Category Archives: Higher Education

Should Student Employment Be Subsidized? Conditional Counterfactuals and the Outcomes of Work-Study Participation

Source: Judith Scott-Clayton and Veronica Minaya, Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment (CAPSEE), CAPSEE Working Paper, September 2014

From the abstract:
Student employment subsidies are one of the largest types of federal employment subsidies, and one of the oldest forms of student aid. Yet it is unclear whether they help or harm students’ long term outcomes. We present a framework that decomposes overall effects into a weighted average of effects for marginal and inframarginal workers. We then use an application of propensity scores, which we call conditional-counterfactual matching, in which we estimate the overall impact, and the impact under two distinct counterfactuals: working at an unsubsidized job, or not working at all. Finally, we estimate the effects of the largest student employment subsidy program—Federal Work-Study (FWS)—for a broad range of participants and outcomes. Our results suggest that about half of FWS participants are inframarginal workers, for whom FWS reduces hours worked and improves academic outcomes, but has little impact on future employment. For students who would not have worked otherwise, the pattern of effects reverses. With the exception of first-year GPA, we find scant evidence of negative effects of FWS for any outcome or subgroup. However, positive effects are largest for lower-income and lower-SAT subgroups, suggesting there may be gains to improved targeting of funds.
Download the appendices: Appendices A and B
CAPSEE project: Project 8: Federal Work-Study

The Unsupportable Cost of Variable Pricing of Student Loans

Source: Jonathan Glater, University of California – Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2014-46, September 9, 2014

From the abstract:
Terms of student loans offer a tempting tool for encouraging students to choose particular paths through college. This Article offers a critique of a proposal to tie loan terms to student choices of major, arguing that punishing students who choose to study in fields associated with low wages will not achieve the goals of federal student aid. The Article argues that students who borrow should not be subject to additional restrictions on their life choices because of their lesser wealth or lower income.

The Affordable College Compact: A Federal-State Partnership to Increase State Investment and Return to Debt-Free Public Higher Education

Source: Mark Huelsman, Dēmos, September 2014

From the summary:
As a postsecondary degree has become more important than ever in the labor market, and the primary means by which one enters the middle class, the U.S. has simultaneously made it more difficult and more expensive to attain. Over the course of three decades, the cost of public colleges and universities—which educated nearly 3 in 4 students—has risen dramatically. The obvious result of increased cost during a period of stagnant incomes for low-income and middle-class families has been an increased reliance on debt as a way to finance a college education. Just 25 years ago, if a student wanted to attain a bachelor’s degree, it was more likely than not that he or she would be able to do so without borrowing. Now, borrowing is nearly required to graduate with a four-year degree, particularly for low- and middle-income students.

A bachelor’s recipient has a 7-in-10 chance of taking on loans in order to graduate, and 9-in-10 Pell Grant recipients graduate with debt. Average debt at graduation is approaching $30,000 (and is over $30,000 for Pell Grant recipients). Even average borrowing for graduates at public schools—which educate three in four students—is up by nearly a third over the past decade. 64% of bachelor’s degree recipients at public colleges graduate with debt, and even 42% of associate’s degree holders from public schools leave with debt. Black and Hispanic graduates also incur more debt than their white counterparts.

What’s worse, these students may be the best off. Those with credentials are likely to be the best suited to handle student debt, but almost a third—29%—of student borrowers drop out of school, and non-graduates are more likely to face serious trouble repaying loans, becoming delinquent, or defaulting4 Students who choose not to take on debt are faced with the choice of working longer hours or enrolling part-time, both of which may decrease the likelihood of graduating.

Reversing these trends matters not just for our economy, but for notions of equity as well. The specter of student debt has the ability to fundamentally change student aspirations, and also raises the stakes of failure with regard to college completion—the rates of which have barely increased just as college costs and debt levels have increased….

Are Football Coaches Overpaid? Evidence from Their Employment Contracts

Source: Randall S. Thomas and R. Lawrence Van Horn, Vanderbilt University, Draft of August 25, 2014

The commentators and the media pay particular attention to the compensation of high profile individuals. Whether these are corporate CEOs, or college football coaches, many critics question whether their levels of remuneration are appropriate. In contrast, corporate governance scholarship has asserted that as long as the compensation is tied to shareholder interests, it is the employment contract and incentives therein which should be the source of scrutiny, not the absolute level of pay itself. We employ this logic to study the compensation contracts of Division I FBS college football coaches during the period 2005 – 2013. Our analysis finds many commonalities between the structure and incentives of the employment contracts of CEOs and these football coaches. The se contract s’ features are consistent with what economic theory would predict. As such we find no evidence that the structure of college football coach contracts is misaligned, or that they are overpaid.
On Sidelines, Researchers See C.E.O.s
Source: Steve Eder, New York Times, September 1, 2014

2014 Employee Healthcare and Other Benefits in Higher Education Survey

Source: College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, 2014

The Employee Healthcare and Other Benefits Survey collects data on the most representative healthcare and non-healthcare benefits offered to faculty and staff employed in a cross-section of the nation’s colleges and universities. Healthcare data is collected annually and non-healthcare data every two years. The latter includes basic life insurance, short- and long-term disability, paid time-off, tuition assistance and retirement benefits.

As a result of changes to healthcare benefits stemming from the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and in an effort to better control costs, many higher education institutions are passing more of the cost of healthcare along to their employees. According to findings from CUPA-HR’s 2014 Employee Healthcare and Other Benefits in Higher Education Survey, 41 percent of respondents have increased the employee share of premium costs since the ACA went into effect. Additionally, 26 percent have increased in-network deductibles, 27 percent have increased out-of-pocket limits, 20 percent have increased the employee share of prescription drug costs, and 24 percent have increased the employee share of dependent coverage costs. Many institutions are also ramping up their efforts to encourage healthy living among employees, with 36 percent of respondents indicating they have adopted or expanded a wellness program and 21 percent saying they have adopted or expanded the use of financial incentives to encourage healthy behaviors. …

Other Findings of Note:
Other findings from this year’s benefits survey:
PPO plans continue to be the plan of choice for a majority of institutions – 82 percent of respondents offer PPO plans. However, HDHPs continue to increase in popularity, with 44 percent of respondents offering this type of plan (up from 17 percent in 2009).
Sixty percent of institutions offer healthcare benefits to same sex domestic partners or spouses (up from 46 percent five years ago).
A substantial percentage of institutions offer healthcare benefits to part-time staff and faculty (42 percent and 36 percent, respectively), and most of those also pay part of the premium.
None of the institutions not offering healthcare benefits for part-time employees provide financial support for enrollment in a public exchange, and only 2 percent are considering doing so next year.
Almost all institutions provide basic life insurance, long-term disability, paid time-off, tuition assistance and retirement benefits. Short-term disability, however, is only offered by 64 percent of the respondents.
Press Release
Fact Sheet
3 Trends in Employee Benefits in Higher Ed

Learning About Medical Student Mistreatment From Responses to the Medical School Graduation Questionnaire

Source: Brian Mavis, Aron Sousa, Wanda Lipscomb, and Marsha D. Rappley, Academic Medicine, Volume 89 no. 5, May 2014

From the abstract:
Although evidence of medical student mistreatment has accumulated for more than 20 years, only recently have professional organizations like the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the American Medical Association truly acknowledged it as an issue. Since 1991, the AAMC’s annual Medical School Graduation Questionnaire (GQ) has included questions about mistreatment. Responses to the GQ have become the major source of evidence of the prevalence and types of mistreatment. This article reviews national mistreatment data, using responses to the GQ from 2000 through 2012; examines how students’ experiences have changed over time; and highlights the implications of this information for the broader medical education system. The authors discuss what mistreatment is, including the changing definitions from the GQ; the prevalence, types, and sources of mistreatment; and evidence of students reporting incidents. In addition, they discuss next steps, including better defining mistreatment, specifically public humiliation and belittling, taking into account students’ subjective evaluations; understanding and addressing the influence of institutional culture and what institutions can learn from current approaches at other institutions; and developing better systems to report and respond to reports of mistreatment. They conclude with a discussion of how mistreatment currently is conceptualized within the medical education system and the implications of that conceptualization for eradicating mistreatment in the future.

Advancing the Ivory-Collar/Blue-Collar Partnership

Source: James N. Gregory, Labor Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas, Vol. 11 no 3, Fall 2014
(subscription required)

In recent years, labor scholars in Washington have developed close relationships with the state labor council, the M. L. King County (Seattle) Labor Council, and key unions, in part through efforts such as the living-wage campaigns. LAWCHA president Nancy MacLean challenged us to develop “campus-labor-community partnerships” in her recent essay in Labor Rising, citing examples of creative organizing by Chicago-area faculty members affiliated with the Center for Working-Class Studies. I want to share some additional observations based on experiences in the Seattle area.

The ivory-collar/blue-collar relationship in Washington State rests primarily on two institutions, the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies at the University of Washington, founded in 1992, and the Pacific Northwest Labor History Association (PNLHA), which has held annual labor history conferences and other events in this region since the 1960s. Over the years, the Bridges Center and PNLHA have encouraged faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates to interact on many levels with unions and social-justice organizations both off and on campus. Here are three techniques used in Washington that labor academics at other institutions might find useful….
• Invitations …
• Press work …
• Labor Archives …

NLRB Director Finds Scholarship Athletes are Employees

Source: Barbara Jean D’Aquila and Margaret Rudolph, Employee Relations Law Journal, Vol. 40 no. 2, Autumn 2014
(subscription required)

A National Labor Relations Board Regional Director recently found that scholarship football players from Northwestern University are “employees” under the National Labor Relations Act and ordered that an election be conducted so that eligible football players can vote whether to form a union. The authors of this article discuss the decision and its implications.