Category Archives: Higher Education

Building a Solid Foundation

Source: Sara Mead, New America Foundation, May 2009

In April, the states and school districts began receiving the first installment of more than $48 billion in federal economic stimulus funds for education and child care appropriated under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA). This unprecedented federal investment in education–from early childhood through college–is a tremendous opportunity for state and local investments to improve our nation’s schools. The danger is that states and school districts may squander these funds on ill-conceived projects or use them simply to maintain the status quo. It is critical that the states and school districts make wise decisions about how to spend the stimulus funds, using them not only to maintain educational services and jobs during the current economic downturn but also to institute lasting reforms that will yield ongoing gains in student learning and help fuel America’s long-term economic growth.

State Budget Shortfalls: Postsecondary Education Impacts

Source: Kristin Maloney, Education Commission of the States, May 2009

Prior to the passage of the ARRA, states faced budgetary shortfalls that forced cuts to postsecondary budgets. Since the passage of ARRA, state agencies and postsecondary education staff are relieved that many postsecondary budget cuts can be restored. A new ECS StateNote states that caution should be used when spending State Fiscal Stabilization Funds on programs or positions that require recurring funds. If states are not careful and thoughtful about how stabilization money is spent, they will face similar financial issues in two years.

Transforming America’s Community Colleges: A Federal Policy Proposal To Expand Opportunity and Promote Economic Prosperity

Source: Sara Goldrick-Rab, Douglas N. Harris, Christopher Mazzeo, Gregory Kienzl, Brookings Institution, Policy Brief, May 7, 2009

From the summary:
To renew America’s status as the world’s leader in college attainment, the federal government needs to transform America’s community colleges and equip them for the 21st century. This long-overdue investment should establish national goals and a related performance measurement system; provide resources to drive college performance toward those goals; stimulate greater innovation in community college policies and practices to enhance the quality of subbaccalaureate education; and support data systems to track student and institutional progress and performance.

Census Bureau Releases Data Showing Relationship Between Education and Earnings

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Press Release, April 27, 2009

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that workers with a bachelor’s degree earned about $26,000 more on average than workers with a high school diploma, according to new figures that outline 2008 educational trends and achievement levels. The tables also show that in 2008, 29 percent of adults 25 and older had a bachelor’s degree, and 87 percent had completed high school. That compares with 24 percent of adults who had a bachelor’s degree, and 83 percent who had completed high school in 1998.
See also:
Educational Attainment in the United States: 2008
2008 Detailed Tables

Financing the Dream: Securing College Affordability for the Middle Class

Source: Middle Class Task Force, Staff Report, April 2009

From the press release:
Many families save for college though tax-deferred savings plans called “529 plans” or simply “529s.” 529s are savings plans offered by states that let families save for college in a plan that works much like IRAs or 401(k) pension plans, wherein contributions receive some tax advantages. However, since the health of 529s depends to no small extent on the health of financial markets, at times like the present, when stocks and even fixed income investments have lost a great deal of their value, families can find their savings significantly diminished. This is especially tough for families whose children are ready to go to college, as such families don’t have the time needed to replenish their accounts as the market improves.

Today, Vice President Biden is asking the Treasury Department and the Secretary of Education to study ways of making 529 accounts more effective and reliable.

Financial Conditions Survey Report: The Current Financial Crisis and Its Effects on Public Systems and Institutions

Source: Cristin Toutsi and Rich Novak, Ingram Center for Public Trusteeship and Governance Association of Governing Board of Universities and Colleges, April 2009

This report provides an overview of current financial conditions in public higher education. Using such metrics as funding levels, budget cuts, strategies for cost reductions, creative board actions, tuition and financial aid levels, enrollment projections, private support, and current board practices, we have tried to capture the essence of the challenges college and university boards are facing and how they are responding.

Center for the Study of Collegiate Mental Health – 2009 Pilot Study

Source: Center for the Study of Collegiate Mental Health, 2009 Pilot Study, Executive Summary, 2009

The following report outlines a preliminary effort to describe the range of information on college student mental health that could be accessed via a comprehensive long-term strategy. As a result of nearly five years of unprecedented collaboration, a pilot test of the CSCMH infrastructure produced data on over 28,000 students receiving mental health services at 66 institutions during the fall semester of 2008. Though substantial, this accomplishment represents a fraction of the theoretical capacity of a mental health informatics infrastructure. Because it is not possible to discuss the entire range of findings in this summary, we have instead chosen to offer an overview of salient findings observable in the data. Whereas many of the findings described here will be submitted to peer-reviewed journals, we trust that these preliminary, informal findings will serve to educate, inspire, and enhance efforts to understand and improve college student mental health.

Weak Community College Budgets

Source: Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, April 8, 2009

Community college budgets were in a weakened state even before the full impact of the economic downturn hit. That’s the conclusion of the 2008 survey of the National Council of State Directors of Community Colleges.

The survey documents an increasing trend of midyear budget cuts — even before the recession neared its current magnitude — and notes past state patterns of responding to economic downturns in ways that do not bode well for community colleges or their students.