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Higher education resources

Here are some new resources and news for the field of higher education.

Getting Risk Sharing Right  “Risk sharing” proposals are designed to hold colleges and universities accountable for the loan defaults of their students, rather than leave taxpayers to foot the entire bill. These proposals to give colleges “skin in the game” typically focus on improving long-term student loan outcomes, such as the three-year cohort default rate or the three-year student loan repayment rate. Building incentives around these metrics may not induce the institutional behavior changes that policymakers expect. The authors suggest a new approach that relies on a short-term metric of semester completion and a set of changes to the federal financial aid program aimed at reducing the overall risk within the student-borrower pool.  (Urban Institute)

Feds Publish Final State Authorization Rule  The U.S. Department of Education released finalized rules detailing how to regulate colleges that offer distance-education programs to students in other states. The rule, scheduled to go into effect July 1, 2018, requires colleges be authorized to operate in each state where their students reside. (Inside Higher Ed, Dec. 19)

The Stagnant Wage Premium  A college degree remains the safest ticket to a well-paying job. But growth in the wage gap between degree holders and people without a college credential has slowed since the 1980s, with almost no gain since 2010. (Inside Higher Ed, Dec. 20)

Higher Education Enrollment Numbers Down Across The State  A preliminary report on college enrollment in Illinois shows a decline at all sectors of higher education. All three categories — public universities, community colleges and private colleges — showed an overall drop in enrollment, according to a report from the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

Make Colleges Diverse  A landmark recent study found that most highly qualified low-income students don’t attend one of the country’s roughly 250 top colleges. Many instead enroll in local colleges with relatively few resources and high dropout rates. In response, Michael Bloomberg’s foundation is starting an ambitious response, the American Talent Initiative. The goal of the initiative is to increase the number of Pell Grant recipients attending the 270 colleges with the highest graduation rates by 50,000 within 10 years. (New York Times, December 13)

Completion and the Value of College  The college completion agenda reaches an inflection point as the Obama administration ends and the nation increasingly focuses on jobs and college value. Experts assess shifts in the completion push and what comes next. (Inside Higher Ed  December 8)

Knocking at the College Door  This report provides data on the future size and composition of high school graduating classes throughout the nation through the 2031-32 school year. The nation is projected to produce fewer high school graduates in all of the 10 graduating classes between 2014 and 2023, compared to the highest recorded number of graduates in 2013. The year of greatest decline is projected to be 2017, with about 81,000 fewer graduates (2.3 percent). The number of high school graduates from private religious and nonsectarian schools is projected to decline at an even greater rate than the overall trend. By 2030, the number of white public school graduates is projected to decrease by 14 percet compared to 2013. Between 2018 and 2028, growth in the number of non-white public high school graduates is projected to replace the numerical decrease in white graduates to a varying extent. There will be growth in the number of high school graduates in the South and West and continuing declines in the number of high school graduates in the Midwest and Northeast.  (Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education)

Performance Standards in Need-Based Student Aid  College attendance is a risky investment, but students may not recognize when they are at risk for failure, and financial aid introduces the possibility for moral hazard (incentivizing risk). Academic performance standards can serve three roles in this context: signaling expectations for success, providing incentives for increased student effort, and limiting financial losses. Such standards have existed in federal need-based aid programs for nearly 40 years in the form of Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requirements. The authors describe a simple model to illustrate not only student responses to standards but also the trade-offs faced by policymakers weighing whether to set performance standards in the context of need-based aid. Using regression discontinuity and difference-in-difference designs, the authors examine the consequences of SAP failure. The model predicted negative impacts on persistence but positive effects on grades for students who remain enrolled. After three years, the negative effects appear to dominate. Effects on credits attempted are 2-3 times as large as effects on credits earned, suggesting that standards increase the efficiency of aid expenditures. But it also appears to exacerbate inequality in higher education by pushing out low-performing low-income students faster than their equally low-performing, but higher-income peers.  (Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment)

IBHE DataPoint The Illinois Board of Higher Education continues to track the number of credentials awarded in Illinois each year to measure progress towards reaching the goal of having 60 percent of the adult population holding a degree or certificate of value by the year 2025. Although total degree and certificate production has largely remained unchanged (roughly 131,000 certificates and degrees) in 2015 relative to 2014, there was some variation by sector. The community college sector was the only sector to demonstrate significant growth in degree/certificate production in 2015. Meanwhile, activity in the private for-profit sector has substantially decreased while degree production at public universities and private not-for-profit institutions has slightly declined. Most importantly, even as degree production in Illinois remained relatively flat in 2015, it continued to drop below the production level required to meet the 60 percent by 2025 goal.

State-Federal Partnerships in Postsecondary Education   As states look for approaches to increase postsecondary education attainment rates and meet changing workforce demands, the interaction and connectivity of state- and federal-level policies plays a critical role in helping states meet their individual goals and support student success. Policymakers are often challenged with marrying federal and state higher education policies to develop a comprehensive policy playbook that supports students and moves the nation toward meeting aggressive, yet necessary, attainment goals. To support policy-making efforts, Education Commission of the States coordinated the creation of 10 policy briefs focused on the interaction between state- and federal-level policies pertaining to higher education. The briefs are composed by a diverse collection of education policy thought leaders representing state and federal perspectives from both a public and private viewpoint.

New Version of Proposal to Regulate Endowments  Representative Tom Reed has announced a new version of his plan to regulate endowments and push colleges to provide more student aid and minimize tuition increases. (Inside Higher Ed, Dec. 7)