Trends in the News

Higher Ed

All Posts

Chicago Tribune, 11/27/18

Gov.-elect Pritzker taps committee, including CPS CEO, to come up with fixes to state education woes

Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker tapped a new committee Tuesday to tackle some of Illinois’ urgent issues in K-12 and higher education, leaning on Chicago and state officials to develop solutions to immense challenges worsened by long-standing budget problems. That group of school administrators, union officials, think tank executives and higher education officials may have to address the billions of dollars still needed to fully finance the state’s new K-12 education funding model, a teacher shortage that’s left some school districts struggling to staff classrooms and the ongoing loss of local high school graduates to out-of-state colleges. “To provide a quality education for every child, one of the major components is funding equity around the state,” Pritzker told reporters. “But now, where are the dollars and how do we accelerate so we get to where we’re trying to get to as fast as possible? Where are we going to bring efficiencies in state government, what dollars can we bring into state government immediately, as well as over a near and medium term?”

Education Dive, 10/29/18

Do community colleges need a new funding structure?

Community colleges receive minimal resources while serving a significant number of students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, according to a new report from The Century Foundation. While these institutions often focus on increasing access to higher education by offering financial aid, relatively few students earn certificates or degrees. Investing in resources like full-time faculty, smaller class sizes, tutoring and intensive advising services, as well as proven programs like first-year experiences and learning communities are more likely to increase graduation rates, the report explains. Current barriers to doing so include a lack of research on the true cost of a quality community college education, over-reliance on local funds and poor allocation of state funding.

Inside Higher Ed, 9/26/18

Free college goes mainstream

Free college programs have continued to launch at the state and local level. And this election cycle, more candidates than ever are running on the idea. The free-college programs already enacted in states like Oregon, Tennessee and New York illustrate the extent to which state-funded programs are shaped by local circumstances. These and most other state-level programs are “last-dollar” models — the state covers whatever need is left unmet after a student exhausts their federal aid options, so much of those resources go to middle-class students, not the poor. Two recent reports from the Institute for Higher Education Policy and Ed Trust — both nonpartisan groups focused on equity in postsecondary education — reinforced concerns many already had about free college. Both reports found that tuition-free college programs often fail to meet the needs of the poorest students and overlook costs of attendance beyond tuition.

Education Dive, 10/23/20

UVA will offer free tuition to low- and middle-income Virginians

The University of Virginia plans to waive tuition for in-state students whose families earn less than $80,000 annually and have “typical assets” while students from families earning less than $30,000 annually would be eligible for free tuition and room and board, according to The Cavalier Daily, the student-run campus newspaper. The news came during the inaugural address of UVA’s new president, Jim Ryan, who said it was the first step in an effort to make the university easier to attend for first-generation and low- and middle-income students. UVA joins several other institutions, municipalities and states waiving tuition to help make higher education accessible to more students from a range of backgrounds as sticker prices rise.

Chalkbeat, 9/28/18

What happens when you pay students to get ready for college? One state is about to find out, with help from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has a new tactic for helping more students get ready for college: paying them money as they take small steps in that direction. CZI is helping Rhode Island try out the strategy, aimed at high-scoring students from low-income families in the state. The program, called Rhode2College and announced earlier this week, will work like this: Starting in 11th grade, students who qualified for free or reduced-price lunch and who scored well on the 10th-grade PSAT will be able to earn money by completing certain tasks.  Those include creating a list of potential colleges, scoring higher on the SAT than the PSAT, submitting a federal financial aid form, and submitting college applications, according to the program’s website.

Brookings Institution, 9/20/18

The promise of free college (and its potential pitfalls)

This study examines one of the first randomized control trials of a program similar to many free college and promise scholarship proposals. Students in 18 randomly selected high schools were promised up to $12,000 to pay for college, at essentially any in-state institution. The Degree Project had some impact on students’ motivation, college expectations, and steps toward college, such as applying to more colleges and FAFSA completion. However, it had no effect on the performance measures and no effect on whether students went directly on to college. The most recent evidence does suggest that the scholarship may have slightly increased persistence and graduation in two-year colleges, though not in four-year colleges.

Washington Post, 9/21/18

How the Great Recession changed higher education forever

The scars of the financial crisis remain with higher education in three significant ways. First, the recovery changed the financial underpinning of many colleges. The increase in the discount rate-the share of tuition revenue schools give to students in the form of scholarships-has been the result of an all-out pricing war among a broad selection of public and private schools, leading some to simply cut their tuition to the price students are essentially paying after the discount anyway. The second long-term impact… is that it led to a big swing in the majors that students choose in college. A long-running annual survey of college freshmen has found that since 2008, the No. 1 reason students go to college is to secure a better job; before that, it was to learn something that interested them. The third lingering issue…is that it led college presidents and their board to focus on short-term issues rather than the long-term sustainability of their institutions.

Washington Post, 8/3/18

Despite strong economy, worrying financial signs for higher education

A few weeks ago, Moody’s Investors Service said that 25 percent of private colleges are running deficits. The news isn’t much better for public universities, according to Moody’s. Last year, revenue at state-run schools grew 2.9 percent while expenses jumped 4.8 percent — the second consecutive year that expenses outpaced revenue. What’s especially troublesome for colleges and universities is that these trends are emerging in a strong economy and as higher education heads into a period of stagnation among traditional high school graduates nationwide. The number of high school graduates is projected to rise slightly in the middle of next decade. Then, between 2026 and 2031, the ranks of high school graduates are expected to drop by 9 percent. In that period, four-year colleges nationwide stand to lose almost 280,000 students.

Education Dive, 7/19/18

Americans overwhelmingly support higher education funding, report shows

A new nationally representative survey of 3,117 adults out of Teachers College, Columbia University finds that overwhelmingly (76%) of Americans say public spending on higher education is a good or excellent investment.  Survey writers explain these perceptions play a role in policy outcomes for higher education resources at the governmental level, noting around 61% of respondents say that increasing federal support for post-secondary education is favorable, with specifically 52% wanting an increase in funding for community colleges.

The Daily Iowan, 4/4/18

Will higher education remain accessible as funding becomes less public?

While funding sources have shifted over the years, the actual dollar amount of state appropriations has essentially remained flat with fiscal 1998 funding levels nearly equal to the amount appropriated to the universities in fiscal 2018. In that same time period, enrollment has spiked, meaning on a per-student basis, financial support for higher education has not kept pace with growth; the amount of available monetary resources hasn’t changed much, but that dollar amount has to be spread among more students. In the fall of 2000, the regents reported an enrollment of 68,930, and in fall 2017, that number rose to 80,066.