Category Archives: Higher Education

State Expenditure Report (Fiscal 2012-2014 Data)

Source: National Association of State Budget Officers, 2014

This annual report examines spending in the functional areas of state budgets: elementary and secondary education, higher education, public assistance, Medicaid, corrections, transportation, and all other. It also includes data on the State Children’s Health Insurance Program and on revenue sources in state general funds.

The latest edition of NASBO’s State Expenditure Report finds that total state spending in fiscal 2014 is estimated to have grown at its fastest pace since before the recession, largely due to an increase in federal Medicaid funds as a majority of states chose to expand enrollment under the Affordable Care Act. Total state spending growth in fiscal 2013 was more modest; however, total state expenditure did return to positive growth following declines in fiscal 2012.

Older Americans: Inability to Repay Student Loans May Affect Financial Security of a Small Percentage of Retirees

Source: United States Government Accountability Office, GAO-14-866T, September 10, 2014

From the summary:
Comparatively few households headed by older Americans carry student debt compared to other types of debt, such as for mortgages and credit cards. GAO’s analysis of the data from the Survey of Consumer Finances reveals that about 3 percent of households headed by those aged 65 or older—about 706,000 households—carry student loan debt. This compares to about 24 percent of households headed by those aged 64 or younger—22 million households. Compared to student loan debt, those 65 and older are much more likely to carry other types of debt. For example, about 29 percent carry home mortgage debt and 27 percent carry credit card debt. Still, student debt among older American households has grown in recent years. The percentage of households headed by those aged 65 to 74 having student debt grew from about 1 percent in 2004 to about 4 percent in 2010. While those 65 and older account for a small fraction of the total amount of outstanding federal student debt, the outstanding federal student debt for this age group grew from about $2.8 billion in 2005 to about $18.2 billion in 2013.

Organizing Within Our Changing Profession

Source: Academe, Volume 100, Issue 5, September-October 2014

Articles include:
Overcoming the Challenges of Contingent Faculty Organizing
By David Kociemba
How to organize and maintain a bargaining unit representing adjunct faculty.

Organizing for Advocacy
By Miranda Merklein
Building a new chapter at a community college where all faculty jobs are contingent.

Making a Tangible Difference in Campus Culture in One Year
By Simeon Dreyfuss
Chapter building at a small Catholic university with no tenure-track faculty.

Turning Back the Tide on Contingency
By Ron Bramhall
Balancing the needs of tenure-track and non-tenure-track faculty in a union contract.

The Secrets of Successful Membership Recruitment
By Christopher Vecsey
Creating an effective advocacy chapter at a private liberal arts university.

An Unsuccessful Organizing Campaign
By Sally Angel
A postmortem of a failed organizing campaign.

Safety, Security, and College Attainment: An Investigation of Undergraduates’ Basic Needs and Institutional Response

Source: Katharine Broton, Victoria Frank & Sara Goldrick-Rab, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Paper prepared for presentation at the annual meetings of the Association for Public Policy and Management, October 2014

There is increasing evidence that students from low-income families are facing great difficulties in covering the costs of college attendance, as need-based financial aid has not kept up with rising costs. For some students, these financial constraints can lead to difficult decisions about whether to sacrifice consistent access to food or secure and safe housing in order to remain in school. This paper examines evidence of these struggles among undergraduates and then turns to consider how institutional leaders are responding. Using quantitative and qualitative data from five states, we explore three types of responses. One group of leaders embraces the work of meeting students’ basic needs as part of the college mission and actively seeks strategies and solution, while another group expresses a desire to help but mainly engages in wishful thinking. At the same time, some institutional actors respond to students’ financial constraints by questioning whether or not they belong in college, raising concerns about their deservingness. Implications for future research, policy, and practice are discussed.

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