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

Early Challenges, Successes on Guided Pathways — Community colleges engaged in creating guided pathways for students are facing some expected challenges but the changes are yielding results, even early on in their efforts. (Community College Daily, April 23)

IERC just released its latest report, Degrees with Less Debt: Effective Higher Education Strategies for Underrepresented Student Populationswhich identified five 4-year universities that were graduating students of color, first-generation students, and low-income students from the St. Louis region with less debt. Administrators and students were interviewed at each of the five institutions to uncover the strategies and practices they were using to propel college completion with less debt.

Guided Pathways to College Completion — This Policy Snapshot provides summary information related to guided pathways, on 2016 and 2017 legislative activities, as well as legislation and board policies from previous years.

The 20% Solution: Selective Colleges Can Afford to Admit More Pell Grant Recipients — Nearly three-quarters of Pell Grant recipients are from families making less than $30,000 per year. Among Pell Grant recipients, 67% attend public two- year and four-year colleges, and 18% attend for-profit colleges. Many qualified Pell Grant recipients do not attend selective colleges. Of the 150,000 Pell Grant recipients with SAT/ACT scores at or above the median on SAT (1120), more than half (86,000) do not attend selective universities. Pell Grant recipients graduate at almost exactly the same rate as all students at selective colleges. Seventy-eight percent of Pell recipients who attend selective colleges and universities graduate, while their chances to complete diminish to 48% at open-access colleges. On average, selective colleges have large budget surpluses that could be used to support more Pell Grant recipients, whose awards cover only a small portion of the cost of attending a selective college. If every college was required to have at least 20% Pell Grant recipients, more than 72,000 more Pell students would have to be admitted to 346 colleges and universities. The selective colleges that would have to add the most Pell students are the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1,467) and Penn State University (1,357). The private selective universities that would have to add the most students are Boston University (1,046) and Washington University in St. Louis (975).  (Georgetown University)

Delaware Department of Education’s 2017 College Success Report — This 2017 College Success Report provides important insight about the connection between the state’s K-12 system and its higher education institutions. It poses questions and action steps to help policymakers, educators and parents better understand the challenges students face as they graduate high school and are placed into remedial-level courses.

New Policy Snapshot Resource — Education Commission of the States is excited to announce the launch of a new resource type – the Policy Snapshot. This resource type provides an in-depth look at current state legislation addressing specific education policy issues. The first published Policy Snapshot, Guided Pathways to College Completion, briefly defines guided pathways, provides summary information on 2016 and 2017 legislative activities, and includes examples of legislation and board policies from previous years. Look out for upcoming Policy Snapshots covering important issues in education policy.

Stackable Credentials: Awards for the Future? — Stackable credentials are sequential postsecondary awards that allow individuals to progress on a career path. For example, a student might serially acquire certificates in medical insurance and medical transcription; these might then lead to an associate in science degree and a career as a health technician. In light of recent labor market changes, these credentials may represent an important buffer against job displacement. The authors distinguish three types of stacking: progression, supplemental, and independent. Using national, survey, and college-system-level datasets, the authors found that between 3% and 5% of the college-educated population have stackable credentials. However, there are several substantial empirical challenges in identifying stackable credentials related to the ordering of awards and to the degree of skill complementarity across awards. General vocational awards that are typically not credit-bearing are often conflated with stackable certificates. The incidence of these awards is far greater than of stackable credentials. A review of the evidence shows that certificates convey modestly positive gains in earnings, but there is no evidence that stacking yields earnings gains.  (Community College Research Center)

The Debt Burden of Bachelor’s Degree Recipients — Four years after completing their degrees, 72% of 2007-08 bachelor’s degree recipients had borrowed for postsecondary education (as undergraduates or graduate students) and 63% of bachelor’s degree recipients still had student loan debt. Borrowers who had no postsecondary enrollment after completing the 2007-08 bachelor’s degree owed an average of $24,200. Those who had borrowed for additional postsecondary education owed an average of $61,300. Among borrowers with no additional enrollment, 69% were repaying their loans, 17% had paid off their loans, 9% were not paying but still owed, and 5% had defaulted. Among federal borrowers with no further enrollment, about one-quarter had at least one delinquent loan. Those who had borrowed the most had higher rates of deferment for reasons of economic difficulty, forbearance, delinquency, and default. Among borrowers who were in repayment, employed, and did not enroll in further education, the average debt burden (monthly loan payment as a percentage of monthly salary) was 10%. About 22% of these graduates carried a debt burden over 12%, a level that is considered burdensome.  (National Center for Education Statistics)