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

Illinois Postsecondary Investments  In recent years, political gridlock in Illinois has taken a toll on funding for public higher education. This brief sheds light on how past policies and funding patterns impact the current environment in Illinois, including changes in state support, spending patterns, tuition, and financial aid over the last decade. The report concludes with incisive analysis that could inform a durable policy and investment framework to help Illinois meet the state attainment goal and the real needs of local communities and employers.(Lumina Strategy Labs)

TN – Now That Community and Technical Colleges Are Free, What’s Stopping Tennesseans From Enrolling?  Its final report dissects barriers around Tennessee that seem to be stopping people from enrolling in higher education, even after the state has started waiving tuition for most students at community and technical colleges. (WKNO 91.1)

Illinois Universities’ Credit Downgrades Could Worsen Student Out-Migration  Moody’s Investors Service downgraded seven of Illinois’ public universities late last week, five of them to junk bond status. A downgrade increases how much it costs universities to borrow money, and more importantly poses risk to their competitive strength. How does this affect student migration? (Illinois News Network)

Community Colleges: ‘Can’t Keep Pulling Rabbits Out Of Hats’  Community colleges depend on the state to supply 30 percent of their overall budget, but that formula has evaporated over the past two years. John Avendano, president of Kankakee Community College, and president of the Presidents Council, speaks about the special challenges these schools face. (NPR Illinois)

What Do Students Think of Guided Pathways?  Increasingly, colleges and universities across the country are adopting “guided pathways” reforms to create clearly defined, educationally coherent pathways into and through programs of study for their students. This brief examines data from 48 interviews with first-year students at City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) – a large urban community college system with seven campuses that since 2010 has been implementing guided pathways – to understand students’ reactions to CCC’s ambitious, system-wide reform. A large majority of the students were enthusiastic about program maps and educational planning – hallmarks of the guided pathways approach – yet a few students had negative reactions to these very same elements of the reform. And nearly half the students reported that they experienced problems with activities such as registration and course planning while new systems and practices were being deployed by the college, pointing to substantial implementation challenges.  (Community College Research Center)