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Higher education resources

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

Should Community Colleges Offer Bachelor’s Degrees?  Early research on the impact of two-year colleges offering four-year degrees is promising, suggesting doing so could help address the skills gap. Indian River State—a community college located halfway between Florida’s bustling port cities of Palm Beach and Cape Canaveral—has sought to meet the state’s workforce development goals for more than 50 years. Yet a major barrier has been in its way. The stretch of eastern coastal Florida that it serves has few four-year colleges, with the closest public university more than 60 miles away. That poses a challenge to drawing companies in need of skilled workers. So in 2008, Indian River State took advantage of a Florida law that allows community colleges to launch bachelor’s programs if they can help meet the state’s workforce needs. (Education Dive, July 16)

Summer Reading: Colleges Find New Ways To Help Students Put Their Education To Work  Growing resistance to rising tuition and questions about the value of postsecondary education have colleges in a tough spot. How can they show students and their families that a four-year degree is worth the investment of time and money, especially as noncollege alternatives proliferate? One way is to create clearer links between what students learn in the classroom and what they’ll need to know in their future jobs. Some are doing so by introducing new programs in emerging industries and technologies, such as craft beer brewing, cannabis business management, and esports. Others are partnering with tech companies to develop curriculum. Beyond that, and closer to the core of their mission, colleges are changing the way they talk about the education they offer.

Colleges Expand Esports Programs To Keep Pace With Growing Industry  Students at Ohio State University will soon be able to turn their love of video games into a career. This fall, the state flagship university plans to launch a Bachelor of Science degree in esports. Esports are live video game competitions, held either online or in venues with an audience where the competition is also broadcast to online channels. Popular titles include League of Legends and Fortnite, and the games are played by amateurs and professionals alike. It’s a growing industry, in which money is made from activities such as streaming, franchising and sponsorships. Global esports revenues are expected to hit $1.1 billion this year, up 27 percent from last year, according to market research firm Newzoo, which provides gaming and esports analytics. North America is its largest market, accounting for more than a third of all revenue.

Preparing Higher Ed for the Next Recession  While the economy is currently strong, conversations are already beginning about when the tides may turn. Survey data indicates that millions of Americans believe a recession is looming, and some business economists believe a recession is possible before the next presidential election. Higher education’s relationship with the economy is counter-cyclical. During recessions, state budgets generally struggle to maintain investments in higher education and often make cuts, while enrollments tend to increase. This means that institutions are often called upon to increase capacity and streamline budgets at the same time—a perfect storm that often involves tradeoffs at the campus level.

How to Make Student Debt Affordable and Equitable  The system of federal student lending for higher education in the U.S. is falling short. Students face an unnecessarily complex menu of loan types and repayment options, and the lack of appropriate constraints on borrowing for some groups creates perverse incentives that do not serve borrowers well. Worse, the safety net designed to support borrowers in financial difficulty, income-based repayment (IBR), has failed to meaningfully reduce the delinquencies and defaults that cost taxpayers $4 billion a year. IBR lets borrowers cap their loan payments at an affordable share of their income, which was supposed to make debts affordable for anyone experiencing a hardship. The current system is also failing taxpayers in another way. Excessive subsidies are delivered through IBR mainly to individuals who need them the least: middle- and upper-income individuals who seek graduate degrees—a group that historically has rarely defaulted on federal student loans. With that in mind, it is little surprise that loans repaid through IBR, which were slated at their inception in 2009 to cost $1 billion annually, are now expected to cost over $14 billion annually.

Seeking common ground on the Higher Education Act  In Washington today, amidst all the polarization and pyrotechnics, the very notion of finding points of agreement can seem daunting. Yet, even as Congress wrestles with the long-overdue reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, it turns out that there is plenty of common ground to be found. In recent years, debates about college access and affordability have moved to the center of the national stage. Democratic presidential candidates such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have rolled out ambitious free college plans while proposing to forgive most or all of the nation’s $1.6 trillion in student loan debt. Republicans have voiced lots of frustrations with higher education, but many fewer ideas on what might be done. All the while, college costs, debt burdens, loan defaults, and the fact that half of college students don’t finish their degree have convinced many on the left and the right that something needs to change.

Tuition-Free College Could Cost Less Than You Think  Paying for college seems out of reach for many Americans, so the idea of free college has broad appeal. Several Democratic presidential candidates and members of Congress have endorsed it. But free college isn’t really free—someone has to pay for it. Eliminating tuition at all public colleges and universities would cost at least $79 billion a year, according to the most recent Department of Education data, and taxpayers would need to foot the bill. That is a lot of money, but it is a smart and humane investment, and could be more affordable than you think.

3 Ways Colleges Can Prepare The Workforce For Automation Automation has sent the country’s workers down separate paths, according to a new report from McKinsey Global Institute. Twenty-five “megacities and high-growth hubs” accounted for more than two-thirds of job growth in the past 10 years, and that trend is expected to continue. Meanwhile, employment gains have been flat in low-growth cities, and rural counties mostly have fewer jobs than they did before the Great Recession. Those divisions are poised to grow. Over the next decade, automation is more likely to displace workers in rural areas than those in urban areas with more diverse economies, such as Washington, D.C., and San Francisco.

‘A Whole New World’: New Law Lets Pennsylvania Foster Kids Attend College Tuition-Free  A new Pennsylvania law, which allows foster kids to attend college tuition-free, could change Moore’s plans. Signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf on June 28, the Fostering Independence Through Education Act waives tuition for youth who were in foster care at age 16 or older, including those who have “aged out” of the system or been adopted. All Pennsylvania colleges and universities, including public, private, community colleges and state-related schools, will begin accepting the waivers for the fall 2020 semester. The waivers, which also cover college application fees, can be used for up to five years or until a student reaches age 26. Tuition at the 14 state-owned universities is about $7,700 per year.

In Washintgon, State Leaders and the Business Community Work Together to Develop the Workforce  In his 2019 State of the State address, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee was one of several governors to stress the importance of state and community investment in workforce development—and particularly, improving access to postsecondary education and other training that would lead to better-qualified candidates for jobs in high-demand, technical fields.

Planting the Seeds, Working the Land: Postsecondary Programs in Rural Areas Rural America is challenged. Hampered by an aging and shrinking population, it trails urban areas in the portion of people who hold postsecondary degrees. This condition is often aggravated when rural young people seeking postsecondary credentials leave their communities—often referred to as “rural brain drain”—to attend postsecondary institutions, and perhaps not returning as they seek employment after earning their credential or degrees. The consequences for the economic vitality of the rural communities and states are significant.

50-State Comparison: State Policy Models for Connecting Education to Work  Over the next 36 months, Education Commission of the States will release three 50-State Comparisons that capture connections between education and work. The first of the three, this resource explores several areas implicated in ensuring students’ educational experiences prepare them for success in the workplace: workforce investment boards, career pathway systems and financial aid programs. When it comes to leveraging postsecondary education to support state workforce development and individuals seeking jobs in their local economies, collaborative connections are key. Frequently, making these connections in states relies on multiple agencies working together.

Illinois Proud: Completing College  Illinois is best in the nation for completion rates at four-year institutions among all community college students (part-time and fulltime). Illinois public colleges substantially outpace the national averages in terms of six-year completion rates. Illinois is third in the nation in completion rates for adult learners at public universities and not-for-profit private colleges. The overwhelming majority of full-time students at Illinois not-for-profit, private colleges and public universities complete a degree within six years.            

It’s Easy to Forget, but a Program to Forgive Student Loans Already Exists When Bernie Sanders recently announced a $1.6 trillion plan to forgive all student loans, he had a particular kind of borrower in mind. “You are not truly free when you cannot pursue your dream of becoming a teacher, environmentalist, journalist or nurse,” he said, “because you cannot make enough money to cover your monthly student loan payments.” Elizabeth Warren used similar language in announcing her more modest $640 billion loan forgiveness plan, noting that “student loan debt hits America’s teachers particularly hard.” Beto O’Rourke called for canceling all schoolteacher loans.

Student Debt Repayment Is Completely Different For White And Black Americans  The total student loan debt for more than 44 million U.S. student borrowers exceeds $1.5 trillion. On one hand, that’s a testament to an American students’ desire to invest in themselves and their futures. On the other hand, that debt demonstrates a public policy failure to invest in today’s students. Nearly half of white public two-year college graduates (45 percent) and more than two-thirds (68 percent) of white public four-year college graduates leave school with debt. More than half (58 percent) of black public two-year graduates and 82 percent of public four-year graduates complete their degrees with debt. In 2017, the average student loan debt of the 58 percent of the year’s college graduates was an eye-watering $28,288. Graduates in some parts of the country are significantly worse off.

New Texas Law Aims To Make Sure Students Don’t Leave Free College Money Unclaimed When Gov. Greg Abbott signed HB 3 into law earlier this summer, in addition to increasing school funding and approving teacher raises, he also approved a requirement for all Texas high school seniors to fill out an application for federal or state financial aid for college. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is an application to see whether a student qualifies for loans, scholarships, grants or work study. As the name suggests, it’s free to apply – but a lot of students don’t. “Students make assumptions based on what they’ve heard from either counselors or other students,” said Jaime Ayala, the student success coordinator at Foundation Communities’ College Hub. He regularly advises students in Austin on how to fill out the form.