College Finance & Operations

Overview

College Finance & Operations

America spends nearly $700 billion a year on higher education, including paying instructors, funding research, keeping the facilities running and much more. At public universities, the biggest chunk of this comes from taxpayers, who deserve accountability for their money. So do students and their families, who fork over tuition and fees, and a fast-growing additional amount for room and board. At private, nonprofit institutions, the proportions are reversed, with more money coming from students than from taxpayers.

America spends nearly $700 billion a year on higher education, including paying instructors, funding research, keeping the facilities running and much more. At public universities, the biggest chunk of this comes from taxpayers, who deserve accountability for their money. So do students and their families, who fork over tuition and fees, and a fast-growing additional amount for room and board. At private, nonprofit institutions, the proportions are reversed, with more money coming from students than from taxpayers. Endowment investment returns are another important funding source for higher education institutions. 

For context, government spending on higher education exceeds federal subsidies to any other industry, including fossil fuel and farming. On top of that, higher education institutions collectively owe a quarter of a trillion dollars’ worth of debt and have been borrowing more than $40 billion a year more. 

These are big, big numbers. To show their impact, keep in mind that American families are increasingly struggling to afford tuition and fees that rose 25 percent faster than inflation in the last decade.

This makes investigating how colleges and universities spend this money one of the most important watchdog tasks for any education reporter. Readers, viewers and listeners want to know: Why do these costs keep rising so much faster than median family incomes? Are particular universities and colleges  spending responsibly and safeguarding their assets for the future? Is one school or another in financial trouble and in danger of closing?

Telling these crucial stories doesn’t necessarily require special expertise in finance or high-level math skills —  just the same thorough research techniques and healthy journalistic skepticism as covering anything else.

After all, colleges and universities are just like any other human institutions, run by people whose motivations range from idealism to self-interest. Many try to hide embarrassing financial information or even corruption; large, public universities, for example, often hide high salaries paid to endowment managers by spinning off private foundations not subject to public-records laws.

This Topics page will walk you through tools and techniques that can help you scale those walls to help your readers understand the $700 billion question of how colleges and universities manage — or mismanage — themselves. 

Updated May 2021

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History and Background: College Finance & Operations

Little has changed regarding the financial underpinnings of American higher education in the nearly 400 years since Rev. John Harvard gave his library to what would become known — in commemoration of his generosity — as Harvard College. That private contribution supplemented funding from the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and while Harvard would eventually become independent of the government, most universities and colleges are still supported by a combination of tuition and private and public funding.

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Glossary: College Finance & Operations

Auxiliary Services: Dining plans, dorms, convenience stores and other amenities that are increasingly important sources of revenue for universities and colleges. 

Bond Rating: A measure indicating a college’s ability to pay back the money it has borrowed from those to whom it has sold bonds, typically tracked by Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s. Ratings range from the top ranking of AAA to the lowest, CCC-.

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The Role of Endowments

Those vaunted multibillion-dollar university and college endowments that get so much attention ($630 billion in total at the 774 institutions that report their endowment performance to the annual NACUBO-TIAA Study of Endowments) are worth a closer look. For one thing, only 13 institutions are in the $10 billion-or-more club; the median endowment is about $144 million. Nearly four in 10 have $101 million or less.

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Decoding Financial Aid’s Impact on College Price

Hidden deep inside College Navigator is a particularly helpful clue to a university or college’s financial health: the proportion of its entering students who get institutional financial aid. At about 300 colleges and universities nationwide, all first-year students get institutional financial aid, evidence at wealthy institutions of admirable generosity, and at less-well-resourced ones, of potential desperation.

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How to Investigate a College’s Spending Trends

By definition, university finance and operations data is scattered among myriad sources, including everything from financial audits to enrollment reports and financial aid disbursements. There are also important and reliable sources of aggregate national data that can help put an institution’s individual performance into context.

Combine these numbers and they will often lead you to universities and colleges that, despite enrollment declines, have kept hiring, building and spending.

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The Other Kind of College Debt

While much of the attention about higher education borrowing is focused on student loans, universities and colleges have taken out extensive amounts of debt and collectively owe about a quarter of a trillion dollars, according to the Moody’s bond-rating agency. 

Debt at individual private institutions is also listed on their Form 990s (Part X, Line 20: “Tax-exempt bond liabilities”); most higher education debt is in municipal bonds.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

How to Cover the Fight Against COVID-19 on Campus
Tips and story ideas for reporters covering mask and vaccine minefields on campus

Universities are a “microcosm” of society, so the same fraught debates happening in society over mask and vaccine mandates are happening on college campuses, too, according to Howard University President Wayne A.I. Frederick.

Frederick shared this insight during a virtual panel at the Education Writers Association’s 2021 Higher Education Seminar on Oct. 19. Moderated by Francie Diep with The Chronicle of Higher Education, three university officials discussed the legal, political and health care forces at work in the fight against COVID-19 on campus.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

5 Tips for Reporting on Student Loan Debt After the Pandemic Pause
Get advice and ideas to localize stories that go beyond covering federal student loans.

The planned early 2022 restart of federal student loan payments will renew the nation’s attention to the approximately 42 million Americans who owe an estimated $1.6 trillion in education debt.

Reporters can find fresh angles and new information to help borrowers by pursuing accountability stories, and by paying particular attention to debt repayment, forgiveness and collections of overdue balances, three veteran reporters said at the Education Writers Association’s 2021 Higher Education Seminar.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

The Top Higher Education Stories Reporters Should Cover in 2022
The pandemic’s effects will continue to shape future coverage, policies and institutions.

From COVID-19 relief funding to massive endowments, money – which institutions have it, which don’t and how it is spent – will be key themes in higher education stories over the next year.

That’s the prediction Inside Higher Ed Editor Scott Jaschik gave during his session on “The Top 10 Higher Education Stories You’ll Be Covering This Year” at the Education Writers Association’s Higher Education Seminar in October.           

illustration of scale with money on one side and books with mortar cap on the other.
EWA Radio

The Billions of Dollars in Hidden Student Loan Debt
Students who fall behind on their loans to their for-profit colleges find themselves unable to move forward with their careers until the debt is paid off
(EWA Radio Episode 266)

The impact of America’s $1.5 trillion in student loan debt makes a lot of headlines. But one team of reporters dug into a little-known corner of the student debt market and discovered a pattern of rule-evading and abuses that is destroying the educational opportunities and careers of tens of thousands of Americans.

Reporter Roundtable: Following the Education Stimulus Funds in 2021
Webinar

Reporter Roundtable: Following the Education Stimulus Funds in 2021

The nearly $2 trillion stimulus package President Joe Biden signed into law last week contains an historic infusion of federal aid for schools, colleges and universities. Education journalists will play an important role in shedding light on the uses and impacts of that funding – over $125 billion for K-12 and nearly $40 billion for higher education.

Where exactly will the money from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 go? How will it be used? Will the funds “rescue” the schools and students with the highest needs?

EWA 74th National Seminar  graphic
Seminar

74th EWA National Seminar
Virtual, May 2-5, 2021

The Education Writers Association’s 74th National Seminar will focus on the theme of “Now What? Reporting on Education Amid Uncertainty.” Four afternoons of conversations, training and presentations will give attendees deeper understanding of these crises, as well as tools, skills and context to help them better serve their communities — and advance their careers. 

To be held May 2-5, 2021, the seminar will feature education newsmakers, including leaders, policy makers, researchers, practitioners and journalists. And it will offer practical data and other skills training. 

How Will Your Community Benefit From the New $81 Billion in Pandemic Relief for Education?
Webinar

How Will Your Community Benefit From the New $81 Billion in Pandemic Relief for Education?
Experts explain ins and outs of new aid flowing to schools and universities, and how to track it

More than $81 billion in new stimulus aid is coming to schools and universities as part of the new federal COVID relief measure. Get a quick introduction to tracking the money that will flow to the schools you cover in this EWA webinar.

Two policy experts explain:

Blog: The Educated Reporter

EWA Radio: Your Top 10 of ‘20 Holiday Playlist
From COVID-19 coverage to the politics of textbooks, catch up with the top podcast episodes of the year

While most of us won’t be traveling far this holiday season, we still need those essential holiday playlists. Catch up with the most popular episodes this year of the EWA Radio podcast, which features journalists discussing the backstories to their best education reporting. (It’s also a good time to subscribe, so you don’t miss any new episodes in ‘21!)

Member Stories

#tellEWA Member Stories (Nov. 27-Dec. 3)
Here's what we're reading by EWA members this week:

With an in-depth portrait of one second grader, The Washington Post’s Perry Stein looks at the high toll the pandemic is taking on students’ basic literacy skills in D.C. 

Writing for Chalkbeat, Jason Gonzales digs into whether the University of Colorado Boulder is meeting its mission to serve students from low-income families.  

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

The Top 11 Higher Ed Stories Likely to Make Headlines This Year
Inside Higher Ed's Scott Jaschik highlights COVID, Title IX, affirmative action and more

COVID-19 will continue to be a major story topic for the 2020-21 school year, but reporters should also look at the future of affirmative action and race on college campuses, according to Inside Higher Ed’s Scott Jaschik.

Jaschik, veteran higher education journalist and editor, listed his top 11 topics he thinks every higher education reporter should be ready to cover.

Webinar

Summer Means Sunlight: Investigative Angles on Education Stories in the COVID-19 Era

This webinar is co-hosted by Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) and EWA.

The pandemic is causing an unprecedented disruption to the education of millions of students nationwide, with more questions than answers. Whether you are an education beat reporter or are interested in investigating schools, colleges or universities, what are the stories this summer amid COVID-19 you can be working on? Join this webinar on Thursday, June 25, at 2 p.m. Eastern.

EWA Radio

What’s New With ‘Varsity Blues’
The latest on the college-admissions scandal, and how COVID-19 is reshaping what campuses will look like this fall
(EWA Radio: Episode 239)

With more celebrity defendants pleading guilty to using a high-priced fixer to help their kids cheat their way into top colleges, what’s been the impact on college admissions? The Wall Street Journal’s Melissa Korn, whose book on the “Varsity Blues” scandal has been optioned for a television project, discusses the latest developments, as well as the fallout more broadly for higher education.

Seminar

73rd EWA National Seminar

EWA’s National Seminar is the largest annual gathering of journalists on the education beat. 

This multi-day conference is designed to give participants the skills, understanding, and inspiration to improve their coverage of education at all levels. It also will deliver a lengthy list of story ideas. We will offer numerous sessions on important education issues, as well as on journalism skills.

Tip Sheet

EWA Tip Sheet: Writing About Colleges’ Finances Amid Coronavirus

This post was originally published on Journalist’s Resource. It has been republished here with permission of the author. 

Colleges across the country face deep financial losses after the coronavirus forced school officials to shutter campuses and cancel events. Administrators worry their money troubles will only get worse if enrollment, government funding and other sources of revenue continue to fall amid a likely recession.

Will The Coronavirus Drive Your College Out of Business?
Webinar

Will The Coronavirus Drive Your College Out of Business?

The pandemic has forced nearly every college in the country to cancel spring classes, sent endowments plunging, and slashed state tax revenues that had been funding public universities. That triple whammy has already driven some colleges out of business altogether. Many more are likely to follow. But which ones?

In this EWA webinar, Susan Fitzgerald, who analyzes the financial strength of colleges for the Moody’s Investors Service bond rating agency, explains how even math-averse journalists can investigate the financial outlook for the colleges they cover. 

Tip Sheet

EWA Tip Sheet: How to Tell If Your College Is Going Bankrupt

By scrutinizing enrollment data, external financial pressures, operating revenue and expenses, and tuition discounting, reporters can start spotting red flags in the finances of public and private colleges they cover. 

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Many Political Battles Over Higher Education Boil Down to Money
Partisans dispute how, how much, or even whether, taxpayers should support colleges

The political fault lines of higher education extend far beyond headline-grabbing student protests and furor over controversial speakers.

In fact, that sound and fury often distracts from a more practical political issue facing higher education today: How should Americans pay for college? Should students themselves bear the full costs of their education or should taxpayers help keep costs low? And if so, how should the burden be apportioned between state and federal taxes?

EWA Radio

Can Kansas Keep Its Best Students?
Sunflower State students face realities of 'College Economy'
(EWA Radio: Episode 203)

Kansas, like many states, is pouring millions of dollars into dual-credit programs, technical colleges and other initiatives aimed at preparing more students for the so-called “college economy,” where advanced training is a prerequisite for well-paying jobs. But are those investments paying off? In an eight-part series for the Kansas News Service, reporters Celia Llopis-Jepsen and Stephen Bisaha look at the state’s push to get more students into postsecondary programs, and to keep them from taking their highly desirable skill sets to employers in other states. 

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Top 10 Higher Education Story Ideas for 2019-20
Inside Higher Ed's Scott Jaschik says admissions, free speech and rising graduation rates will make headlines.

While the hottest higher education story of early 2019 involved celebrities trying to bribe their kids’ way into elite colleges,  many other important stories are likely to make news in the 2019-20 academic year, according to Scott Jaschik, editor of Inside Higher Ed.

The veteran higher education journalist and editor listed the 10 topics he thinks every higher education reporter should be ready to cover in the coming months. 

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Elections Have Consequences for Higher Ed

The 2018 midterm “blue wave” that split party control of the U.S. Congress and narrowed the Republican edge among governors to 27-23 will likely mean political battles over several higher education issues.

Finalist

A College Degree More Than 15 Years in the Making
The Edwin Gould Foundation Eddie Prize

Entry Credit

  • Casey Parks, The New Yorker

About the Entry

This article for The New Yorker offers a searing portrait of Dorian Ford, a single mother determined to graduate from Grambling State University, even as the historically black college faces its own institutional challenges. The piece also looks at underlying factors, including institutional racism and the impact of the economic recession on Ford’s life decisions and opportunities.

EWA Radio

Kansas Needs Nurses. So Why Do Engineering Schools Get More Money?
Dual credit programs, technical colleges getting big boost in Sunflower State
(EWA Radio: Episode 203)

Kansas, like many states, is pouring millions of dollars into dual-credit programs, technical colleges and other initiatives aimed at preparing more students for the so-called “college economy,” where advanced training is a prerequisite for well-paying jobs. But are those investments paying off? In an eight-part series for the Kansas News Service, reporters Celia Llopis-Jepsen and Stephen Bisaha look at the state’s push to get more students into postsecondary programs, and to keep them from taking their highly desirable skill sets to employers in other states. 

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Changing Demographics Mean Better College Odds for ‘Slugs’
A baby bust is forcing newsworthy changes to college admissions.

America’s declining birth rate has sweeping implications for the U.S. economy and society – especially its education system. Already, a decline in the number of 18-year-olds is forcing many colleges to take actions that journalists should cover, such as: changing recruiting practices, cutting costs, and, in some cases, going out of business, according to a panel of college officials, researchers and journalists speaking at a recent Education Writers Association seminar.

Seminar

72nd EWA National Seminar
Baltimore • May 6-8, 2019

EWA’s National Seminar is the largest annual gathering of journalists on the education beat. This year’s event in Baltimore, hosted by Johns Hopkins University’s School of Education, will explore an array of timely topics of interest to journalists from across the country, with a thematic focus on student success, safety, and well-being.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Education Dept. to Change College Scorecard, Be Less ‘Prescriptive’ With Accreditors, Officials Say

Federal education officials say they want to help students make more informed decisions about where to go to school, what college will cost, and what return on investment to expect – reflecting U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’s vision for reducing regulation of higher education while improving the public’s ability to exercise school choice.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

How Much Does College Really Cost?
Experts offer advice on reliable pricing data sources

Surveys indicate that the costs of college are now bigger worries for most applicants and families than the traditional anxieties about getting in.

It’s not just because of the shockingly high prices, such as the private colleges sporting sticker prices (tuition, room, board, books and miscellaneous expenses) north of $70,000 a year. Families are obsessed with costs in part because of  the surprising complexity and opacity of college prices.

Seminar

Higher Education Seminar Fall 2018
Las Vegas • UNLV • September 24-25, 2018

The Education Writers Association will hold its 2018 Higher Education Seminar Sept. 24-25 on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

The theme of this year’s intensive training event for journalists will be “Navigating Rapid Change.” This journalist-only event will offer two days of high-impact learning opportunities. The seminar will focus on how both postsecondary education and journalism are adjusting to an increasingly divisive political environment, the decline of traditional revenue sources, and continuing technological innovations that are upending much of the economy.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

How President Trump and the Republicans Are Changing Colleges
Impacts already being seen in admissions, student loans and for-profit colleges.

Even though a long-delayed update to a major higher education law appears to be stalled in the U.S. Senate, Republican policies are starting to influence colleges around the country because of orders and actions taken by the administration of President Donald Trump, according to a recent panel of Washington insiders and higher education leaders.

Speaking at the Education Writers Association’s 2018 National Seminar in May, the panelists highlighted three ways federal actions are affecting colleges around the country.

images of Timothy White and Janet Napolitano
Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Finances and Politics: Big Challenges for Public Universities

Public university systems have weathered wave after wave of difficulties in recent years – from shrinking state funding streams to intense public scrutiny and criticism – and it’s not likely to get easier anytime soon.

That’s according to the leaders of the two public university systems in California, a state that has long led the way on higher education for the rest of the nation.

Pedal to the Metal: Speeding Up Stalled Records Requests
Webinar

Pedal to the Metal: Speeding Up Stalled Records Requests

You file a freedom of information request with your local school district concerning financial data or a personnel investigation, but months later, there’s still no answer. What are the next steps, especially if your newsroom’s budget can’t stretch to cover the costs of suing for access? A veteran journalist and an expert on records requests offer strategies for success in making inquiries at the federal, state and local levels.

What Does the GOP Tax Overhaul Mean for Education?
Webinar

What Does the GOP Tax Overhaul Mean for Education?

With President Trump expected to sign GOP legislation approved this week to overhaul the tax code, analysts are scrambling to unpack the complicated GOP deal, including the stakes for education. The plan could make it much harder for some communities to pay for public schools, analysts say, while it offers a new tax break for private school tuition and other K-12 expenses. Meanwhile, last-minute dealmaking has led to key shifts in how the tax package will impact colleges and universities.

EWA 71st National Seminar Los Angeles graphic
Seminar

71st EWA National Seminar
Los Angeles • May 16-18, 2018

EWA’s National Seminar is the largest annual gathering of journalists on the education beat. This multiday conference provides participants with top-notch training delivered through dozens of interactive sessions on covering education from early childhood through graduate school. Featuring prominent speakers, engaging campus visits, and plentiful networking opportunities, this must-attend conference provides participants with deeper understanding of the latest developments in education, a lengthy list of story ideas, and a toolbox of sharpened journalistic skills.

EWA Radio

The Tax Bill: What Education Reporters Need to Know
Public schools and universities on edge over Republican plan for overhaul

The tax legislation congressional Republicans are rushing to complete has potentially big stakes for education. Critics suggest it will translate into a big financial hit for public schools and universities, as the rules for education-related deductions, revenue-raising bond measures and more are potentially tightened. Andrew Ujifusa of Education Week and Eric Kelderman of The Chronicle of Higher Education offer a primer on the House and Senate versions of the tax-code overhaul, including key differences lawmakers still must hammer out.

Lies, Damn Lies and College Affordability Statistics
Webinar

Lies, Damn Lies and College Affordability Statistics

Everybody says college is expensive. But exactly how costly are the colleges you cover? At 1 p.m. EST on Dec. 14, journalists participated in a free one-hour training webinar on two new and as-yet little-known data tools. They learned ways to quickly find the most reliable and relevant data on costs, prices and affordability.

Attendees had the opportunity to hear from – and pose questions to – two of the most knowledgeable college cost data experts in the country.

EWA Radio

Why Public Research Universities Are Struggling
Higher education enrollment downturns, federal funding predictions, and how U.S. global competitiveness could be at risk.

For a growing number of public universities, particularly in the midwest, what was once a push for academic excellence is now more like a battle for survival, as detailed by The Hechinger Report’s Jon Marcus in a new piece for Washington Monthly. What happened? Enrollment drops, funding cuts and shifting public attitudes toward higher education.

Seminar

Higher Ed 2017: Covering Campus Conflict in the Time of Trump
Atlanta • October 2–3, 2017

From heated debates over free speech to the Trump administration’s threats to deport undocumented students, these are tense times on college campuses. For reporters who cover higher education, questions abound and important stories need to be told. 

On Oct. 2-3, EWA will bring together journalists at Georgia State University in Atlanta to explore pressing issues in education after high school. (Here’s the preliminary agenda.) At this journalist-only seminar you will hear:

Agenda

Covering Campus Conflict in the Time of Trump: Agenda
Atlanta • October 2–3, 2017

Monday, October 2, 2017

9:45– 11:30 a.m.: (Optional) Journalists’ Tour of CNN

CNN has graciously agreed to give 20 EWA members a journalists-only tour of their newsroom, and a chance to talk with members of CNN’s newsgathering, digital and data analysis teams to learn about their state-of-the art techniques of building traffic. The tour will start at 10 a.m. Monday, Oct. 2 at CNN’s Atlanta headquarters, located at One CNN Center, Atlanta, GA 30303. Please be at the entryway at 9:45 a.m. so you can go through security.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

The Future of For-Profit Colleges

Despite high-profile scandals over cost and credentials, for-profit colleges attract hundreds of thousands of new students each year, enrolling an estimated 10 to 13 percent of higher education students.

Agile in delivery and content, these educational entrepreneurs can pivot to meet demand faster than typically tradition-corseted nonprofit institutions, argued Neal McCluskey of the Cato Institute.  

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

College Presidents Discuss What the Purdue-Kaplan Deal Means for Higher Ed

There’s no question that higher ed is undergoing a sea change. Soaring student costs, unpredictable swings in state funding and an increasing demands from employers for highly skilled graduates are just a few reasons university leaders are scrambling for formulas that work.

EWA Radio

No Relief: Who’s Holding Student Loan Debt Companies Accountable?
EWA Radio: Episode 128

A new investigation by NerdWallet’s public-interest journalism team focuses on student loan debt-relief companies that promise consumers savvy fiscal help but too often do little to actually lighten their load — and, in some cases, actually increase borrowers’ financial burdens. Reporters Richard Read and Teddy Nykiel discuss who is — and isn’t — holding these companies accountable. What would need to change at the state and federal levels to improve consumer protections?

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

College Admissions: The V.I.P. Treatment
Do students from wealthy or politically connected families get preference in the admissions process?

The wealthy and politically connected have many advantages in life. But do they really have an edge getting into the best colleges?

Some impressive investigative work by two journalists in Texas and Virginia reveals that family money and influence appear to have helped students get into at least two top public universities.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

From ‘Sugar Daddies’ to College Mailboxes: Reporters Share ‘How I Did the Story’

Nick Anderson didn’t have to be asked twice to get on a train to New York City.

A professor at Columbia University called the veteran Washington Post reporter last summer. She told him she had spoken with students who were making ends meet by engaging in the sex trade, hooking up with older men on “sugar daddy” websites.

“She asked me, ‘Would you be interested in writing about something like this?’” Anderson relayed to a room full of journalists who had assembled for a session at the Education Writers Association’s annual spring conference.

EWA Radio

Go West, Young Students: California’s Free Community College Boom
EWA Radio: Episode 114

Ashley Smith of Inside Higher Ed discusses why the Golden State is leading the nation in free community college initiatives. Currently, a quarter of all such programs nationally are located at California institutions. The growth is a mix of grassroots efforts by individual campuses, cities, and community organizations. At the same time, California’s Democratic lawmakers are pushing for a statewide effort to add even more free seats at two-year colleges.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Would Free College Lead to Too Many Graduates?

The presidential election pushed grassroots proposals to make public college free into the mainstream. But should these plans stay there? And if so, in what form, now that the most prominent supporters of those proposals lost the race for the White House?

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

State Funding for Higher Education Up 3.4 Percent

A new report finds that state funding for higher education continues to show growth overall, but each state has its own tale to tell, particularly those that aren’t keeping pace with the trend. Support for higher education in state budgets rose by 3.4 percent across the country from the 2015-16 to 2016-17 fiscal years, preliminary data from the latest Grapevine survey shows.

Report

As Cuomo Proposal Rekindles Free College Movement, New Research Provides Ammunition for Skeptics
Brookings Institution

In early January, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York announced his intention to make a public college education tuition-free for most students in the state. The proposal has breathed life back into the free college movement, which supporters feared would lose momentum under the incoming presidential administration. Instead, momentum has simply relocated (back) to the state level. Tennessee and Oregon already have their own “free college” initiatives, and just this week, Governor Gina Raimondo proposed a version for Rhode Island.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Wealthier Grad Students Earn the Most Lucrative Degrees

More Americans are pursuing graduate degrees, but it’s the students from wealthier backgrounds who are most likely to earn the degrees that pay the most, a new report shows.

“I think that the idea that people from low-income backgrounds are so unlikely ever to get to medical school or law school is definitely a problem,” said Sandy Baum, a renowned scholar on the economics of higher education and a co-writer of the report.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Who Benefits from New York’s Free College Plan?

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to make tuition free year at New York’s public colleges and universities for students from families earning less than $125,000 is being touted as a shot across the progressive bow. As the new Congress and White House tout a conservative agenda, the governor is offering a playbook that states could use to capitalize on the liberal currents that crisscrossed the Democratic presidential primaries.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Public Universities Have ‘Really Lost Our Focus’
Q&A with Christopher Newfield

Since the 1970s, a “doom loop” has pervaded higher education, writes Christopher Newfield in his new book The Great Mistake: How We Wrecked Public Universities and How We Can Fix Them. Newfield, a professor of American Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, calls this loop “privatization” – the hidden and overt ways that “business practices restructure teaching and research.”

Seminar

Doing More With Higher Ed Data: From Policy to Newsrooms
Philadelphia • February 2–3, 2017

With colleges and universities under increased pressure to ensure that more students earn degrees without amassing mountains of debt, journalists are at the forefront in examining how these institutions  measure up. But there’s one major obstacle that both colleges and reporters share when it comes to making sense of how well these schools are meeting their goals: insufficient data.

By Shenandoah University Office of Marketing and Communications (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Blog: Higher Ed Beat

College Completion Failures Must Be Tackled in Tandem With Costs, Report Says

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.

By Dwight Burdette, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Understanding the Student Loan-Debt Picture

“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.”

Know the Score: Finding Stories in College Scorecard Data
Webinar

Know the Score: Finding Stories in College Scorecard Data

How many first-generation students does a college have? How much does the school charge students from families earning $30,000 versus more than $75,000? And how many students are repaying their student loan debt three years after college?

Analyzing College Endowments: Do’s and Don’ts
Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Analyzing College Endowments: Do’s and Don’ts

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. 

Swarthmore College, where 13 percent of the student body receives Pell grants, has an endowment of $1.5 billion, and spent 3.7 percent of it in 2013.By Kungming2 CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Blog: Higher Ed Beat

The ‘$500 Million Club’ of Colleges Tends to Be Stingy With Aid to Low-Income Students

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.

Image of UCLA, a high-performing public university with 39 percent of its students receiving Pell grants in 2013-14. Flickr/Prayitno (CC BY 2.0)
Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Study: Rich College Students Don’t Receive More State Money Than Poor Students

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.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Seven Higher Ed Stories Journalists Should Be Covering This Year

Inside Higher Ed Editor Scott Jaschik started his annual listing of higher education stories ripe for coverage this upcoming year by asking journalists to do better when choosing which news developments to cover.

In May, just before Jaschik’s presentation at the Education Writers Association’s conference in Boston, President Obama’s daughter Malia had recently committed to attending Harvard University and taking a “gap year.”

By Bjoertvedt (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Blog: Higher Ed Beat

The Republican Plan For Higher Education: Less Red Tape And Less Money

Past is prologue.

That’s what Republicans promise in the higher education platform they’ll finalize at their national convention in Cleveland: an approach that follows the direction they’ve already taken in Congress.

Fewer regulations for colleges and universities. Less red tape for students.

Less money.

“Obviously what we do legislatively is a statement of our philosophy and our principles,” said Virginia Foxx, Republican chair of the House subcommittee that oversees higher education and co-chair of the GOP platform committee.

Report

The Growing Size and Incomes of the Upper Middle Class
Urban Institute

This report uses absolute income thresholds adjusted for inflation and family size to show that the size of the upper middle class grew from 12.9 percent of the population in 1979 to 29.4 percent in 2014. In terms of shares of total income, the middle class controlled a bit more than 46 percent of all incomes in 1979, while the upper middle class and rich controlled 30 percent. By 2014, the rich and upper middle class controlled 63 percent of all incomes, while the middle class share had shrunk to 26 percent.

Pixabay/0TheFool
Blog: Higher Ed Beat

A Look at the Student Loan Interest Rates for Fall

College students this fall likely will save some money on their federal student loans because of declining interest rates.

Starting July 1, the loans that millions of students rely on to finance their higher education hopes will drop by about half of a percentage point. The new rates, calculated by the advocacy group The Institute for College Access & Success, are:

Source: The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP)
Blog: Higher Ed Beat

States Have Cut Money For Higher Education 17 Percent Since The Recession, Report Finds

This post was updated. 

In spite of a gradual economic recovery and improving revenues, most states are spending dramatically less on public higher education, a new report says.

States are collectively investing 17 percent less in their public colleges and universities, or $1,525 less per student, since 2007, according to the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which used inflation-adjusted figures.

Flickr/Salvation Army USA West (CC BY 2.0)
Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Higher Ed: Hunger on Campus

The stereotypes of the financially struggling college students are well-known. They live on ramen, share an apartment or house with several roommates, and work part-time for money to buy beer. They get summer jobs to cover college tuition and expenses. And they come from middle- and upper-class families, so if they do struggle sometimes to pay the bills, that scarcity is hip and cool.

Source: NACUBO
Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Financial Aid ‘Arms War’ Continues to Drain Cash From Colleges

The nation’s private colleges are distributing more dollars to attract students at a speed that threatens to unravel their fiscal health, new figures suggest.

Eighty-eight percent of first-time, full-time freshmen received tuition discounts this year and last, according to a survey of 401 private, nonprofit colleges released today by the National Association of College and University Business Officers. The average grant awarded in this academic year covered about 56 percent of tuition and fees.

Atomic Taco/Flickr (Highline Community College)
Blog: Higher Ed Beat

State-by-State Rankings of College Affordability

An affordable college education. Politicians and bus stop ads promise it, students and parents dream of it. But can anyone define it?

Authors of one data-rich report tried their best to bring this vague yet crucial concept into focus by answering a simple question: What percent of your income would you need to pay to go to college in each state?

Source: Flickr/ via Alan Light (CC BY 2.0)
Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Report: Latino Graduation Rates Highest at Selective Institutions

The more selective the institution, the higher the graduation rate for Latino students, a new study by Excelencia in Education shows. 

At selective colleges and universities — those that admit less than half of applicants — 68 percent of Latino students graduate and are more likely to do so on time. At other four-year institutions and two-year colleges, the Latino graduation rates are 47 and 17 percent, respectively. 

Flickr/Sharada Prasad CS (CC BY 2.0)
Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Former Chancellors of Research Universities Warn Their Future Is in Peril
New Report Urges Dramatic Changes to Save a System That’s “Breaking Down”

The system for funding American flagship public universities is “gradually breaking down,” said Robert J. Birgeneau, a former chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley, and the co-chair of a two-year project to examine the role of public research universities and recommend changes to help them stay competitive.

b r e n t/Flickr (CC By 2.0)
Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Students Rich and Poor Are Stressed Out Over Paying for College

A survey of the nation’s college freshmen indicates a class of young adults stressed out about the cost of financing a degree, even if they’re relatively well off.

The study by UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute lends new insight into not only the concerns young college students have about their debt loads, but also the effects high school experiences have on their attitudes about higher education.

Report

Trends in College Spending: 2003-2013 – Where Does the Money Come From? Where Does It Go? What Does It Buy?
American Institutes for Research

Trends in College Spending: 2003–2013 examines college and university finances during one of the most turbulent economic periods in decades. The financial ramifications of the 2008 recession were vast, affecting students’ ability to pay for college, lawmakers’ prioritization of public resources, and the budgetary environment facing higher education leaders. The challenges brought by the fiscal crisis also provided colleges and universities with an opportunity to reevaluate how they allocated resources and rethink how to manage costs and improve student outcomes.

Seminar

Higher Ed 2016
September 16–17 • Tempe, Arizona

What new techniques and practices should higher education embrace to ensure that more students graduate? Join the Education Writers Association September 16–17 at Arizona State University to explore cutting-edge innovations that aim to address financial, academic, and social barriers. More on the seminar theme.

This annual seminar is one of the largest gatherings of journalists covering postsecondary education. Network with others covering this beat and step up your coverage for the upcoming academic year.

Arizona State University
Tempe, Arizona
(Bigstock/michaeljung)
Webinar

Seven Challenges First-Generation College Students Face & How to Write About Them

While many first-generation students are excited and ambitious when they step on campus — eager to beat the odds and become the first in their families to earn a college degree — others struggle with guilt, fear and loneliness, sometimes even struggling to remember why they decided to attend college in the first place. And they grapple with these feelings while they also have to figure out how to apply for financial aid, register for classes, and manage the other necessities of undergraduate life knowing they can’t turn to their families for guidance based on experience.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Debt-Free College: Why It’s News Now

As Democratic presidential hopefuls assemble in Las Vegas today for their first formal debate, one topic that has received little airtime during the Republican face-offs is likely to garner far more attention: the high cost of attaining a college degree.

Students of the culinary program at Valencia College in Orlando demonstrate their kitchen skills. (Source: Twitter/@GabrielleRusson)
Blog: Higher Ed Beat

The New Effort to Link College to Careers

As tuitions swell and student loan debt climbs further, one aspect of higher education that has been overlooked is the recipe required to transform a college education into a set of skills that prepares students for the workspace.

As it turns out, neither colleges nor employers have a firm grasp on what flavor that special sauce should have, reporters learned at “The Way to Work: Covering the Path from College to Careers” – the Education Writers Association’s seminar on higher education held in Orlando Sep. 18-19.

Seminar

69th EWA National Seminar

The Education Writers Association, the national professional organization for journalists who cover education, is thrilled to announce that its annual conference will take place from Sunday, May 1, through Tuesday, May 3, 2016, in the historic city of Boston.

Co-hosted by Boston University’s College of Communication and School of Education, EWA’s 69th National Seminar will examine a wide array of timely topics in education — from early childhood through career — while expanding and sharpening participants’ skills in reporting and storytelling.

Boston, Massachusetts
Flickr/COD Newsroom (CC BY 2.0)
Blog: The Educated Reporter

Student Debt Forgiveness Program Adding Up

A government program that allows student loan borrowers to reduce their monthly payments significantly is growing in popularity – and increasingly eating into U.S. federal coffers.

The U.S. Department of Education is sticking to the rosier news in a brief report released this week that shows the number of U.S. student loan holders enrolled in income-based repayment plans has jumped by more than 50 percent since last year. According to the government, 3.9 million borrowers have signed up for income-based repayment plans as of June of this year.

New Insights on State Funding for Higher Education
Multimedia

New Insights on State Funding for Higher Education
2015 EWA National Seminar

The Great Recession saw most states drastically cut their spending on public colleges, leading most of those colleges to increase their tuition. As the national economy continues to recover, how has state funding for postsecondary education fared and what does it mean for students and their families?

  • Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, The Washington Post (Moderator)
  • Daniel Hurley, American Association of State Colleges and Universities
  • Laura Perna, University of Pennsylvania
  • Ray Scheppach, University of Virginia
Can FAFSA Be Fixed?
Multimedia

Can FAFSA Be Fixed?
2015 EWA National Seminar

How many questions does the crucial federal financial aid form really need? Proposals to simplify have ranged from trimming the form’s dozens of questions to replacing the form with just few queries on a postcard. This session illuminates how key questions can affect how much aid a student receives.

Students rally in San Francisco for relief from their student loan debt. (Flickr/jjinsf94115)
Blog: The Educated Reporter

Asking the Right Questions About Student Loan Debt

There’s no doubt about it: Student loans can be a big financial burden to recent college graduates.

But if borrowers are provided with more information on repayment plans and other tools to help manage debt, chances are they’ll be less likely to default on their loans, according to a panel conversation on student loans at the Education Writers Association’s 2015 national conference in Chicago.

Students and faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee rally against proposed state budget cuts to higher education. (Flickr/marctasman)
Blog: The Educated Reporter

Do States Undervalue Higher Education?

Tuition caps, budget cuts and wayward priorities when it comes to funding higher education — oh, my.

It’s time for states to decide the value of higher education. Or rather, it’s time for state leaders to decide if they value higher education enough to fund it properly.

EWA Radio

After Pushback, White House Yields on College Ratings
EWA Radio: Episode 28

After nearly two years of public debate, and vociferous pushback from the higher education community, the White House announced it is pulling back on plans to rate the nation’s colleges based on a complex matrix of performance measures and student outcomes. Paul Fain, news editor for Inside Higher Ed has been following this story closely since the beginning, and he helped break the news that the Obama administration was scrapping the most controversial parts of its original proposal.

He spoke with EWA public editor Emily Richmond about who’s surprised by the decision (hint: not a lot of people), and the role played by aggressive lobbying against the rating plan by much of the higher education community. Fain and Richmond also discussed college ratings and consumer tools already available, and how to answer parents and students who ask for advice on choosing a school.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

An ‘H’ for ‘Hispanic’ at Many HBCUs

Small class sizes, athletic scholarship opportunities and track records for serving low-income, first-generation college students could be what’s driving the growth of populations of Hispanic students at historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs

Flickr/Velkr0
Blog: The Educated Reporter

Keeping Track of For-Profit Colleges

With a top advocate for for-profit colleges at her right, and a man leading the legal campaign against wayward for-profits at her left, Chronicle of Higher Education financial reporter Goldie Blumenstyk jokingly reassured her audience: “Despite what this looks like, it’s not going to be a debate.”

Story Lab

Story Lab: Making Federal Data a Gold Mine for Your Reporting

Need a state or national statistic? There’s likely a federal data set for that. From fairly intuitive and interactive widgets to dense spreadsheets — and hundreds of data summaries in between — the U.S. Department of Education’s various research programs are a gold mine for reporters on the hunt for facts and figures.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Vegas Campus Claims Nevada’s First HSI Title

On Monday, the College of Southern Nevada became the state’s first Hispanic-serving institution — a designation that two more Nevada colleges also might earn in the near future as the Las Vegas Valley’s Latino population continues to grow. 

Report

State Funding Trends and Policies on Affordability
U.S. GAO

From fiscal years 2003 through 2012, state funding for all public colleges decreased, while tuition rose. Specifically, state funding decreased by 12 percent overall while median tuition rose 55 percent across all public colleges. The decline in state funding for public colleges may have been due in part to the impact of the recent recession on state budgets. Colleges began receiving less of their total funding from states and increasingly relied on tuition revenue during this period.

Flickr/ meddygarnet (CC BY 2.0)
Blog: The Educated Reporter

Merit System? The Choices Colleges Make in Providing Financial Aid

Name the batch of funding that accounts for a quarter of the money that public universities dole out in financial aid. Can’t?

It’s called merit aid, and a large portion of the college-going public is paying its way through school relying on it. One-third of all undergraduates receive merit aid; the same is true for nearly half of all private school students. Hope Scholarships in Tennessee and Georgia are examples of merit aid programs, though merit aid often comes from the institutions directly.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Reporting on College Financial Aid? EWA Can Help

Who deserves money for college more: students whose test scores and grades qualify them for “merit aid” or students with greater financial need who might be unable to afford college otherwise? New research suggests that colleges might increasingly be favoring less-needy students, in a quest to boost their schools’ rankings and help their bottom lines. Does that finding hold up to scrutiny? And how do colleges’ decisions on need-based versus merit aid affect college enrollment and completion?

Report

A Great Recession, a Great Retreat
David A. Bergeron, Elizabeth Baylor, Antoinette Flores, Center for American Progress

Public investment in higher education is vital to the performance of our economy. First and foremost, America’s public colleges and universities offer citizens a steadfast path toward personal economic growth and opportunity. An educated workforce also delivers a substantial return on public investment in the form of economic expansion through sustained employment, higher earnings, new and continued business development, and ultimately, higher tax revenues.

© PamelaJoeMcFarlane (Source: iStock)
Blog: The Educated Reporter

Deciphering Student-Loan Default Rates

The federal government today released a snapshot of how well borrowers with federal student loans are repaying their debts, indicating that fewer Americans are defaulting on their college loans compared to past years, but that the figures still exceed pre-recession levels.

Report

A Federal Work Study Reform Agenda to Better Serve Low-Income Students
Young Invincibles

Decades ago, a young person could graduate from high school, join a company, and receive all the training on the job that she or he needed for a successful career. Today, the world is different. A young man with only a high school diploma now earns 75 cents on the inflation-adjusted dollar his father made in 1980. Even worse, a brutal recession and sluggish recovery has young people confronting double-digit unemployment rates. Fierce competition for entry-level positions requires our generation to not only acquire post-secondary education, but also gain on-the-job experience and skills.

Report

Colleges’ Pursuit of Prestige and Revenue Is Hurting Low-Income Students

Fifty years ago, the federal government committed itself to removing the financial barriers that prevent low-income students from enrolling in and completing college. For years, colleges complemented the government’s efforts by using their financial aid resources to open their doors to the neediest students. But a new report from New America suggests those days are in the past, with an increasing number of colleges using their financial resources to fiercely compete for the students they most desire: the “best and brightest” — and the wealthiest.

Michelle Asha Cooper(L), director of the Institute for Higher Education Policy, speaks at the Higher Education Seminar put on by the Education Writers Association and hosted by Southern Methodist University (Credit: SMU 2014, Photo by Kim Leeson)
Blog: The Educated Reporter

Experts: The White House Plan to Rate Colleges Has Major Issues

A new rating system backed by the White House aims to evaluate nearly all of the nation’s colleges and universities. Roughly 6,000 schools that educate around 22 million students are about to endure an unprecedented amount of federal scrutiny.

And though a version of the Postsecondary Institution Ratings System is scheduled to be unveiled in the fall, policy watchers are still unsure of what’s in store.

Source: Flickr/College of DuPage Newsroom
Blog: The Educated Reporter

How to Help the 21st Century College Student

When Mark Milliron met with an advertising team to promote a new type of college in Texas, he wasn’t expecting fireworks. Still, the pitch floored him.

“The Texas Two-Step: Sign Up. Succeed.”

It was the sentence that would appear on billboards and in radio advertisements, enticing thousands of working adults to enroll in an online college – Western Governors University Texas. And it totally missed the point.

Report

A College Education Saddles Young Households with Debt, but Still Pays Off
Daniel Carroll and Amy Higgins

The labor market bonus for completing a college degree is not fully realized in the early years of working. Looking at the wage income of households headed by an individual between 30 and 65 years of age reveals a much larger premium, both at the median and the 90th percentile. In many professions, a college degree combined with work experience opens the door to senior-level administrative positions and higher salaries. The average wage-income premium among these older households was 88 percent for degree-holding median earners and 93 percent for 90th percentile earners.

Post

At What Cost?
How Community Colleges that Do Not Offer Federal Loans Put Students at Risk

With Americans increasingly having to borrow to pay for college, a new report from The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS) finds that nearly one million community college students cannot get federal student loans because their school chooses not to offer them. Without access to federal student loans, students may not be able to stay enrolled without turning to more costly and risky forms of borrowing such as credit cards or private loans, or reducing their chances of graduating by working longer hours or cutting back on classes.
 

Seminar

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Covering the College Student Experience
2014 Higher Ed Seminar

For many college students — whether fresh out of high school or adults returning to school — their most serious obstacles to a degree won’t be homework or tests, but rather the challenges of navigating student life. Colleges are now being forced to face the longstanding problems that have often led to students’ flailing and failing on their own. 

Report

The One Percent at State U
Institute for Policy Studies

State universities have come under increasing criticism for excessive executive pay, soaring student debt, and low-wage faculty labor. In the public debate, these issues are often treated separately. Our study examines what happened to student debt and faculty labor at the 25 public universities with the highest executive pay (hereafter “the top 25″) from fall 2005 to summer 2012 (FY 2006 – FY 2012). Our findings suggest these issues are closely related and should be addressed together in the future.

Scott Jaschik addresses reporters at EWA's 67th National Seminar at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.
Blog: The Educated Reporter

Top 10 Higher Education Stories You Should Be Covering

For higher education reporters, Inside Higher Ed editor Scott Jaschik’s annual top-10 list of story ideas is a highlight of EWA’s National Seminar. This year at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Jaschik kicked off his roundup with  an issue that has affected many institutions around the country: sexual assault. The key to covering this story, he said, is not to imply that this is a new problem. Increased attention from the White House has challenged the ways that many colleges have addressed these incidents.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Why Did a ‘Hispanic’ University Fail?

When the National Hispanic University opened in California in 1981, founder B. Roberto Cruz was frustrated about how few Latinos were enrolled in college.

NPR reports that the San Jose-based university’s mission was to create a culturally sensitive space for Latino college students in the same way that historically black colleges and universities had done for black students many years earlier.

Report

U.S. GAO – Federal Student Loans: Better Oversight Could Improve Defaulted Loan Rehabilitation

The Department of Education (Education) relies on collection agencies to assist borrowers in rehabilitating defaulted student loans, which allows borrowers who make nine on-time monthly payments within 10 months to have the default removed from their credit reports. Education works with 22 collection agencies to locate borrowers and explain repayment options, including rehabilitation.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

‘How I Did the Story’: Award-Winning Higher Ed Reporters Share Their Skills

Here’s a little gift for the holidays: Advice from higher education reporters who won the top prizes in EWA’s National Awards for Education Writing.They shared their perspectives with attendees at our 66th National Seminar, held at Stanford University.We asked Samantha Hernandez of the Door County Advocate to contribute today’s guest post.

Higher Ed Beat: What Are the Top 10 Stories on College Campuses?
Blog: The Educated Reporter

Higher Ed Beat: What Are the Top 10 Stories on College Campuses?

I’ll admit it – I look forward every fall when Scott Jaschik shares his “cheat sheet”of story ideas at EWA’s annual Higher Education Seminar.This year we met at Northeastern University, and Scott didn’t disappoint.We asked journalists who attended the seminar to contribute posts, and today’s guest blogger is Michael Vasquez of the Miami Herald.For more on higher education issues, including community colleges,

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Obama’s College Proposal: The Shape of Ratings to Come

EWA held its annual Higher Education Seminar recently at Boston’s Northeastern University. We invited some of the education journalists in attendance to contribute posts from the sessions. Today’s guest blogger is Mary Beth Marklein of USA Today. For more content from the seminar, including stories, podcasts, video, check out EdMedia Commons.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

How I borrowed a lot and paid back a little: A writer’s take on Income Based Repayment

In May of my senior year at Union College (See photo), the only thing I was thinking about was passing finals and completing papers with pretentious titles.  Postgraduation plans, like a job, were nothing more than vapors momentarily wafting in the way of those footnotes buried in my textbooks.  I had no idea what kind of job I’d get, but I did know one thing for certain: I’d wrap up my college education with roughly $17,000 in federally subsidized debt.

Webinar

What’s the Price? ‘Pay As You Earn’ and Income-Based Repayment
57 minutes

Who will benefit more from the federal government’s new “Pay As You Earn” income-based repayment program for student loans: Recent graduates struggling to find jobs in a tough economy? Or high-paid professionals such as lawyers and business executives, who might be able to wipe away tens of thousands of dollars of student loan debt? Why are the income-based repayment options so underused when as many as one out of five borrowers has fallen behind on payments?

Report

State Higher Education Finance 2012

State and local government financial commitment to higher education has increased substantially over the past twenty-five years. In 1987, state and local governments combined provided $33.3 billion in direct support for general operating expenses of public and independent higher education institutions. This investment increased to $50.3 billion in 1997, $82.7 billion in 2007, and $88.8 billion by 2008 (the high point in national aggregate funding).

10 Higher Education Stories You Should Be Covering This Year
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10 Higher Education Stories You Should Be Covering This Year

Inside Higher Ed’s Scott Jaschik talks to reporters about 10 stories he wants to see in 2013 (added bonus: three “don’ts” to observe while covering the higher ed beat).

This address was a part of “Degrees vs. Debt: Making College More Affordable,” EWA’s Nov. 2-3 2012 seminar for higher ed reporters at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

EWA Radio

Who’s Subsidizing Whom and Other Secrets of Tuition Pricing

When students pay different amounts to take the same courses, does one student’s tuition go toward another’s education? We take close look at this debate as part of a discussion of the factors that college and university administrators consider when they determine tuition prices. Panlists: Jon Marcus, Hechinger Report (moderator); Steve Hurlburt, Delta Cost Project; Paul Lingenfelter, State Higher Education Executive Officers; Richard Vedder, Ohio University/Center for College Affordability and Productivity.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Making Sure the College Completion Numbers Add Up

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Education released an action plan that would revise how colleges and universities are evaluated, with graduation rates to now reflect students who attend part-time, as well as those who are returning to school.

The new formula is particularly important for community colleges, which have long complained that two significant segments of their student populations were being underreported. And a new web tool launching today from the College Board could offer more perspective on how community colleges are performing.

Higher Ed’s Cash Crunch: Who’s Getting Hurt?
Multimedia

Higher Ed’s Cash Crunch: Who’s Getting Hurt?

From EWA’s Nov 4-5 Higher Education Seminar at UCLA: The latest updates on what government budget cuts mean for colleges and students. What is the current impact on public colleges and universities and what is the outlook for further cuts in 2012?

Report

Fiscal Year 2013 Recap and Fiscal Year 2014 Early Analysis

“Making sense of the annual appropriations process and the federal education budget can be a frustrating task for education advocates, state and local policymakers, the media, and the public. With the fiscal year 2013 budget and appropriations process now complete and the 2014 process just beginning, now is an opportune time to assess how federal education programs have been, and are likely to be, affected by these developments.”

Organization

Association of College and University Housing Officers

The Association of College and University Housing Officers – International is the professional organization for employees who manage dormitories and other housing options for colleges. ACUHO-I can be a helpful source for information on the ways colleges might use housing to increase their revenues.

Organization

State Higher Education Executive Officers

The State Higher Education Executive Officers organization surveys its members on a regular basis regarding various financial trends in higher education. These SHEEO reports can be the foundation for a variety of articles about the affordability of postsecondary education.

Organization

Delta Cost Project

The Delta Cost Project is a research organization that examines how colleges and universities collect and spend the revenues upon which they depend. Their research can be critical to most articles that deal with the financial aspects of colleges, particularly the reasons why tuition and other costs have been increasing.

Organization

The College Board

The College Board is known primarily for their SAT and Advanced Placement tests, which play critical roles in the college admissions process, both for students and admissions officers across the country. The College Board, however, does also have an Advocacy & Policy Center that actively researches key issues of college access and success. Their annual reports regarding trends in college costs and financial aid are key tools of the higher education beat.

Report

Grapevine

Illinois State University and the State Higher Education Executive Officers jointly produce this compilation of state taxpayer support (i.e. subsidies or revenues) for educational systems.

Report

Executive Compensation

The Chronicle of Higher Education collects and publishes data on the compensation of private college presidents and public college presidents. Access to these databases does require a subscription to the site.

Report

Guidestar

Guidestar offers a free, online repository of all nonprofit institutions’ (including private, non-profit colleges’) tax forms, including the often informative 990, which includes executive compensation, spending on fundraising, grants to non-citizens and other interesting data. The site offers access for free, but registration is required.

Report

National Center for Education Statistics

U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) is considered the definitive source of education statistics. The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, or IPEDS allows you to, for example, discover and compare what colleges spend on instructors administration, research, financial aid, or find the trend data for one particular college. IPEDS also enables you to, for example, compare all colleges’ sticker prices, say, or find the trend data for one particular college.