Category Archives: Higher Education

The Macroeconomic Effects of Student Debt Cancellation

Source: Scott Fullwiler, Stephanie Kelton, Catherine Ruetschlin, and Marshall Steinbaum, Levy Economics Institute of Bard College, February 2018

From the summary:
Among the more ambitious policies that have been proposed to address the problem of escalating student loan debt are various forms of debt cancellation. In this report, Scott Fullwiler, Research Associate Stephanie Kelton, Catherine Ruetschlin, and Marshall Steinbaum examine the likely macroeconomic impacts of a one-time, federally funded cancellation of all outstanding student debt.

The report analyzes households’ mounting reliance on debt to finance higher education, including the distributive implications of student debt and debt cancellation; describes the financial mechanics required to carry out the cancellation of debt held by the Department of Education (which makes up the vast majority of student loans outstanding) as well as privately owned student debt; and uses two macroeconometric models to provide a plausible range for the likely impacts of student debt cancellation on key economic variables over a 10-year horizon.

The authors find that cancellation would have a meaningful stimulus effect, characterized by greater economic activity as measured by GDP and employment, with only moderate effects on the federal budget deficit, interest rates, and inflation (while state budgets improve). These results suggest that policies like student debt cancellation can be a viable part of a needed reorientation of US higher education policy.

Measuring Up: How BLS Data Would Inflate Earnings for Career Training Graduates

Source: Ben Barrett and Sophie Nguyen, New American Foundation, February 2018

From the summary:
On January 29, the U.S. Department of Education released a blueprint for how it plans to revise the gainful employment (GE) regulations, which the Obama administration put in place in 2014. Most notably, the Department’s proposed rule would eliminate all sanctions for career-oriented programs that leave students with large debt but without the training to land a well-paying job after graduation. Preserving only a modified version of the current disclosure requirements, the regulations could be further weakened if for-profit colleges get their way during the second round of negotiations. Instead of disclosing or holding career-oriented college programs accountable for the amount of debt that graduates borrow relative to the amount they earn a few years after completing, as the current rules do, for-profit college leaders and lobbyists have called for substituting actual students’ earnings with local estimates derived from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). While the Department’s proposal to strike any consequence from the GE regulations may seem brazen in comparison, attempting to use BLS data in place of actual graduates’ earnings would have nearly the same impact as no accountability at all. Unfortunately, using BLS estimates instead of real earnings data would not only tell prospective students very little about the quality of the program that they are considering, it will actively mislead them. More troubling still, this approach would prevent the government from holding individual colleges accountable. 

To illustrate just how misleading it would be to use BLS data for the purpose of measuring program outcomes, we compared national and local BLS earnings with actual earnings from graduates of specific career-training programs. We found that, on average, the median annual earnings for graduates of all programs subject to the gainful employment regulations were $27,494. But if local BLS estimates were used instead, the median annual earnings would rise to an average of $49,341—an increase of $21,847, or nearly 80 percent…..

Grapevine, Fiscal Year 2017-18

Source: Center for the Study of Education Policy at Illinois State University and the State Higher Education Executive Officers, January 2018

From the summary:
Data reported by the states in the latest Grapevine survey indicate that initially approved state fiscal support for higher education nationwide increased by a modest 1.6 percent from fiscal 2016–2017 (fiscal 2017) to fiscal year 2017–2018 (fiscal 2018). This is the lowest annual percent increase in the past five years. Almost all of the increase between fiscal 2017 and fiscal 2018 was accounted for by appropriations in only three relatively large states: California, Florida, and Georgia. Total funding across the remaining 47 states rose by only 0.2 percent.

The Biggest Problem for State Higher-Ed Policy? Federal Higher-Ed Policy

Source: Eric Kelderman, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 16, 2018

The biggest concern for state higher-education policy in 2018 isn’t the continuing economic volatility, the questions about affordability for students, the disputes about free speech on campuses, or the difficulties in preventing and punishing campus sexual assaults.

Instead, the top issue for states is the uncertainty created by the federal government, according to an annual report from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities….

Why your child’s preschool teacher should have a college degree

Source: Anne Douglass, The Conversation, January 2, 2018

How much education does a preschool teacher need?

When the District of Columbia announced in March that it would require an associate’s degree for all lead teachers at child care centers who work with children up to age 5, the reaction was widely negative. …. The science of brain development shows a clear connection between positive early educational experiences and later success in life. The foundation for literacy, mathematics and science develops rapidly in infancy and continues throughout early childhood. The competencies early educators must have to guide this development effectively, as outlined in a 2015 Institute of Medicine report, are extensive. They include a “sophisticated understanding of the child’s cognitive and socioemotional development [and] knowledge of a broad range of subject-matter content areas.” ….

Enrollment and Employees in Postsecondary Institutions, Fall 2016; and Financial Statistics and Academic Libraries, Fiscal Year 2016: First Look (Provisional Data)

Source: Scott Ginder, et. al., National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Publication #: NCES 2018002, December 2017

From the abstract:
This provisional First Look report includes fully edited and imputed data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) spring 2017 data collection, which included four survey components: Enrollment for fall 2016; Finance for fiscal year 2016; data on employees in postsecondary education for Fall 2016; and data for Academic Libraries for fiscal year 2016.

Everything Passes, Everything Changes: Unionization and Collective Bargaining in Higher Education

Source: William A. Herbert, Jacob Apkarian, Perspectives on Work, 2017

From the abstract:
This article begins with a brief history of unionization and collective bargaining in higher education. It then presents data concerning the recent growth in newly certified collective bargaining representatives at private and public-sector institutions of higher education, particularly among non-tenure track faculty. The data is analyzed in the context of legal decisions concerning employee status and unit composition under applicable federal and state laws. Lastly, the article presents data concerning strike activities on campuses between January 2013 and May 31, 2017.

The Direct and Indirect (Spillover) Effects of Productive Government Spending on State Economic Growth

Source: Andrew Ojede, Bebonchu Atems, Steven Yamarik, Growth and Change, Early View, September 25, 2017
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From the abstract:
Using data on 48 contiguous U.S. states and a spatial econometric approach, this paper examines short- and long-run effects of productive higher education and highway infrastructure spending financed by different revenue sources on state economic growth. Following the Lagrange Multiplier, Wald, and Likelihood Ratio tests, the data are found to be characterized by both spatial lag and spatial error processes, leading to the estimation of a dynamic spatial Durbin model. By decomposing results of the dynamic spatial Durbin model into short- and long-run direct as well as indirect (spillover) effects, we show that accounting for spillover effects provides a more comprehensive approach to uncovering the effects of productive government spending on growth. We find that, regardless of the financing source, productive higher education and highway spending have statistically significant short- and long-run direct as well as spillover effects on state income growth.

Employment trends by typical entry-level education requirement

Source: Audrey L. Watson, U.S. Department of Labor, Monthly Labor Review, September 2017

From May 2007 to May 2010, the U.S. economy lost nearly 7.4 million jobs in occupations that typically require a high school diploma or no formal educational credential for entry. In contrast, the economy had no statistically significant employment change in occupations that typically require postsecondary education for entry. During the recovery, the economy gained jobs in almost all the typical entry-level education categories. By May 2016, employment exceeded May 2007 levels for occupations that typically require no formal educational credential for entry and occupations that typically require postsecondary education. However, employment in occupations that typically require a high school diploma or the equivalent for entry remained nearly 1.3 million lower than in May 2007. This trend is projected to continue. From 2014 to 2024, occupations that typically require a high school diploma for entry are projected to grow more slowly than average, causing a further employment shift away from these occupations and toward occupations that typically require postsecondary education.