Higher education resources
A new report from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute released today once again shows a large difference in average earnings between workers with and without college degrees. But a more interesting finding is that the college earnings premium—or CEP— varies considerably, depending on which state you live in and whether you live in an urban or rural setting. The report, What You Make Depends On Where You Live: College Earnings Across States and Metropolitan Areas, comes at a time when workers across the nation are facing the worst job market in decades because of the coronavirus pandemic, leaving them debating whether they should pursue additional education to improve their economic prospects.
Last month, we released a 50-State Comparison of tuition-setting policies showing that, in the majority of states, legislatures grant authority to individual or system-level boards to set tuition for public higher education. However, even when state legislatures do not set tuition rates, several still impose restrictions on tuition prices through enacting tuition capping or freezing policies. We found that restrictions are in place for the four-year public sector in 11 states, and, for the two-year public sector, in 10 states. To be clear, we only include state laws that mandate a cap or freeze of tuition — not individual institutions or systems that have created their own cap or freeze policies. And, the majority of cap or freeze policies across the country are created by institutions or systems themselves, not by legislatures.(EdNote)
Nearly all public colleges and universities can expect big budget cuts in the coming year, but officials in different states are taking vastly different approaches for determining how big those reductions will be and what they will mean for faculty, staff and students. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine ordered $110 million in cuts to higher education spending for the final two months of the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. He announced the cuts shortly after seeing the state’s revenues drop during April. The actions would provide stability, DeWine said, though he acknowledged he was “greatly concerned” about those targeting education.
Governors, state officials, and higher education experts are banding together with a message for the millions of unemployed in the U.S.: Beware of the for-profit colleges, short-term certificate programs and degree mills that promise to teach critical skills for the post-coronavirus economy but instead saddle folks with student loan debt and a worthless certificate.
More than half of college presidents (53 percent) said it was “very likely” their institutions would resume in-person classes this fall, and another 31 percent said it was “somewhat likely,” according to a survey of 310 presidents conducted by the American Council on Education. Presidents at public two-year colleges were less likely (38 percent) than presidents of four-year public (53 percent) and four-year private (58 percent) colleges to say it was “very likely” their colleges would resume in-person classes this fall. Of the 230 presidents in the survey whose institutions offer on-campus housing, 51 percent said it was “very likely” their campuses would resume in-person housing operations at some point in the fall semester, and 40 percent said it was “somewhat likely.” The survey asked presidents about whether they plan to take certain specific actions in resuming in-person operations.
U.S. colleges could lose at least $3 billion from an expected drop in international students this fall, according to a survey of 346 institutions from NAFSA: Association of International Educators. The higher education sector has already lost almost $1 billion from shortened and canceled study abroad programs and spent about $638 million to support international students, faculty and staff when courses moved online earlier this year. Colleges could take years to recover from the coronavirus crisis, the report notes, especially as it puts international enrollment and study abroad programs in flux.
The governing board of the University of California (UC) voted unanimously Thursday to largely abandon the SAT and ACT as a condition for admission to its campuses. UC’s decision, ratified with 23 regent votes, represents a major loss for testing operators, which lobbied hard for the board to preserve the requirement. The system’s size and prominence in the higher education landscape suggest its move will influence other institutions to eliminate entrance exams. California is the largest testing market for the SAT, said Bob Schaeffer, interim executive director of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing (FairTest). It also signals that the campaign to shift the country’s colleges away from the use of standardized tests in admissions is advancing.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance on Tuesday for colleges as they reopen their campuses. Colleges will be looking to the CDC as many prepare to welcome back students, 19.9 million of whom were enrolled at U.S. colleges last fall. While the guidance does not address when or whether colleges should resume in-person classes, it describes practices colleges can put in place to reduce coronavirus spread and promote a healthy student body and workforce. It also outlines steps they should take to address suspected COVID-19 cases on their campuses.
In a normal year, many colleges would raise tuition by a few percentage points to keep pace with operating costs. But this is not a normal year. The coronavirus pandemic has ravaged institutional finances, muddied enrollment projections, and created a question of whether students can return to campus this fall. And so, despite their budgets being stretched, some college leaders are foregoing planned tuition increases, citing the strain on students and families. As colleges’ finances come into a clearer view this summer, experts predict more institutions will cancel proposed tuition hikes or walk back those they’ve already approved.