look at Hiring and Salary Projections for the Coming Year (Marv Noltze)

The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) reports hiring prospects for business graduates in the report, 2012 Year-End Poll of Employers: A Look at Hiring and Salary Projections for the Coming Year. According to this report, hiring projections are looking up in 2013 for a broad spectrum of business graduates, particularly for MBA graduates.  2013 salaries are also expected to increase at or above the rate of inflation. In addition, internships will be abundant for MBA students. The report details employment prospects by industry and business specialty as a resource for graduate business programs, campus career centers, and institutions overall.      

Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities: 2011 (Bruce Mentzer) 

Results from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) annual Survey of Earned Doctorates are now available through an interactive web portal: Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities: 2011. The report provides information on individuals who receive research doctoral degrees including demographic trends, common paths to the degree, fields of study, financial support/debt, and labor market outcomes and salaries. The 2011 report shows an increase in the number of doctorates awarded in science and engineering, the increased representation of women in all fields, and a tight labor market.  A summary report, an interactive report, and detailed data tables are available through the NSF web portal. 

Policy Watch

Rethinking the Carnegie Unit
(Sean McKitrick)

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching announced in December 2012 that it would use a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to examine the Carnegie Unit and its role in American education. The Carnegie Unit has historically formed the basis of measuring student progress in secondary and higher education, but it is increasingly criticized as an outdated and inadequate measure of student learning.   

Published January 3, 2013 

Special Announcement (1/3/2013)  

IPEDS TRP Report: Additional Selected Outcomes of the Advisory Committee on Measures of Student Success (Mary Sapp)

Feedback is requested on suggestions from the IPEDS Technical Review Panel (TRP) #40 report: “Additional Selected Outcomes of the Advisory Committee on Measures of Student Success,” which is posted on the TRP webpage under the “Recent Summaries Open for Comment” section. Comments should be sent to ipedsTRPcomment@rti.org by January 14, 2013. The TRP suggested that IPEDS reporting be expanded to include reporting on outcomes for four student cohorts: full-time (FT) and part-time (PT) first-time degree/certificate-seeking undergraduates and FT and PT non-first-time degree/certificate-seeking undergraduates. Students would be reported in the following outcome categories: 1) whether a formal award was received or not, crossed-tabulated with 2) enrollment status (at reporting institution, at another institution, or unknown). NCES requests feedback on two potential approaches for timing: at two points after matriculation (i.e., six years and eight years for 4-year institutions and three years and six years for 2-year institutions) or after only the longer time period. NCES would also appreciate comments on the feasibility of, and reporting burden associated with, reporting the status of past entering cohorts.

Published December 10, 2012
 
Completing College: A National View of Student Attainment Rates (Christine Keller) 

A November report by the National Student Clearinghouse, Completing College: A National View of Student Attainment Rates, provides new analyses about the pathways, progression, and completion of students in U.S. postsecondary education. Several of the findings from this report indicate higher college completion rates than other published data on college completion. For example, more than 1 in 5 students who completed a degree did so at an institution other than the one where they started, and over 15% of two-year starters completed a degree at a four-year institution within six years. The Clearinghouse manages institutional data for 94% of students at all types of institutions and enables analysis of enrollment and completion for students across multiple institutions.  

Transfer: An Indispensable Part of the Community College Mission (Melodie Christal)

The American Association of Community College policy brief, Transfer: An Indispensable Part of the Community College Mission, reports that 28% of bachelor’s degree recipients began their postsecondary education at a community college, and 47% took at least one course at a community college. This brief addresses the role of community colleges in bachelor’s degree attainment, the mobility of credits between different types of institutions, and cost savings accrued to students who start at a community college. Challenges associated with capturing the effects of transfer include providing a “precise, data-driven definition” and the ability to identify and track transfers given the nonlinear paths of students in their postsecondary endeavors.   

Record Shares of Young Adults Have Finished Both High School and College (Jeff Johnson)

The percentage of American adults who have completed a bachelor's degree has reached a record high, according to the Pew Research Center study, Record Shares of Young Adults Have Finished Both High School and College. Richard Fry and Kim Parker show that 31% of the population over 25 has completed at least a bachelor's degree, up from 12% in 1971 and 26% in 2001. Gains among young adults (25 to 29 years old), however, were not equally distributed across demographic groups. In 1971, 20% of men but only 14% of women had completed a bachelor's degree; by 2012, 37% of women but only 30% of men had done so. Racial gaps persist but have narrowed somewhat, with completion rates doubling among Whites (from 20% to 40%) but tripling among Blacks and Hispanics (from 7% to 23% and from 5% to 15%, respectively). Fry and Parker conclude the "education reversal" of the early 2000s, which saw declining rates of college completion among young adults for several years, has ended. The pattern of educational attainment has shifted away from being exclusively an early adulthood event, with increasing educational attainment beyond the age of 29 for a cohort. The study is based on recently released data from the U.S. Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. 

Context for Success: Measuring Colleges’ Impact (Christine Keller)

A series of papers and issue briefs released by HCM Strategists explore the development of assessment tools for evaluating the performance of postsecondary institutions while taking into account the differing levels of preparation by entering students. The papers are part of the Context for Success project funded by the Gates Foundation.  As part of the project, education scholars and practitioners were convened to discuss and outline the theoretical and practical issues that should be considered in designing “input-adjusted” metrics for judging the effectiveness of colleges and universities. The research papers apply or discuss each of three approaches to outcomes measurement:  progression/completion, labor market outcomes, and direct assessment of student learning. 

Top-Ten IT Issues, 2012 (Jeff Johnson)

Implementing new technologies and consumer-facing IT initiatives are the key issues for IT leaders in higher education, according to EDUCAUSE's annual survey. Top-Ten IT Issues, 2012, published in June, identified "updating IT professionals' skills and roles to accommodate emerging technologies and changing IT management and service delivery models" as the greatest concern for 2012. Supporting new technologies and delivery systems such as "bring your own device," cloud computing, big data, and analytics were common concerns. Other issues raised in the survey included how to use IT to directly support campus information consumers such as decision makers, researchers, and those engaged in operations and assessment. The results of the survey are not comparable to previous EDUCAUSE annual surveys due to a change in the methodology aimed explicitly at raising issues that had not been raised in previous surveys. 

Higher Education and the 2012 Elections (Melodie Christal)

Higher Education and the 2012 Elections, a new Policy Matters brief published by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, summarizes fiscal and policy implications from the November elections for higher education. Consequences of federal elections are explored, including issues that may be addressed by Congress in 2013. The brief also highlights outcomes of state elections and ballot measures that influence funding, access, capital improvements, and governance for higher education.  

Promoting Student Learning and Institutional Improvement: Lessons from NSSE at 13Annual Results 2012 (Melodie Christal)

The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) released its new report, Promoting Student Learning and Institutional Improvement: Lessons from NSSE at 13—Annual Results 2012, in mid-November. This report presents findings from the 2012 NSSE survey with a focus on updating key findings from NSSE’s first 13 years. It also provides examples of how colleges and universities use NSSE to enhance the quality of undergraduate education. The report notes that a majority of students worry about paying for college and 1 in 3 frequently opt not to purchase course materials because of the cost. Full-time students who work more than 20 hours per week have the greatest stress, and 3 in 5 students report that work interferes with their academic performance. The report also provides insights on the student use of social media. Nine out of ten students use social media to connect with friends and family, and students using social media to interact with peers, faculty, and campus staff are more engaged. On the other hand, students who used social media during class for non-class activities have lower grades.  

NSSE is launching an updated survey in 2013. For information about the history of NSSE, or using the results, visit the NSSE website  or refer to the New Directions for Institutional Research, Using NSSE in Institutional Research, Number 14, Spring 2009. 

2012 Open Doors Report (Bruce Mentzer)

The Institute of International Education updated the information on international students and U.S. students studying abroad within their Open Doors data portal, including 10 years of data, charts, graphs, and maps displaying trends by state, country, and institution. Overall, the 2012 report shows  the number of international students at colleges and universities in the U.S. increased by 6%, to a record high of 764,495 in the 2011-12 academic year, while U.S. students studying abroad increased by 1%. The print version of the Open Doors 2012: Report on International Educational Exchange will be released in late January 2013. 

Survey of College and University Admissions Directors (Melodie Christal)

The 2012 Inside Higher Ed Survey of College and University Admissions Directors  provides information on key issues for admissions professionals, including policies and practices related to recruiting, admission procedures, and higher education costs and programming. Highlights from the survey responses indicate that a substantial number of admissions directors believe the current average loan volume is reasonable, and students and parents are increasingly interested in identifying degree programs with strong job prospects. Other topics included in the survey are: “What student populations are the focus of admissions recruitment efforts? Are higher education costs and levels of student indebtedness affecting admissions choices? Are two-year colleges increasingly competing with four-year colleges/universities for students?”  

Published November 30, 2012

Policy Watch

Gainful Employment Update (Becky Gerambia)

The Department of Education issued Gainful Employment Electronic Announcement #41- Requirements for Adding New Educational Programs on November 21, setting forth requirements for notifying the Department of Education when an institution adds new educational programs. The Announcement reinstates and describes program regulations in effect prior to July 1, 2011.

The Department of Education issued Gainful Employment Electronic Announcement #42 - 2011-2012 Disclosures for Gainful Employment Programs on November 23. Announcement #42 states that institutions must now update their Gainful Employment program disclosures for the 2011-2012 award year no later than January 31, 2013, and provides additional information regarding the content, format, and method of GE program disclosures. Institutions that have already updated their disclosures are advised to review those disclosures to ensure they are consistent with the guidance and timeframes set forth in the Announcement. 

Published November 12, 2012

ECAR Study of Undergraduates and Information Technology, 2012 (Melodie Christal) 

The ECAR Study of Undergraduates and Information Technology, 2012, from the Educause Center for Applied Research, provides information on communication technologies undergraduate students are using and the students’ perceptions of how these technologies contribute to their academic achievement. Based on responses from more than 100,000 students, 66% report they were prepared to use technology when they entered college. Student respondents believe technology is critical to their academic success and a key to their future accomplishments. They expect faculty to use technology to engage them in the learning process and want to access course material and grades on their mobile devices. In the 2012 study, more students reported that instructors use technology to aid in understanding course material (70%) than they did two years ago (49%).  

College Board: Trends in Higher Education Series (Melodie Christal)

The annual College Board’s Trends in Higher Education Series was released in late October and presents information and analysis on college pricing and student aid.  

Trends in College Pricing 2012 provides information on 2012-13 tuition and fees as well as room and board costs for public two-year, public four-year, and private four-year institutions. The report focuses on both published prices and net prices that take into account grant aid. Trend data on institutional finances and family income also provide measures of college affordability. 

Trends in Student Aid 2012 covers the types, sources, and amounts of financial aid available to assist students and families in paying for postsecondary education. The report looks at both undergraduate and graduate debt. Data in this report are from the 2011-12 academic year. 

Student Debt and the Class of 2011 (Melodie Christal) 

The Project on Student Debt report, Student Debt and the Class of 2011, provides data on the cumulative student loan debt of recent graduates from four-year institutions. It is estimated that two-thirds of 2011 college graduates have student loan debt, with an average loan of $26,600 for those graduating with loans. The report includes data for each state on the average student debt for 2011 graduates and the percentage of graduates with debt. High-debt states are primarily in the Northeast and Midwest, with most low-debt states in the West and South. A list of high-debt colleges is also included. The report concludes with recommendations to reduce the risks and burdens of student debt.  

Graduating to a Pay Gap (Melodie Christal)

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) report, Graduating to a Pay Gap: The Earnings of Women and Men One Year after College Graduation, examines the pay gap between men and women college graduates working full-time after graduation. In 2009, women out of college for one year earned 82% of what their male peers earned. College major is one factor driving differences in pay, as men are more likely to major in higher-paying fields (e.g., engineering, computer science). Other factors such as selected occupation and hours worked also explain some of the gap, but even after those factors are taken into consideration, women still earn about 7% less than men on average. The report also found 20% of women and 15% of men use more than 15% of their earnings to pay student loan debt. The report provides several explanations for the difference in salaries and makes recommendations to eliminate the pay gap and address the burden of student loan debt.  

Census Bureau (Melodie Christal)

Using data from the American Community Survey, the report Work-Life Earnings by Field of Degree and Occupation for People With a Bachelor’s Degree: 2011, provides evidence that educational attainment, college major, and occupation affect work-life earnings. The data show a $1 million difference in earnings over a lifetime of high-school graduates and those with a bachelor’s degree. A bachelor’s degree recipient can expect to earn $2.4 million over his or her work life, with those majoring in engineering, computers, math, science fields, business, and social science earning higher than the average.  

Field of Degree and Earnings by Selected Employment Characteristics: 2011 provides information on majors and earnings of baccalaureate recipients of the population 25 years and older. In 2011, there were 59 million people with a bachelor’s degree or higher. Business was the most popular major with 12 million people majoring in this field, followed by education with 8 million majors. Engineering majors had the highest earnings at $92,000 per year. Majors with the lowest earnings included visual and performing arts, communications, education, and psychology.  

National Center for Education Statistics (Melodie Christal)

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) preliminary First Look report, Enrollment in Postsecondary Institutions, Fall 2011; Financial Statistics, Fiscal Year 2011; and Graduation Rates, Selected Cohorts, 2003-08, (NCES 2012-174) presents preliminary findings from four components of the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) Spring 2012 data collection: student financial aid, Fall 2011 enrollment, graduation rates within 150 percent and 200 percent of program completion, and fiscal year 2011 finances.   

Published October 23, 2012 

Special Announcement (10/22/2012) 

IPEDS TRP Report: Improving Finance Survey Forms for For-Profit Institutions (Mary Sapp) 

Feedback is requested on suggestions from the IPEDS Technical Review Panel (TRP) #39 report, “Improving Finance Survey Forms for For-Profit Institutions,” which is posted on the TRP webpage under the “Recent Summaries Open for Comment” section.  Comments should be sent to ipedsTRPcomment@rti.org by December 7, 2012. The TRP suggested that private, for-profit institutions provide more detail on their Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) forms for revenues, expenses, scholarships and fellowships, and balance sheet information in order to make for-profit IPEDS finance data, which until now has been collected using a simplified form, more comparable to the considerably more detailed reporting required of other sectors. The TRP also recommended that instructions be clarified in order to minimize burden.

Published October 16, 2012  

Cracking the Credit Hour (Christine Keller)

A report by the New America Foundation, Cracking the Credit Hour, argues that the credit hour represents a fundamental disconnect within U.S. higher education - the practice of measuring student seat time rather than student learning. The report outlines the history of the credit hour and recent evidence in support of the view that the credit hour is antiquated – particularly at a time when a college degree is both more important and more expensive. The report concludes that for the U.S. to reclaim its position as the most educated nation in the world, federal policy needs to shift from paying for and valuing time to paying for and valuing learning. 

Delta Cost Project (Melodie Christal)

Using newly released data from the National Center for Education Statistics, the Delta Cost Project is providing a series of updates to the 2011 report, Trends in College Spending: Where Does the Money Come From? Where Does It Go? What Does It Buy? The Delta Cost data contribute information and analyses for the ongoing discussion of higher education affordability. 

Revenues: Where Does the Money Come From? focuses on institutional revenues between 2000 and 2010. The report looks at total operating revenue by source; the interaction between net tuition revenue and state and local appropriations; and tuition discounting and differences between sticker price and gross and net tuition revenues. Report highlights include the following. 

State and local appropriations declined over the decade, decreasing by 24% in both research and master’s universities and by 20% in bachelor’s institutions and community colleges. Tuition revenues exceeded state and local appropriations at public research and master’s institutions, and were nearly equal in public bachelor’s institutions. Tuition discounting rates in 2010 ranged between 27% and 36% at private institutions, and from 10% in community colleges to 18% in research universities.  

Spending: Where Does the Money Go? focuses on institutional spending between 2000 and 2010. The report looks at total spending by expenditure categories; expenditures from all revenue sources; education and general (E&G) spending; and educational and related (E&R) spending, a subset of expenditures based on the educational mission of institutions. Report highlights include the following.  

Spending on instruction between 2009 and 2010 remained flat at public four-year institutions and declined 7% at community colleges while spending for institutional support declined in all categories of institutions. Expenditures on plant operating and maintenance declined considerably at all types of institution, suggesting that colleges and universities are deferring maintenance on their facilities. 

The Delta Cost Project also published a set of briefs analyzing postsecondary student attrition that discuss the institutional costs of student attrition, the measurement of attrition costs, and benchmarking to other industries. The briefs can be found on the Delta Cost Project website. 

A Record One-in-Five Households Now Owe Student Loan Debt (Katie Zaback)

A Record One-in-Five Households Now Owe Student Loan Debt by the Pew Research Center uses Survey of Consumer Finances data to examine student debt. About one in five households (19%) owed such debt in 2010, increasing from 15% in 2007. For households headed by someone younger than 35, a record 40% have student loan debt, with debt for this age group growing at a faster pace than other age cohorts. The amount of student debt per household increased 14%, from $23,349 in 2007 to $26,682 in 2010. While those at upper-income levels are more likely to have student debt, low-income households typically have less capacity to pay off debts. This report adds to the existing literature and data around student loan debt. As tuition increases and the number of students taking on student loan debt also rises, it will become increasingly important for institutions to understand the long-term impact on students.  

Financial Stress: An Everyday Reality for College Students (Melodie Christal)

In An Everyday Reality for College Students, Inceptia, a division of the National Student Loan Program, surveyed college students and recent college graduates on the impact of financial stress. The survey covered personal finances, family life, work commitments, academics, and time management. The top five stressors identified were: the need to repay loans, the cost of education, borrowing money for college, the need to find a job after graduation, and the academic challenge of course work. Almost three-quarters of the survey respondents worked during the academic year, with 15% working full-time. One-third said financial stress had a negative impact on their academic performance or progress, and 20% reported having to reduce their course load to deal with stressors. Inceptia recommends colleges and universities examine the impact of financial stress on their students and graduates and dedicate more resources toward supporting the financial success of their students.  

Career and Technical Education: Five Ways That Pay Along The Way to the B.A. (Ellen Peters)

In Career and Technical Education: Five Ways That Pay Along the Way to the B.A. the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce reports there are 29 million jobs that pay $35,000 or more on average and do not require a bachelor’s degree. These “middle jobs” represent one in five jobs in the U.S. and nearly half of all jobs that pay middle-class wages. The report details five Career and Technical Education pathways to educate and train Americans for these jobs: associate's degrees, postsecondary certificates, employer-based training, industry-based certifications, and apprenticeships. The report recommends that the federal government formalize a “learning and earning exchange” to provide transparency to the relationship between Career and Technical Education and the labor market. It also recommends creating career and technical education programs that link high school and postsecondary education with employer-based training. 

The Three-Year Bachelor’s Degree: Reform Measure or Red Herring? (Melodie Christal)

The Three-Year Bachelor’s Degree: Reform Measure or Red Herring?, the September 2012 Policy Matter brief of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, examines the three-year degree programs typically designed to improve college affordability, help students complete college in a timely manner, and/or increase institutional productivity. The brief explores goals and models of three-year degrees as well as the benefits and drawbacks. The brief concludes that overall, three-year degree programs have failed to receive sufficient participation to be considered effective, but policymakers should continue to create new models and strategies that will lead to greater student persistence and success. 

Graduate Enrollment and Degrees: 2001 to 2011 (Melodie Christal)

Graduate Enrollment and Degrees: 2001 to 2011 presents finding from an annual survey conducted by the Council of Graduate Degrees (CGS) and the Graduate Record Examinations Board (GRE). The report provides data on graduate applications and enrollment for fall 2011, degrees conferred in 2010-11, and trend data for one-, five-, and ten-year periods. About 1.7 million students were enrolled in graduate programs in fall 2011 with more than 441,000 first-time graduate students. About 75% of students enrolled in programs leading to a master’s degree or certificate and more than one-half enrolled in education, business, or health science programs. In 2010-11, approximately 92,900 doctoral degrees, 517,000 master’s degrees, and 25,200 certificates were awarded. 

Education at a Glance (Melodie Christal)

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Education at a Glance 2012: OECD Indicators is a compendium of international education statistics for the 34 OECD member countries and Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa. This year’s report includes indicators on spending on education, tuition fees, adult participation in education, class sizes, salaries, and national exam systems. The indicators are organized thematically and provide the policy context and information on how to interpret the data. Education at a Glance 2012: Highlights provides a “reader-friendly introduction” to the OECD data focusing on educational levels and student numbers, the economic and social benefits of education, paying for education, the school environment, and equity. 

Policy Watch (Christine Keller) 

CEDS Update

On September 19, NCES announced the release of CEDS Connect. This new tool allows users to find and create "Connections" from data elements to practical applications across the P-20W (early learning through workforce) environment. Connect can be used to find out how others in the field are using data elements to answer policy questions, calculate metrics and indicators, and report to various data requestors.   

Project Degree Completion

Nearly 500 four-year public colleges and universities have pledged to boost college completion by 3.8 million students to help the nation reach the goal of 60% of adults possessing a college degree by 2025. Through Project Degree Completion: A Public University Initiative, the institutions will increase the number of college degrees they award from an estimated 14.6 million to 18.4 million over the next 14 years. The participating institutions are members of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU). Their membership represents nearly all the four-year public colleges and universities in the country.

Published September 21, 2012

Online College Students 2012: Comprehensive Data on Demands and Preferences (Ellen Peters)

In Online College Students 2012: Comprehensive Data on Demands and Preferences, The Learning House, Inc. reports survey results of 1,500 individuals enrolled in or planning to enroll in fully online undergraduate or graduate programs. The survey compiled data on motivation for online study; strengths and weaknesses of online formats; services needed; and effective promotion and advertising of online programs. The report notes that students of all ages participate in online education with about 40 percent of online students younger than 30. Most online students live within 100 miles of the physical location of the institution in which they enroll and about two-thirds attend not-for-profit institutions. Survey findings also indicate that online students rely on institutional websites for communication and want compressed terms of study at an affordable cost.   

The College Advantage: Weathering the Economic Storm (Katie Zaback)

The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce report, The College Advantage: Weathering the Economic Storm, provides a broad analysis of how educational attainment impacts employment for workers in times of recession. The report shows that although unemployment levels increased sharply for all workers, individuals without a college education bore the brunt of the recession’s job losses – losing nearly 5.6 million jobs. Further, the jobs gained during the recovery that began in 2010 have been limited to those requiring a college education. The analysis also examines the differential effects of the recession on wages and by industry, occupations, and for men and for women.  The report concludes that the recession exposed the shortcomings of the U.S. workforce and accelerated the long-term trend toward more skilled jobs requiring higher levels of postsecondary education.   

Dynamics Affecting Public Higher Education Financing and Highlights from States’ Legislative Sessions in 2012 (Christine Keller)

Dynamics Affecting Public Higher Education Financing and Highlights from States’ Legislative Sessions in 2012 was released in July by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU). The brief is part of AASCU's State Outlook series and outlines economic and state policy issues affecting postsecondary education, in particular the dynamics influencing public higher education financing at the start of the 2012-13 fiscal year. The report discusses economic and state revenue conditions and forecasts, as well as specific pressure points affecting state budgets and future public higher education funding. The report also provides a review of state legislative activity involving higher education in the 2012 session. Integrated throughout the report are links to an array of information-rich resources including data from the National Governor's Association (NGA), the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), and the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO). 

The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2012 (Melodie Christal)

Using ACT College Readiness Benchmarks and test scores, The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2012 provides snapshots of college readiness for 2012 high school graduates for the nation and each state. ACT defines “college and career readiness” as “the acquisition of the knowledge and skills a student needs to enroll and succeed in credit-bearing first-year courses at a postsecondary institution without the need for remediation.” ACT estimates approximately 28 percent of 2012 high school graduates taking the ACT are not academically prepared for first-year courses in English composition, college algebra, biology, and social sciences. The individual state reports allow policymakers to assess if students enrolled in P-16 are taking core courses, if the courses are sufficiently rigorous, if younger students are on track for college and career, and how the 2011 graduating class is doing.  

The ACT Profile Report provides information for each state on the performance of the 2012 high school graduates who took the ACT as sophomores, juniors, or seniors. The report focuses on performance, access, percent of students pursuing a core curriculum, course rigor, college readiness, the extent to which student aspirations match performance, and the colleges and universities to which students sent their test results. ACT also provides suggestions for states on how to improve students’ scores and college readiness. 

Strategies for Success: Promising Ideas in Adult College Completion (Melodie Christal)

The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) Policy Exchange, Strategies for Success: Promising Ideas in Adult College Completion, addresses five topics relevant to increasing adult degree and certificate completion: (1) the need for better data on adults with prior college; (2) partnerships between employers and higher education institutions; (3) effective marketing campaigns targeted to reach adults with prior college credits; (4) evaluation of transfer credits; and (5) credit for prior learning and work experience. The report highlights promising strategies and practices for each topic. 

Performance-Based Funding of Higher Education: A Detailed Look at Best Practices in 6 States (Melodie Christal)

In Performance-Based Funding of Higher Education: A Detailed Look at Best Practices in 6 States, the Center for American Progress summarizes the history of performance-based funding and outlines experiences in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Tennessee, Washington, and Louisiana. Best practices include involving key stakeholders in the funding model design and recognizing institutional differences with separate formulas or metrics, ensuring sufficient funding to create incentives strong enough to change behavior, and using indicators to emphasize incremental progress such as course completion. 

U.S. Department of Education and National Center for Education Statistics (Christine Keller)

In late August, the congressionally mandated report Higher Education: Gaps in Access and Persistence Study (NCES 2012-046) was released. The 46 indicators and multivariate analyses document the scope and nature of gaps in access and persistence in higher education by sex and race/ethnicity. Report findings showed that females were more likely than males to graduate with a high school diploma, enroll in college, and earn an associate's or bachelor's degree. The gender gaps were generally consistent for all racial and ethnic groups. Findings also indicated that Black and Hispanic students had a lower probability of earning an associate's or bachelor's degree (43 percent and 25 percent lower respectively) than did White students after accounting for background characteristics. 

This report presents indicators that include the most recently available, nationally representative data from NCES, other federal agencies, and selected items from ACT and the College Board. The report draws on multiple sources that represent different years and different populations and provides nationally comparative data for postsecondary institutions to track access and persistence for students in their institution or region. 

In July, the U.S. Department of Education released college attainment numbers by state based on Census Bureau data from 2009 to 2010. The percentage of 25-34 year olds with some kind of postsecondary credential increased from 38.8 percent to 39.3 percent, marking progress toward President Obama’s goal for America to become first in the world in the proportion of college graduates.

Trends Among Young Adults Over Three Decades, 1974-2006 (NCES 2012-345) reports on the transition from high school to adulthood for four cohorts of high school seniors. The data are from four NCES studies: the National Longitudinal Study of the High School Class of 1972; High School and Beyond (1980); the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988; and the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002. The report addresses postsecondary enrollment, labor force roles, family formation, and civic engagement through voting or military service.  

Published September 10, 2012

Policy Watch 

Common Education Data Standards (CEDS), Version 3, was released for public comment on September 5. This version includes a significant expansion of postsecondary data elements. All are encouraged to review this draft of the standards and submit comments by September 28 via the CEDS website 

There will be two additional CEDS releases this month: 

  • Race to the Top Assessment Support - Elements to support the Assessment Interoperability Framework (AIF) will be released this week (week of September 10). The documentation on this work can be found at the CEDS website.
  • Connect Tool - On September 19, CEDS will expand with the release of the latest tool, Connect. This tool allows users to develop Connections (metrics, indicators, and policy questions mapped to necessary data elements) relevant to the educational world for others to view and use. 

CEDS supports the development of a common vocabulary for P-20W (early learning through workforce). It is a collection of definitions and formats for the most commonly used P-20W education data elements.   

Published August 22, 2012

Making Performance Funding Work For All (Katie Zaback)

The Working Poor Families Project (WPFP) policy brief, Making Performance Funding Work For All, provides a history of performance funding since its inception in the 1970s. According to the brief, current performing funding models, referred to as Performance Funding 2.0, have six design characteristics: 1) links performance funding to achievement of clear, shared, state policy goals; 2) provides meaningful, stable financial rewards; 3) recognizes the diversity of institutional missions; 4) encourages simplicity in measurement systems; 5) defines performance broadly; and 6) signals clear expectations, starting small and building steadily. WPFP offers five recommendations for how states can link performance funding to statewide workforce and economic development goals to ensure postsecondary systems best meet the needs of America's low-income working families. Recommendations include articulating the connection between postsecondary success and economic prosperity; defining postsecondary education broadly; adopting performance criteria that reward intermediate educational outcomes such as persistence; offering incentives for serving low-income populations; and emphasizing the development of robust state data systems and outcome measurements. 

National Center for Education Statistics (Melodie Christal)

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) First Look publication, Postsecondary Institutions and Price of Attendance in the United States: 2011-12, Degrees and Other Awards Conferred: 2010-11, and 12-Month Enrollment: 2010–11 (NCES 2012-289), presents preliminary data from three components of the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) fall 2011 data collection: Institutional Characteristics (including information on tuition and fees and price of attendance); Completions, and 12-Month Enrollment.

The NCES First Look publication, Employees in Postsecondary Education, Fall 2011 and Student Financial Aid, Academic Year 2010-11 (NCES 2012-156), presents preliminary data from two survey components in the IPEDS winter 2011-12 data collection: Human Resources and Student Financial Aid.

In order to make IPEDS data available as quickly as possible for national, state, or institutional level analyses, IPEDS data will now be publicly released in three stages, beginning with data submitted in the 2011-12 data collection cycle. The three stages are preliminary, provisional, and final. The recently released First Look publications based on preliminary data from the fall and winter collections provide users with full access to IPEDS data soon after the close of the data collection.

Additionally, the IPEDS Analytic: Delta Cost Project Database has been updated to include 2009-10 data. The database includes institutional data from the IPEDS finance, enrollment, staffing, completions, and student aid surveys from 1987-2010 and can be used to support longitudinal analyses. This database is updated annually.

Reverse Transfer: A National View of Student Mobility from Four-Year to Two-Year Institutions (Melodie Christal)

The National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) Research Center released a new report, Reverse Transfer: A National View of Student Mobility from Four-Year to Two-Year Institutions, as a follow-up to its second Signature Report, Transfer and Mobility: A National View of Pre-Degree Student Movement in Postsecondary Institutions. Focusing specifically on students who move from four-year to two-year institutions or “reverse transfers,” the report indicates 14.4% of first-time students enrolled at four-year institutions in fall 2005 transferred to a two-year institution. Only 16.6% of these reverse transfer students returned to the four-year institution where they began, and 28.3% later transferred to a different institution in the four-year sector. By the end of six years, one-third of reverse transfers had completed a bachelor’s degree or were enrolled in a four-year institution. The report recommends a more in-depth examination of reverse transfers so policies can be developed to help institutions meet their enrollment goals and to ensure student success.  

How America Pays for College 2012 (Melodie Christal)

Sallie Mae’s How America Pays for College 2012 describes the decisions families make in paying for a college education, focusing on undergraduate students ages 18 to 24. The study provides the average amounts and proportion of total costs paid from each funding source a “typical” family uses to pay for college. In 2011-12, average family spending declined for the second year in a row, dropping by 5 percent to $20,902. In addition, families shifted how they pay for college. Drawing from savings, income and loans, students paid 30% of the total bill, up from 24% four years ago, while parents covered 37% of the bill, down from 45% four years ago. The report also addresses the use of credit cards by families and students to cover college costs as well as the effect of the Card Act of 2009, which restricted the marketing and distribution of credit cards to students.  

Is College Affordable? In Search of a Meaningful Definition (Mary Sapp)

The Institute for Higher Education Policy Issue Brief, Is College Affordable? In Search of a Meaningful Definition, argues that perceptions about college affordability are more negative than reality as it is difficult for people to think about college as an investment. The brief recommends shifting college affordability discussions from sticker price to net price and treating college as an investment with a high rate of return that should not simply be funded from residual family income. The affordability debate is further complicated as investments in a college education do not pay off equally for all students and are typically not viewed as an investment to be paid over time from increased lifetime income. The report proposes better information about complex pricing, financial aid, and the benefits of postsecondary education as well as efforts to provide more grant aid, targeted tax subsides, and better protection for students who cannot repay loans.  

New Americans in Postsecondary Education (Melodie Christal)

The NCES Statistics in Brief, New Americans in Postsecondary Education: A Profile of Immigrant and Second-Generation American Undergraduates, presents data from the 2007-08 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS:08) on undergraduates who immigrated to the United States or who had at least one immigrant parent, i.e., a second-generation American. The report compares background characteristics, educational pursuits, and attainment for these two immigrant groups with all undergraduates (excluding foreign students). The report also compares immigrants of Asian and Hispanic descent—the most prevalent immigrant and second-generation American undergraduates.  

Policy Watch

Published August 7, 2012 (Special Announcement)

IPEDS TRP Report: Using IPEDS Data to Construct Institutional Groups for Consumer Comparisons (Mary Sapp

Feedback is requested on suggestions from the IPEDS Technical Review Panel (TRP) #38, “Using IPEDS Data to Construct Institutional Groups for Consumer Comparisons” (upper right corner of page under “Recent Summaries Open for Comment). Comments should be sent by August 27 to ipedsTRPcomment@rti.org.  The TRP recommends comparison groups for consumer information tools such as the College Scorecard be defined using IPEDS data. Pre-defined groups should be based on the predominant undergraduate degree awarded, and consumers should also be able to define their own comparison groups by choosing specific institutions or by using other criteria (e.g., region, selectivity, etc.).

Published July 26, 2012

Assuring Academic Quality in the 21st Century: Self-Regulation in a New Era
(Christine Keller)

Assuring Academic Quality in the 21st Century: Self-Regulation in a New Era
, from the American Council on Education (ACE) National Task Force on Institutional Accreditation, considers the central characteristics of accreditation and outlines common criticisms of the process. It offers six major recommendations for colleges, universities, and regional accreditors to ensure accreditation meets its public accountability responsibilities given the enormous diversity of American higher education. The academic leaders who made up the task force also urged the higher education community to strengthen and improve the quality and public accountability of the institutional accreditation process.
 
Remediation: Higher Education’s Bridge to Nowhere (Alice Van Ommeren) 

Remediation: Higher Education's Bridge to Nowhere, a report from Complete College America, finds that more than one-half of students entering community colleges and about 20% of students entering four-year institutions are placed in remedial classes. The report cites the large numbers of students in remedial classes as a significant barrier to certificate/degree completion. Fewer than 1 in 10 students who start in remedial courses graduate from a community college in three years and only about one-third complete a bachelor’s degree in six years. Instead of traditional remediation, the report suggests four steps states can take to increase student success: (1) strengthen high school preparation; (2) place students with deficiencies in redesigned college-level courses with built-in, co-requisite support; (3) build extra support around gateway courses; and (4) encourage students to enter programs of study when they first enroll. The report provides Common Completion Metrics data from 31 states as well as examples of successful initiatives.  
 
Going the Distance in Adult College Completion: Lessons from the Non-Traditional No More Project (Melodie Christal) 

The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) report, Going the Distance in Adult College Completion: Lessons from the Non-Traditional No More Project, summarizes policies and practices targeted at increasing adult degree completion. WICHE worked with Arkansas, Colorado, Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota, and South Dakota to identify and eliminate barriers keeping adult learners with a significant number of college credits from returning to college to complete their degrees. The report addresses five areas in which barriers were identified and promising strategies were designed to better serve the adult learner. The report recommends that institutions offer a single point of contact for returning adults to help them through the readmission process and increased flexibility regarding policies and practices.

NASSGAP Annual Survey Report on State-Sponsored Financial Aid (Melodie Christal) 

The National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs (NASSGAP) report, 42nd Annual Survey Report on State-Sponsored Financial Aid, provides data on 2010-11 state-funded expenditures for postsecondary student financial aid. In 2010-11, states awarded approximately $11 billion in state-funded financial aid, a 2.5% increase from the prior year with the majority of aid awarded in the form of grants; 71% of the grants were need-based and 29% were non-need-based. States provided more than $1.8 billion in non-grant student aid, including loans, work study, and tuition waivers, down almost 5% from last year. Additional resources are available on the NASSGAP website, such as a State Data Quick Check tool, which shows expenditures by programs for a selected year, and an online tool that allows for customized queries of survey data.

What It’s Worth: Field of Training and Economic Status in 2009 (Melodie Christal) 
 
The U.S Census Bureau’s Household Economic Study What It’s Worth: Field of Training and Economic Status in 2009 explores the relationship among educational attainment, field of training, and occupation and earnings using data collected in the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). The report includes comparisons between 1984 and 2009 for specific degrees including vocational certificates, associate degrees, and advanced degrees - data not available in most other time series. Managerial and professional jobs are predominately held by those with a bachelor’s degree or higher and the majority of positions in technical fields are held by those with credentials lower than a bachelor’s degree.  Not only do occupations vary by education level, but higher levels of earnings are associated with higher educational attain­ment. 
 

College Enrollment and Work Activity of 2011 High School Graduates (Melodie Christal) 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has published a report providing information on 2011 high school graduates (16 to 24 years old) and their educational attainment and work activity. As of October 2011, 68.3% of 2011 high school graduates were enrolled in postsecondary education, with women enrolling at a higher rate than men (72.3% vs. 64.6%). The enrollment rate of Asians (86.7%) was higher than whites (67.7%), blacks (67.5%), and Hispanics (66.6%). Recent high school graduates who were not enrolled in college in October 2011 were more likely to be working or looking for work than those who were enrolled in college - 68.7% compared with 38.8%. 

Condition of Education 2012 (Melodie Christal)

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Condition of Education 2012 report presents 49 indicators on the status and condition of education covering all levels of education from early childhood through postsecondary education. This year’s report examines how demographic and policy changes have impacted high schools over the past 20 years.

Policy Watch

Open Data Initiatives and the Education DataJam

In June, the Obama Administration launched the Education Data Initiative, an effort to make education data more available and useful to key stakeholders and consumers. As part of this initiative, staff from the White House, the U.S. Department of Education, educational technology experts, and others participated in a “DataJam” on July 10 to brainstorm new applications, products, and services that could be developed using education data to facilitate student success. Materials from the DataJam can be found at the bottom of the Office of Educational Technology website. More information can also be found on the White House blog. The Department of Education will also be hosting a similar “Data Palooza” event this fall. 
 
Resources for 2012-13 IPEDS Changes on Distance Education

The 2012-13 IPEDS data collection cycle will include several new items related to distance education on the Institutional Characteristics, Completions, and Enrollment components of the IPEDS surveys. More information is available in the July 10 edition of This Week in IPEDS. To view the new items as they will appear on the survey forms, select the 2011-12 Survey Materials; and click on the icons in the far right column under “2012-13 Changes.” AIR is also preparing a web tutorial on the topic.  
 

Published: July 11, 2012
 
 
Gainful Employment Update

A day before the Department of Education’s new regulations for vocational programs (commonly known as “Gainful Employment”) went into effect on July 1, a federal judge invalidated one of its key elements and blocked enforcement. The judge ruled that the Department of Education had failed to provide sufficient evidence to justify the third standard: the requirement that at least 35 percent of a program's former students repay their federal student loans. While the judge's ruling undercut some provisions of the gainful employment rule, it reinforced the Department of Education’s authority to address the problems associated with underperforming vocational education programs - i.e., excessive student debt and limited job prospects. As of July 8, the Department of Education had not issued an official statement on planned next steps for the regulation. Read more from Inside Higher Ed and the New York Times.
 
Published: June 21, 2012 
 

Pathways Through Graduate School and Into Careers (Mary Sapp)

The Council of Graduate Schools and the Educational Testing Service report, Pathways Through Graduate School and Into Careers, projects that over the next eight years jobs requiring a master's degree or doctoral/professional degree will increase by 22% and 20%, respectively and calls for greater cooperation among universities, business, nonprofit organizations, and government. The report urges universities to clarify and strengthen career pathways by tracking careers of their graduates, providing better career counseling services, connecting graduate students with graduate alumni, developing business-related skills valued by employers, and creating more opportunities for interactions with nonacademic employers. Businesses are encouraged to expand collaboration with universities, invest in graduate programs, provide more internships, offer sabbatical/research opportunities for faculty, and provide financial support for employees to attend graduate school. Governments are advised to provide professional development for graduate students, increase funding for graduate education, and create an advisory commission to clarify pathways. 

The Completion Arch: Measuring Community College Student Success (Melodie Christal)

The College Board Advocacy and Policy Center report, The Completion Arch: Measuring Community College Student Success, summarizes indicators linked to student progress and success at community colleges from national and state data as well as from other initiatives. Metrics and summary statistics are available on the Completion Arch web tool. The indicators are organized in five key areas: (1) enrollment, (2) developmental education placement, (3) progress, transfer, and completion, (4) workforce preparation, and (5) employment outcomes. Each indicator includes a graphic display of data and explanatory text describing what the data mean, who is counted, why it is important, and other information including limitations and caveats.

Certificates: Gateway to Gainful Employment and College Degrees (Melodie Christal)

Postsecondary certificates are the fastest growing form of college credentials in the nation, with more than one million awarded annually. The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce report, Certificates: Gateway to Gainful Employment and College Degrees, describes the value of postsecondary certificates in terms of earnings and employment. The report includes data on the demographic characteristics of certificate holders and states where certificates provide the highest return on earnings.

Return on Investment Dashboard (Melodie Christal)

The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) and the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) have developed a Return on Investment (ROI) Dashboard. This interactive tool uses data from the Census Bureau, the National Center for Education Statistics, and the Department of Education data to project the short-term and long-term effects on federal and state revenue of increasing the number of adults with postsecondary credentials. Data are provided for the United States and each state. The data show that even in tough economic times, increasing credential attainment pays off for individuals, families, communities, states, and the country. For example, if the U.S. meets the 2025 goals of postsecondary educational attainment, the average annual per capita income would increase by approximately $1,400 in 2025 and federal revenues would be $67 billion, about six times higher than the estimated cost of increasing credential attainment. State revenues would also increase to approximately $64 billion, triple the estimated state cost for increasing the credential attainment.

Latino College Completion in 50 States (Melodie Christal)

Excelencia in Education’s report provides a summary of college completion among Latinos in Latino College Completion in 50 States. The report emphasizes that increasing Latino educational attainment is essential for the United States to meet its future societal and workforce needs. The report highlights three initiatives to improve Latino degree attainment. Fact sheets for each state provide a snapshot about Latinos in the educational pipeline and the equity gap between Latinos and whites.

Beyond Need and Merit (Katie Zaback)
 
Beyond Need and Merit, a report from the Brookings Institution State Grant Aid Study Group provides recommendations for how states should target financial aid systems to help optimize support for educational attainment in the face of declining state funding and increasing tuition levels. The report, developed by national, state, and institutional leaders, recognizes there is no one model for state financial aid but recommends all states should consider structuring aid programs to: (1) focus resources on students whose chances of enrolling and succeeding in college would be improved by state support; (2) consolidate and simplify programs for college students and their families; and (3) encourage success within postsecondary education as well as access. An inventory of 2009-10 state grants is included in the report and is also available as a spreadsheet.
 
2012 National Freshman Attitudes Report (Ellen Peters)
 
According to the Noel-Levitz 2012 National Freshman Attitudes Report, male college freshmen tend to be less likely than females to enjoy reading, to study hard, or to take careful notes in class. The seventh annual study examines a range of student attitudes and motivations at the beginning and again at the middle of the first year. The report’s findings emphasize the importance of monitoring students' attitudes and behaviors and following up with appropriate services to help more students complete their coursework and succeed in college.

 
Policy Watch
 

Principles of Excellence for Military Tuition Assistance and Veterans Education Benefits Programs (Lesley McBain)

In April 2012, President Obama issued an Executive Order requiring the Departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs, and Education to establish “Principles of Excellence” applying to all institutions receiving federal military and veterans education benefit funds (including but not limited to active-duty military Tuition Assistance and the Post-9/11 GI Bill program). In addition to new readmission-, refund-, and accreditation-related requirements, the principles require institutions to provide data on the total cost of the educational program including tuition and fees, financial aid, and student outcomes to prospective military/veteran students and their families. Specific guidance on data and compliance issues has not yet been issued.

College Affordability and Transparency Lists (Melodie Christal)

To comply with requirements outlined in the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (HEOA), the U.S. Department of Education released the annual College Affordability and Transparency Lists on June 12, publishing lists of the most- and least-expensive colleges, by sector. The data are posted in the College Affordability and Transparency Center, which is linked from the College Navigator website.

Published: May 11, 2012
 

IPEDS TRP Report: Selected Outcomes of the Advisory Committee on Measures of Student Success

Feedback is requested on suggestions from the IPEDS Technical Review Panel (TRP) #37 report, “Selected Outcomes of the Advisory Committee on Measures of Student Success,” which is posted on the TRP webpage (under the “Recent Summaries Open for Comment” section). Comments should be sent to ipedsTRPcomment@rti.org by May 29, 2012. The TRP suggestions include: (1) a revised definition of Degree/Certificate-seeking Student that spells out groups to include for IPEDS reporting; (2) IPEDS reporting of progression and completion measures for cohorts of part-time students; and (3) alternative reporting schedules for part-time cohorts.

Published: May 22, 2012

A Stronger Nation through Education (Christine Keller)

Lumina Foundation’s latest report, A Stronger Nation through Education, tracks U.S. progress toward Lumina’s “Big Goal” that 60% of Americans will hold a high-quality postsecondary degree or credential by 2025. The data shows modest gains in college attainment rates with 38.3% of working-age adults (ages 24-65) holding a two-year or four-year degree in 2010. However, the growth rate is not sufficient to reach 60% attainment by 2025. The report provides detailed breakdowns of degree attainment at the national, state, and county levels as well as each of the nation’s 100 most populous metropolitan areas.

It’s A Matter of Time: Low-Income Students and Community Colleges (Christine Keller)

The policy brief It’s A Matter of Time: Low-Income Students and Community Colleges from the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) suggests the current concept of Student Right to Know (150% of “normal time” to complete a degree) is outdated and a shorter time-to-degree is not necessarily a more efficient or better experience for the student. Instead, the needs and attendance patterns of nontraditional and low-income students also need to be factored into the equation. The brief examines the investment of time since students choose to spend their time on what they value. For example, low-income students spend more time studying than students in higher income brackets. The brief provides examples of the potential negative consequences for these student populations when financial aid policy decisions are based on a limited understanding of the time constraints under which low-income students operate.

Tying Funding to Community College Outcomes (Melodie Christal)

The Jobs for the Future report, Tying Funding to Community College Outcomes: Models, Tools, and Recommendations for States, provides tools to help states design performance-based funding systems for community colleges that can influence student and institutional behavior, avoid unintended consequences, and withstand shifts in political and economic climates. States abandoned past efforts to implement performance-based funding after encountering resistance from institutions and failing to achieve desired results. Driven by campaigns to bolster student success, states are now revisiting performance-based funding models to allocate some state support based on institutional progress in improving student retention and degree completion. The report highlights Ohio's new performance-based funding system and the rationale to develop different systems for community colleges and four-year institutions.

Reclaiming the American Dream (Melodie Christal)

In summer 2011, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) launched a new initiative to educate an additional five million students by 2020. Reclaiming the American Dream is the culminating report from the 21st-Century Commission on the Future of Community College. The report focuses on the “Three Rs:” reform: (1) redesign students’ educational experiences; (2) reinvent institutional roles; and (3) reset the system to create partnerships and incentives for student and institutional success. The report includes seven recommendations and strategies for implementing the “Three Rs.”

Simplifying Student Aid: What It Would Mean for States (Melodie Christal)

The College Board Advocacy & Policy Center report, Simplifying Student Aid: What It Would Mean for States, looks at implications of the federal government's proposal to simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Five states (Kentucky, Minnesota, Ohio, Texas, and Vermont) are studied to determine if a simpler FAFSA would have an impact on state budgets and determining who should receive financial aid. The report concludes the simplified FAFSA would lead to minor changes in the allocation of federal and state awards and the general integrity of financial aid programs would be retained. The report also notes the simpler FAFSA would most likely lead to increased participation in postsecondary education of low-income students.

2011 Year in Review: Global changes in Tuition Fee Policies and Student Financial Assistance (Melodie Christal)

The Higher Education Strategy Associate report, 2011 Year in Review: Global changes in Tuition Fee Policies and Student Financial Assistance, outlines major changes related to higher education affordability around the world in 2011 based on data from the G-40 countries, which account for more than 90% of higher education enrollment and research activity. The report addresses the economic, social, and political context in which higher education operates; tuition and student aid policies; and policy changes in key nations. Tuition fees rose around the world by 2.58% in 2011 but because of inflation, the global tuition index fell by 1.76%. The report concludes that higher education affordability increased in Columbia, France, Germany, Sweden, and Saudi Arabia and decreased in the United States, Philippines, and Spain.

NCES (Katie Zaback)

The schedule for the 2012-13 IPEDS collection cycle is now posted on the IPEDS Data Provider Center (see “Data Submission Info” on the left-hand side of the page). Changes in the data collected are also available.

Data submitted for the IPEDS 2011-12 Human Resource and 2010-11 Student Financial Aid survey components are now available at the Additional Early Release level of the IPEDS Data Center.

The National Center for Education Statistics recently released several enhancements to the IPEDS data tools to support postsecondary data analysis:

  • The IPEDS Trend Generator offers increased flexibility to access select IPEDS data over time. Data currently available include institutional characteristics, enrollment, awards conferred, graduation rates, employment, and institutional revenue. The Trend Generator provides datasets designed to answer specific key questions. For example, under graduation rates one question is “What is the graduation rate within 150% of normal time at 4-year postsecondary institutions?” The tool allows users to create tables or trend charts and to select how to display the data. Depending on the question, data can be displayed by institution type, student type, or state.

  • The College and Career Tables Library is a searchable database of over 5,000 tables from NCES postsecondary publications including IPEDS, Baccalaureate and Beyond, Beginning Postsecondary Students, National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, and the National Study of Postsecondary Faculty. The user can search for tables by data source, keyword, topic, and/or release date.

  • NCES now houses data from the Delta Cost project in IPEDS Analytic: Delta Cost Project Database. The database includes institutional data from the IPEDS finance, enrollment, staffing, completions, and student aid surveys from 1987-2009 and can be used to support longitudinal analyses. This database will be updated annually.

     


Policy Watch
(Melodie Christal)
 

The Department of Education developed an action plan for improving measures of student success based on recommendations in the final report of the Committee on Measures of Student Success. For example, broadening graduation rate reporting to include part-time students and students who previously attended another postsecondary institution is being explored.  A meeting of the IPEDS Technical Review Panel was held in February to discuss selected outcomes from the Committee on Measures of Student Success, including the feasibility of establishing a part-time cohort for graduation rate reporting.  A summary of that meeting can be found on the Technical Review Panel website.

A notice in the May 4, 2012 Federal Register Volume 77, Number 87 includes a request for information about practices and policies on education data systems that disaggregate data on subgroups within the Asian and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Island student population. The Department of Education plans to use the information to help educational entities identify and overcome challenges in disaggregating data on subgroups of this population. Written submissions must be received by the Department of Education on or before July 3, 2012.

Published: April 26, 2012

Transfer and Mobility: A National View of Pre-Degree Student Movement in Postsecondary Institutions (Melodie Christal)

The second in a series of Signature Reports from the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) Research Center, Transfer and Mobility: A National View of Pre-Degree Student Movement in Postsecondary Institutions examines students’ increasingly complex transfer patterns. Most data analyses currently view students as progressing linearly through college at one institution and treating students who do not receive a degree at that institution as dropouts. NSC found one-third of the fall 2006 first-time students changed or transferred institutions before earning a degree, a rate consistent across all types of institutions excluding the for-profit sector. Of those students who transfer, 37% transfer in their second year, and 22% transfer as late as their fourth or fifth years. In addition, 25% transfer more than one time. Given the mobility of students, the authors suggest postsecondary education should investigate new approaches and metrics to better inform students and institutions about the range of successful enrollment patterns.

The Role of Pell Grants in Access, Persistence, and Completion (Katie Zaback)

The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) released the Issue Brief, The Role of Pell Grants in Access, Persistence, and Completion that examines the shifting policy emphasis from college access to college completion and student success, and the potential consequences for students. The brief suggests access itself is not enough to ensure attainment of a higher education credential, and while Pell grants and student aid programs reduce financial barriers, low- and moderate-income students continue to struggle with persistence and completion. It questions whether the benefits of education should be measured in terms of individual success or as a return on societal investment. The report also explores several approaches to help improve student success.

The For-Profit Postsecondary School Sector: Nimble Critters or Agile Predators? (Melodie Christal)

The Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment (CAPSEE) report, The For-Profit Postsecondary School Sector: Nimble Critters or Agile Predators?, uses data from the Beginning Postsecondary Students (BPS) longitudinal survey to compare students attending for-profit institutions with students attending public or private nonprofit institutions. For-profit institutions are more successful than public and nonprofit institutions at retaining students in their first year and getting them to complete short programs at the certificate and associate levels. On the other hand, students enrolled in for-profit institutions have lower earnings six years after entering postsecondary education as well as higher debt levels and default rates on their student loans. This paper is also available in the winter 2012 issue of Journal of Economic Perspectives, 26 (1), 139–164.

State Higher Education Finance FY 2011 (Katie Zaback)

The State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) annual report State Higher Education Finance (SHEF) provides a comprehensive review of state and local funding and enrollment trends for public higher education. Compiled from data collected from each state, SHEF FY 2011 shows relatively flat state funding for higher education in FY 2011 over 2010, and below the FY 2008 level. Due to continued enrollment growth, FY 2011 educational appropriations per FTE fell to $6,290 and net tuition revenues per FTE reached $4,774. These figures represent the lowest educational appropriations per FTE in inflation-adjusted terms and the highest share from tuition in the 25 years of the study. Supplemental data are also available on the SHEEO website.

National Center for Education Statistics (Ellen Peters) 

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) First Look report, Enrollment in Postsecondary Institutions, Fall 2010; Financial Statistics, Fiscal Year 2010; and Graduation Rates, Selected Cohorts, 2002-07, (NCES 2012-280) presents findings from five components of the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) spring 2011 data collection: student financial aid, enrollment by selected characteristics; graduation rates within 150 and 200 percent of program completion; and finance, such as revenues and operating expenditures. The report’s data are available through the IPEDS Data Center and the College Navigator for more than 7,000 postsecondary education institutions that participate in Title IV federal student financial aid programs.

CUPA-HR (College and University Personnel Association for Human Resources) (Melodie Christal)

CUPA-HR conducts several surveys on compensation of higher education positions each year and released new reports in February (AAUP) and March (National Faculty and Two-Year College Faculty) of this year. Information on each survey listed below is available at the CUPA-HR website under the Survey tab. CUPA also offers DataOnDemand, a hands-on application that provides institutions aggregate information for peer comparison groups they create. The prices for these reports and services are available on the CUPA website.

  • AAUP Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession (Melodie Christal)
    Each year, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) collects salary and benefit data for full-time instructional faculty from colleges and universities through the AAUP Faculty Compensation Survey. A Very Slow Recovery, 2011-12, presents the most recent survey results. National and regional data are provided as well as institutional data. This year’s report also addresses the rising price of college tuition and what is driving it.

  • The National Faculty Salary Survey for Four-Year Institutions (NFSS) provides average salary data for full-time faculty by rank (professor, associate professor, assistant professor, instructor, new assistant professors) and discipline, based on the four-digit Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) developed by the National Center for Education Statistics. Data are reported for all institutions and for public and private institutions separately.

  • The Two-Year College Faculty Salary Survey provides average salaries for full-time faculty by discipline at two-year institutions. Because two-year colleges have a diverse pay structure, the survey provides four options for reporting salaries: by level of education/degree, academic rank, discipline with faculty unranked, and discipline with faculty ranked.

The Administrative Compensation Survey (AdComp) collects salary and demographic data for selected administrative positions in colleges and universities. In general, positions at or above the director level are reported in this survey. The report provides a summary of median salaries by position for all institutions.
 
Chronicle of Higher Education Faculty Salary Database

The Chronicle of Higher Education interactive tool provides information about individual colleges and universities using data from the 2011-12 AAUP faculty salary survey and IPEDS. Some of the data available from this site are average faculty salaries by institution and rank, number of faculty, enrollment, and student-faculty ratio. While these data are available from other sources, the Chronicle of Higher Education makes the current year faculty salary data available earlier than most sources.

The Mid-Level Administrative and Professional Salary Survey collects salary and demographic data for selected mid-level positions in higher education. In general, positions below the director level are reported in this survey.

U.S. Census Bureau (Melodie Christal)
Two new U.S. Census Bureau products address education:
 
Educational Attainment in the United States: 2011 – The tables present national statistics on the levels of education achieved by various demographic characteristics, as well as changes over time. Data on educational attainment are derived from the question on the Current Population Survey, "What is the highest grade of school...has completed, or the highest degree...has received?"
 

Field of Bachelor’s Degree in the United States: 2009 – This report estimates fields of bachelor’s degrees by demographic characteristics using data from the 2009 American Community Survey. It also looks at geographic and earnings differences across fields of degree.

Published: March 28, 2012

The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2011 (Ellen Peters)

The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2011 report was released in January by the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) at UCLA's Higher Education Research Institute (HERI). This annual report of entering first-year students is based on the findings from the 2011 Freshman Survey and includes responses from over 200,000 first-time, full-time students at 270 colleges and universities. The report shows that fall 2011 first-time, full-time students differ from respondents in past years in their political views, academic behaviors and attitudes, resources for paying for college, and use of social networking. In addition, there were differences in the reasons students attend college by intended major and in college choice for first-generation students.

Why Access Matters: The Community College Student Body (Melodie Christal)
 
The American Association of Community Colleges policy brief, Why Access Matters: The Community College Student Body (2012-01 PBL), discusses the contribution of community colleges in providing access to higher education and how recent policies on completions and public returns on investment may undermine this access for many students. The brief describes the variety of students served by community colleges and explains the shortcomings of current student success measures when applied to community colleges, particularly the federal graduation rate. The brief concludes with recommended actions to ensure that access to community colleges does not deteriorate.

A Matter of Degrees: Promising Practices for Community College Student Success (Melodie Christal)

A Matter of Degrees: Promising Practices for Community College Student Success from the Center for Community College Student Engagement explores innovative, data-informed programs for educating underprepared students, engaging underserved students, and helping students from all backgrounds succeed. The Center’s multiyear project uses input from students, faculty, and college leaders to explore the relative and combined value of 13 promising educational practices, including design principals critical for student success: a strong start, clear pathways, integrated support, high expectations and high support, intensive student engagement, design for scale, and professional development.

Pathways to Success: Integrating Learning with Life and Work to Increase National College Completion (Patrick Rossol-Allison)

The Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance released the report Pathways to Success: Integrating Learning with Life and Work to Increase National College Completion outlining the barriers traditional and nontraditional college students face in completing their degrees. The report highlights best practices at higher education institutions and describes state and federal government strategies to improve student completion rates. The Advisory Committee calculates that increasing the number of successful nontraditional students will require significant modifications in the structure and delivery of higher education as well as changes to federal student aid programs. The proposed changes most relevant to institutional researchers are revisions to IPEDS to better reflect how nontraditional students complete their educational goals and the need for cooperation between different data consortia to define key data elements.

What Do Students Pay for College (Melodie Christal)

NCES Web Tables What Do Students Pay for College? (NCES 2012-263) present data on the average net price of attendance in 2006-07 and 2008-09 for two groups of first-time, full-time undergraduate students (FTFTUG): (1) grant recipients from any source, and (2) Title IV aid recipients. Under the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA), net price of attendance is calculated as the cost of attendance for FTFTUG minus the total amount of need-based grant aid and merit-based grant aid from federal, state, and institutional sources divided by the number of FTFTUG students receiving this aid. Using data from the IPEDS Institutional Characteristics and Student Financial Aid surveys, the Web Tables present information on the extent to which the average net price of attendance varies by control and level of institution for both the grant recipient group and the Title IV recipient group, and by income levels for the Title IV aid recipient group.


 

Policy Watch (Melodie Christal, Christine Keller)  

College Scorecard

The White House is seeking feedback on a new tool, College Scorecard, to be included in the College Affordability and Transparency Center to assist prospective students and their families in comparing colleges using five measures of college affordability and value. Comments can be submitted through the College Scorecard website.

The proposed measures include: (1) What will it cost to attend? (2) How likely am I to graduate and how long will it take? (3) Will I be able to repay my student loans after I graduate? (4) How much debt will I have when I graduate? (5) Will I be able to get a job after I graduate?  

Financial Aid Shopping Sheet

In collaboration with the Department of Education, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has designed an example of a Financial Aid Shopping Sheet that institutions might use in presenting financial aid offers to prospective students and families. The CFPB is also requesting feedback through their website about the form and the types of information most useful when evaluating a financial aid offer.

Published: February 22, 2012

 

AASCU Top 10 Higher Education State Policy Issues for 2012 (Melodie Christal)

Each year, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) lists the top 10 state issues most likely to affect public higher education during that year. The top state issue in the 2012 Policy Brief is declining state support for public higher education due to the prolonged economic downturn. Other issues listed in rank order are productivity, governance restructuring and regulatory reform, college completion, performance-based funding, tuition policy, state student grant program funding and reform, college readiness, veteran’s education, and immigration policy. In addition to the top ten issues, AASCU predicts discussions will continue on deferred maintenance funding, state level longitudinal data systems, recurring issues of teacher education, weapons on campus, and student enrollment policies.

Grapevine (Katie Zaback)

Illinois State University and the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) recently released the results of the annual Grapevine survey of state higher education appropriations for fiscal year 2012. The report shows that nationwide support for higher education declined more than 7%, and 41 states experienced declines between 2011 and 2012. This trend reflects the effects of the lasting recession and the difficulty for states to maintain current funding levels now that federal ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) funds are depleted. In fact, 29% of states are currently operating with levels of support lower than those available five years ago in fiscal year 2007. The report also shows significant variation across states with one year percentage changes (excluding ARRA funds) ranging from negative 21% to positive 12%. 

Salary Survey (Ellen Peters)

The January 2012 Salary Survey of the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) reports positive news regarding salary outcomes for the college class of 2011. The overall average salary for 2011 graduates is up to $41,701, 2.3% higher than the 2010 graduate’s average of $40,766. Average salaries have increased across the board, although there are greater gains in engineering and computer science than in other fields. NACE refined its data collection methodology this year, compiling data derived from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Census Bureau, and a master dataset developed by Job Search Intelligence. The NACE Executive Summary is available for free; the full report is available to NACE member institutions or by subscription. 

Hard Time: College Majors, Unemployment and Earnings: Not All College Degrees Are Created Equal (Melodie Christal)

The Center on Education and the Workforce addresses the question “Is college worth it?” in Hard Times: College Majors, Unemployment and Earnings: Not All College Degrees Are Created Equal. This report analyzes employment outcomes by major for recent college graduates, experienced college graduates, and graduate degrees. The authors conclude college is worth it and the best alternative for young people. Although the unemployment rate for students with new bachelor’s degrees is high at 8.9%, it is much higher for high school graduates (22.9%) and even higher for high school dropouts (31.5%). The risk of unemployment for recent college graduates varies considerably depending on the major.  Architecture majors have the highest unemployment rate (13.9%) while majors in healthcare and education have the lowest rates (5.4%). 

Women in Intercollegiate Sports: A Longitudinal, National Study, Thirty-Five Year Update (Mary Sapp)

This longitudinal report shows that in 2012, 40 years after the enactment of Title IX, the participation of female athletes in sports is at an all-time high with 8.7 women's teams per college and nearly 200,000 female athletes participating on over 9,000 NCAA teams. An increase in the participation of high-school girls in sports was also found. The report documents a record number of women employed in college sports: over 90% of NCAA programs have at least one female administrator, 20% of all athletic directors are female, and a record number of women are coaching women’s teams. The report notes that the proportion of females in administrative positions tends to be lower in Division I programs.  

National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Reports (Christine Keller)

Beginning Subbaccalaureate Students' Labor Market Experiences: Six Years Later in 2009

This set of web tables presents descriptive statistics on the spring 2009 labor market experiences of subbaccalaureate students who first entered postsecondary education in 2003–04. Data from the 2004/09 Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study is used to identify and present the demographic and employment characteristics of certificate and associate’s degree completers and noncompleters. Labor market experiences presented include employment status as of spring 2009, unemployment spells since last enrolled, median salary earned as of spring 2009, employer-offered benefits, and job satisfaction. 

America's Youth: Transitions to Adulthood

America's Youth: Transition to Adulthood (NCES 2012-026) contains statistics that address important aspects of the lives of youth, including family, schooling, work, community, and health. The transition to adulthood in the United States has changed in recent decades resulting in increased participation and attainment in education; extenuation of educational completion and subsequent delayed participation in the labor force; and delays in child rearing. This report examines numerous aspects of the lives of youth and young adults, ages 14 to 24, in the United States over the last several decades. The report features status and trend data from multiple surveys on the distribution of youth and their family structure; on school-, employment-, and health-related factors and on future plans.


  

Policy Watch

President Obama’s State of the Union Address

In the January 2012 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama called for a comprehensive approach to keeping tuition affordable, proposing that federal student aid be tied to campus tuition policies. The White House followed up with a "fact sheet" outlining the President’s proposal.

Common Education Data Standards Version 2 Released

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) announced the Version 2 release of the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) on January 31. The CEDS project is a national, collaborative effort to develop voluntary data standards to streamline the exchange, comparison, and understanding of data within and across P-20. Version 2 of CEDS focuses on elements and modeling in the early learning, K12, and postsecondary sectors and includes domains, entities, elements, options sets, and related use cases.  Version 2 of CEDS can be found at the CEDS website.

Published: January 29, 2012

10 Questions State Legislators Should Ask About Higher Education
The American Legislative Exchange Council poses and answers policy questions in 10 Questions State Legislators Should Ask About Higher Education. Some of the issues addressed are college completion rates, student preparation for college, accessibility of a college education, college costs and affordability, how higher education is financed, academic quality, workforce preparation, improving accountability and transparency, and innovations in higher education.
 
Leveraging Data for College Completion
Leveraging Data for College Completion by the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) documents the importance of longitudinal data systems for identifying issues, making decisions, and measuring results. The brief emphasizes the significance of linking higher education data systems to workforce data and K-12 data systems and provides effective strategies for addressing some of the challenges related to data collection and management, as well as data analysis and capacity at the state level. In highlighting the strategies, the report also incorporates several successful state efforts. 
 
Completing College: Assessing Graduation Rates at Four-Year Colleges
The Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) at UCLA report, Completing College: Assessing Graduation Rates at Four-Year Colleges, introduces a new method for predicting an institution’s graduation rate using data from the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) Freshman Survey. Many institutions use basic student information such as gender, race/ethnicity, and test scores to project an expected graduation rate. By using the more detailed data from the CIRP Freshman Survey, HERI reports institutions can increase the precision of their predicted graduation rates. HERI also provides online degree completion calculators allowing institutions to evaluate how their own graduation rates can be improved using alternative scenarios.
 
National Student Clearinghouse Snapshot Reports
The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center has published three Snapshot Reports highlighting national enrollment trends in two-year and four-year institutions based on their database, which includes 93% of the student enrollments in the United States. The Persistence Snapshot shows that students tended to stay enrolled (i.e., persist) and notes students are often misclassified as dropouts when they may have just transferred to another institution. There were notable differences in fall-to-fall persistence rates of full-time (92.5%) and part-time (71.2%) students. The Mobility Snapshot addresses students who attend more than one institution and the Concurrent Snapshot addresses overlapping student enrollment. In 2010-11, 7.7% of students enrolled in more than one institution and 3.2% enrolled concurrently at more than one institution.
 
Tuition and Fees in Public Higher Education in the West, 2011-2012
Tuition and Fees in Public Higher Education in the West, 2011-2012 is the latest annual report on tuition and fees from the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). This report presents tuition and mandatory fees at two-year and four-year public institutions for WICHE’S 15-state region including changes from one, five, and 10 years ago. The report includes weighted and unweighted tuition and fees averages by full-time equivalent enrollment. Enrollment-weighted averages provide a better estimate of the published price a student pays based on enrollment patterns.
 
Numbers of Doctorates Awarded in the United States Declined in 2010
The National Science Foundation Info Brief, Numbers of Doctorates Awarded in the United States Declined in 2010 (NSF 12-303), presents data and trends on doctorates awarded in science and engineering collected in the 2010 Survey of Earned Doctorates. As noted in the title, the number of research doctorates in 2010 was down from 2009, the first decline in doctorates awarded since 2002. This report includes demographic information on the doctorate recipients.
 
National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)
The NCES Stats in Brief: Federal Education Tax Benefits: Who Receives Them and to What Extent Do They Shape the Price of Attendance? (NCES 2012-212) examines the three types of education tax credits: the Hope tax credit, the lifetime learning tax credit, and the tuition and fees deduction. The report addresses three questions: (1) What percentage of 2007-08 undergraduates received an education tax benefit and to what extent did these benefits reduce the overall price of college? (2) Among dependent undergraduate students, how did the receipt of the education tax benefits vary by family income? (3) Among dependent undergraduate tax benefit recipients, how did the extent to which education tax benefits lowered the overall price of college attendance vary by family income? The report notes that nearly one-half of the 2007-08 undergraduates received an education tax benefit, thereby reducing college expenses on average by $700.
 
The NCES First Look publication, Employees in Postsecondary Institutions, Fall 2010, and Salaries of Full-Time Instructional Staff, 2010–11 (NCES 2012-276), presents data from the 2010-11 Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) human resources survey. The report includes the number of staff employed in Title IV postsecondary institutions in fall 2010 by primary function/occupational activity as well as salary data for full-time instructional staff. Almost 3.9 million people were employed at postsecondary institutions in fall 2010 with more than 60% employed full-time. About 2.7 million (70%) of these employees work for four-year institutions. Although the number of instructional staff has increased by 18% since 2004, the percentage of full-time faculty has decreased from 49% to 45%. The average nine-month salary is $104,000 for professors, $74,900 for associate professors, and $63,100 for assistant professors; the average salary for instructors, lecturers, and unranked faculty is about $54,000.
 
The NCES First Look publication, Academic Libraries: 2010 (NCES 2012-365), presents data from the 2010 Academic Libraries Survey (ALS). NCES first conducted the ALS in 1966 and began an every-other-year collection cycle in 1988. The survey focuses on library services, collections, library staff, expenditures, electronic services, and information literacy. In addition to selected survey findings, this First Look report provides information on the survey methodology, the survey instrument, and a glossary. In fall 2010, academic libraries employed almost 90,000 FTE with librarians accounting for about 30% of the total FTE. In 2009-10, academic libraries conducted approximately 34.6 million information services for individuals, including computer searches. Almost three-quarters of academic libraries now support virtual reference services.
 
GAO Report on Student Outcomes
The U.S. Government Accountability Office issued the postsecondary education report, Student Outcomes Vary at For-Profit, Nonprofit, and Public Schools (GAO-12-142). The report addresses research on graduation rates, employment outcomes, student loans, and default rates for students at for-profit institutions compared to those at nonprofit and public institutions. It also looks at pass rates on licensing exams for selected occupations. The study uses data primarily from the U.S. Department of Education including the Beginning Postsecondary Students (BPS) Longitudinal Study, the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), and the National Postsecondary Student Aid Survey (NPSAS), and the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS).

Policy Watch
 
Committee on Measures of Student Success
After a year of deliberation, the federal Committee on Measures of Student Success released its recommendations to the U.S. Department of Education in December 2011. The committee's report addresses issues that make measuring student completion rates at two-year institutions difficult and includes recommendations to the Department to collect more information about students who transfer, attend part-time, or require developmental education. While the committee's recommendations are targeted at two-year institutions, they could potentially affect four-year institutions as well.
 
CEDS update
Version 2.0 of the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) will be released this month. CEDS is a voluntary standard that provides definitions and code sets for education data elements. It can improve consistency and comparability of data across institutions, states, and between education sectors. CEDS also has the potential to reduce the reporting burden for IPEDS and other reporting efforts. CEDS defines all data elements needed to complete the IPEDS student surveys, and NCES plans to develop a tool that will allow institutions to use the CEDS-defined codes to create IPEDS import files. A data mapping tool will accompany CEDS 2.0 allowing comparison of existing state data dictionaries to each other and the standard. IR offices are encouraged to discuss CEDS with their IT colleagues, ERP vendors, and other partners committed to ensuring a common understanding of educational data.