Blog: Higher Ed Beat
“A bad attitude is like a bad tire: You can’t go anywhere until you change it,” Arizona State University sophomore Ricardo Nieland told a roomful of journalists gathered on the campus for a seminar on innovation in higher education earlier this month.
Nieland was speaking on a panel about college students who are among the first generation of family members to pursue a degree. The session addressed the struggles many of these young adults encounter in higher education.
Two numbers haunt the college landscape: $1.3 trillion and 40 percent.
The first is the ever-increasing debt Americans are shouldering to pay off the cost of a degree. But a growing chorus of experts believes that extraordinary sum obscures another crisis: For many, those debts wouldn’t be as devastating had they earned a degree. But only 40 percent of Americans complete a bachelor’s degree in four years.
The upshot is that millions of Americans earning meager wages are on the hook for thousands of dollars with almost nothing to show for it.
Hiring More Black and Latino Professors: ‘You Have to Want to Do That’
ASU President Michael Crow with his thoughts on faculty diversity
Why aren’t there more black and Latino college professors at elite institutions?
“There’s a lot of talk about the student debt crisis and I’m going to tell you that I don’t think there really is a student debt crisis,” said Debbie Cochrane, vice president at The Institute for College Access and Success. “What there are are multiple student debt crises.”
You’d be forgiven for thinking higher-education reporting is a game of billion-dollar bingo, with each aspect of the beat pegged to insane sums, such as the $1.3 trillion in student loan debt.
One way of answering whether students are getting a fair shake is to see if the colleges that educate them are spending the institution’s resources in ways that enable more college-goers to afford the cost of a postsecondary degree.
With 52 data points over 52 weeks, the University of Pennsylvania Center for Minority-Serving Institutions hopes to raise public awareness about these types of colleges and the return on investment they can offer.
Millions of high school graduates show up for the first day of college academically unprepared for the rigors of higher ed. And that’s where remedial (or “developmental”) education comes into play. Students don’t get academic credit for these classes even though they still cost them in time and money. And there’s another problem: being placed in even one remedial class as a freshman — particularly at a community college — can significantly reduce a student’s odds of ever completing a degree.
The number of Hispanics taking the ACT exam jumped 50 percent from 2011 to 2015. But only 15 percent of those test takers are scoring well enough to be deemed college-ready in all four subjects, compared to 28 percent of other students.
These figures starkly reflect “the gap between the level of aspiration and the level of readiness” required to thrive in college, said Juan Garcia, senior director of the ACT’s Office for the Advancement of Underserved Learners.
Margarita is a four-year-old girl living in East Harlem. She speaks Spanish at home with her Mexican-born parents, is obedient, well-behaved and plays well with kids her age, younger and older.
The Obama administration is rolling out an experimental program that will allow employers and training programs to partner with accredited universities to teach students work-related skills. This pilot will enable students to receive federal financial aid for programs such as coding boot camps that typically are ineligible for these funds.
Call them the top four percent: elite private colleges and universities that together sit atop three-quarters of the higher education terrain’s endowment wealth.
Among that group of 138 of the nation’s wealthiest colleges and universities, four in five charge poor students so much that they’d need to surrender 60 percent or more of their household incomes just to attend, even after financial aid is considered. Nearly half have enrollment rates of low-income students that place them in the bottom 5 percent nationally for such enrollment.
Do more public dollars flow to higher-income students attending public universities?
Some critics of the current public higher education model say that because wealthier students are more likely to attend top-tier public universities, which are better funded than other public institutions, these well-off students essentially receive a generous taxpayer-funded subsidy. Such critics also point to the fact that lower-income students tend to enroll at less-selective colleges that receive far less state support.