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Higher education resources

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

Race, Geography and Degree Attainment A new analysis of U.S. Census data at the county level shows that rural areas tend to have low college-degree attainment levels, and that urban and suburban areas often feature wide gaps across racial lines. The report from the Center for American Progress was inspired in part by maps of the 2016 presidential election and by studies on “education deserts,” or commuting zones that lack more than one broad-access postsecondary education option, said Colleen Campbell, director for postsecondary education at the center. (Inside Higher Ed, June 27)

State Funding for Students’ Basic Needs An increasing number of governors and states are answering the call for more resources to help college students who are struggling with food and housing insecurity. Recently, lawmakers in California and New Jersey offered new money to help public colleges support students experiencing hunger and homelessness. California’s state budget proposal includes $15 million each to the University of California system and California State University (CSU) system to help students meet their basic needs. The state’s 114 community colleges are not included in the proposal, but the Assembly passed a bill that would require each two-year campus to provide a safe parking lot where homeless students can sleep in their cars.

Student Debt: Where States Are Stepping In to Educate Through Financial Literacy Programs Recent media coverage of the 2020 presidential candidates’ stances on student debt and postsecondary affordability highlights approaches that target the costs for students through free college proposals and also shines a light on another aspect of affordability — student indebtedness. For many years, states have been developing and deploying different policy strategies to address student indebtedness without waiting for action at the federal level. One such strategy is financial literacy programs, which can focus on general personal finance, while also including specific information on borrowing for postsecondary education.

The Education Deserts of Rural America One in three Montanans lives more than 60 minutes from the nearest college campus. The tracts of land that separate these individuals and institutions are sometimes called “education deserts,” and they cover many patches of rural America. Add to that the fact that nearly 40 percent of first-time, full-time freshmen attend institutions fewer than 50 miles from home, and these statistics begin to sketch the outlines of a crisis.

Student Borrowing Up, Federal Data Show The proportion of students borrowing to pursue college degrees was up in 2015-16 compared to eight years prior, according to federal data released Wednesday. And the average amount borrowed increased by nearly $6,000 over the same period. The numbers are from the Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study, a nationally representative survey of students who completed requirements for a four-year degree. The Education Department recently released new results of the study for the first time in eight years.  (Inside Higher Ed, July 11)

Do High School Students Think They Will Go to College? When push comes to shove, will students go to college? The Education Department shares the views of colleges that students are likelier to enroll at bachelor’s-awarding institutions and to earn the bachelor’s degrees awarded there if they aspire to finish.  For that reason, the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 tracked parents and high school students in that class. The base year collection included questions for both parents and students about their highest expected attainment. The base year was 2009, and updates were collected in 2012 and 2016.

College Education ‘Opportunity Cost’ Depends on Where You Live   The Grammy Award-winning song from the 1960s “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?” may be more relevant today than ever — at least for university graduates seeking to maximize their investment in education. San Jose, California, is where graduates with bachelor’s degrees have the highest premium compared to those who maxed out with a high school diploma, according to a Bloomberg gauge that tracks “upward mobility” in nearly 400 U.S. metropolitan areas. San Francisco; Stamford, Connecticut; Washington, D.C., and Raleigh, North Carolina, rounded out the top five.

New Survey Finds College Students Lack Financial Literacy Today’s college students are feeling unprepared to manage their finances and have already accumulated high amounts of debt, according to a recent survey by EVERFI. The report, titled “Money Matters on Campus” which was sponsored by AIG Retirement Services, focused on students’ financial experience and knowledge. It included 30,000 college student participants from 440 institutions in 45 states. The survey found that six in 10 students have taken or intend to take loans out to cover their tuition bills. However, only 65 percent actually plan to pay off those loans on time and in full.

Student Debt: An Overlooked Barrier to Increasing Teacher Diversity There is clear evidence that a diverse teaching workforce is beneficial for all students—and particularly for students of color. Studies show that Black students perform better on standardized tests, have improved attendance, and are suspended less frequently when they have at least one same-race teacher. Black teachers are more likely to recommend high-achieving Black students for talented and gifted programs, virtually eliminating the gap in access to these programs. And there is evidence that same-race role models—in this instance, teachers of color—inspire minority students. While much of the research on teacher diversity has looked at the importance of Black teachers for Black students, partly due to low sample sizes of Latinx teachers and other teachers of color, there may be similar effects for other students of color. The research on teacher diversity is critically important considering that in the 2015-2016 school year, 51 percent of U.S. students identified as nonwhite, and those percentages will grow in the coming years.

Higher education official hopeful new funding will stem tide of student outmigration The interim director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education is hopeful a combination of added infrastructure and operations funding for state universities and colleges will help entice Illinois students to remain in the state for their college education. The cause of the optimism is state budget action which provided $154 million in new operations funding and $3.2 billion in new or reappropriated infrastructure funding to higher education. (State Journal-Register, July 1)

Leveraging Public Benefits to Improve States’ Postsecondary Access and Completion Nearly everyone agrees on the benefit of education beyond high school. On nearly every measure of economic wellbeing and career attainment, college graduates outperform their peers who have less education. Each successive level of postsecondary education is correlated with improved social, economic, and health outcomes, although significant racial disparities persist. The benefits of education are extensive and include higher earnings and lower unemployment rates, fewer single parent births, and greater likelihood a college graduate’s children will also go to college. Moreover, workers with a postsecondary education are more likely to get jobs with employer-sponsored health care and retirement savings. Despite these benefits, many students face significant barriers accessing and completing college. Today’s postsecondary students take many pathways to pursue a postsecondary education. They are increasingly diverse and include students from low-income households, students who are parenting, students who are employed part-time and students who are not coming directly from high school.

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