Community College Students Without Access to Federal Loans


This report from the Institute for College Access and Success warns that many community colleges block access to federal student loans. This seem to be an ironic consequence of the federal government’s efforts to set standards (completion rates, etc.): schools that admit lots of high-risk students are reluctant to participate in federal loan programs, so the students wind up taking out more costly loans from private lenders.

Institute for College Access and Success. At What Cost? How Community Colleges That Do Not Offer Federal Loans Put Students at Risk. July, 2014.

Identifying Colleges That Are Helping Students Less


The Education Trust has a new report that offers three measures for how well colleges help students become upwardly mobile: the percentage of first-year students with Pell Grants (a measure of a college’s willingness to admit low-income students); the six-year graduation rate (a measure of an institution’s commitment to students’ completing their education); and the student-loan repayment rate (a measure of whether former students are in fact placed in jobs that pay well). The report focuses on the colleges that perform worst on these measures, and reveals that institutions that seem very similar can perform very differently.

Michael Dannenberg and Mary Nguyen Barry. Tough Love: Bottom-Line Quality Standards for Colleges. Education Trust (June, 2014)

Debt and the Class of 2012

Here’s a report that presents data on cummulative student loan debt for students who graduated in 2012. The burdens are not shared equally; the report identifies high- and low-debt states and colleges.

Matthew Reed and Debbie Cochrane. Student Debt and the Class of 2012. Institute for College Access and Success, Project on Student Debt (December, 2013).

Why Is It So Hard to Track Student Progress?

Keeping track of students’ progress is difficult. The standard path–arrive on campus in September of Year 1, then graduate in May of Year Four–is taken by many students, but there are lots of other paths: people take time off, switch colleges, and so on. Still, it is remarkably hard to get data on student progress. This report argues that Department of Education rules forbid linking important data sets, and identifies the groups that have promoted this ban.

Clare McCann and Amy Laitinen. College Blackout: How the Higher Education Lobby Fought to Keep Students in the Dark. New America Education Policy Program (March 2014).

Tracking State Support for Higher Education over Time


Here’s the most recent annual report from the State Higher Education Executive Officers on state support for colleges. It features graphs tracking public colleges’ growing reliance on tuition over the past 25 years. Both national and state-by-state data are presented.

State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO). State Higher Education Finance, FY 2013. (April, 2014).

Data on Student Income and Cost-Sensitivity


This report from the American Council on Education begins with the notion that the Obama administration’s proposal for rating colleges will have effects similar to those of popular ranking systems (e.g., U.S. News, etc.). What struck me as especially interesting were the data showing that price-sensitivity, desire to attend a college near home, and importance of financial aid are inversely correlated with family income, but all of these concerns have been increasing in all income groups.

Lorelle L. Espinosa, Jennifer R. Crandall, and Malika Tukibayeva. Rankings, Institutional Behavior, and College and University Choice: Framing the National Dialogue on Obama’s Ratings Plan. American Council on Education Issue Brief (March, 2014).

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