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June 27, 2019

What we’ve learned so far from a national technology-enhanced advising experiment

Many higher education institutions are implementing advising interventions, if not complete redesigns, in an effort to advise their students in a more timely and targeted manner. While the approaches can take various forms, they have increasingly relied on technology to alleviate the burden of large caseloads by helping advisors easily and quickly identify which students need what type of support, and when. In an ambitious experiment, the 11 institutions that form the University Innovation Alliance (UIA) are testing such an…
March 26, 2019

March Madness: Socioeconomic Diversity Edition

At Ithaka S+R, one of our primary missions is to expand educational opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds. Some of our programs, including the American Talent Initiative which aims to increase the number of lower-income students enrolled at the top colleges and universities in the country, focus on increasing socioeconomic diversity at higher education institutions, while others focus on improving outcomes for lower income, first generation, and underrepresented minority students at the colleges and universities where they are already more…
November 15, 2018

What’s the ROI for Instructional Reform?

New Tool Provides Estimates

Last year, Ithaka S+R published Instructional Quality, Student Outcomes, and Institutional Finances, a white paper commissioned by the American Council on Education (ACE) that explored the relationship between institutional finances and instructional quality, asking whether improvements in instructional quality can increase a postsecondary institution’s net revenue. It’s an important question, as many higher education institutions are under strong pressure to improve student learning outcomes as they face increasing financial constraints. The conventional view is that increases in instructional quality…
December 20, 2017

Endowment Tax Provision: Counting Students Is No Easy Feat

After the House of Representatives and Senate passed two versions of a GOP bill to overhaul the tax code, a conference committee released a near-final version last Friday that was passed by the House on Tuesday. The Senate then passed a bill with slight tweaks on Wednesday, necessitating a House re-vote. The House is expected to pass the bill midday Wednesday and the President is expected to sign within the coming days. While some of the controversial measures…
October 24, 2017

New Graduation Data on Pell Recipients Reveals a Gap in Outcomes

In 2015-16, the federal government disbursed more than $28 billion under the Pell Grant program to 7.6 million students, representing almost 40 percent of undergraduates in the United States. Because eligibility for the grant depends largely on financial need, many researchers use it as a proxy for income, although there are limitations. Despite the size and scope of the program and its importance in socioeconomic and higher education research, outcomes of Pell recipients have not been readily available.
August 10, 2017

Lessons Learned in Collecting Student-Level Data from Multiple Higher Education Institutions

Institutions of higher education vary widely in how they define, collect, and store their students’ data, making the collection of student-level data across institutions a challenging task. Since September 2015, Ithaka S+R has served as the independent evaluator of the Monitoring Advising Analytics to Promote Success (MAAPS) study, an intensive proactive and technology-enhanced advisement intervention for first-time low-income and/or first-generation students across the 11 four-year public universities that make up the University Innovation Alliance. We recently completed the…
January 12, 2017

Diverging Application, Admission, and Enrollment Trends between Not-For-Profit and For-Profit Institutions

Whether due to the Common Application, improved marketing efforts on the part of colleges and universities, or greater pressure on high school students, there has been a well-documented increase in the number of college applicants and applications, particularly to the most selective institutions. This phenomenon has increased those colleges’ selectivity, at the same time it has made yield less predictable—leading a number of colleges to lean more heavily on practices such as early decision, demonstrated interest, and legacy…
August 30, 2016

Can Financial Aid for Non-Traditional Education Programs Help Low-Income Students?

Last October, the federal Department of Education announced the launch of Educational Quality through Innovative Partnerships (EQUIP), a pilot program inviting partnerships between non-traditional education providers and accredited institutions of higher education. A key component of the program is its target population: low- and moderate-income students. Under a provision of the Higher Education Act, accredited institutions are ineligible to receive federal financial aid for programs in which 50 percent or more of the content and instruction is provided by…
July 14, 2016

Does Financial Aid Help Those Who Need it Most?

As tuition and fees at public and private not-for-profit four-year institutions continue to rise, so does the role of financial assistance, particularly for low- and moderate-income students. Yet, recent reports show that the distribution of financial aid is far from equitable. Last month, an Atlantic article highlighted an array of college-affordability efforts–including private and employer grants, the federal work-study program, and federal tax credits–that often fail to provide financial assistance to those that need it most. For instance,…
May 18, 2016

Will Easing the Financial Burden of Dual Enrollment Improve College Outcomes for Low-Income Students?

As I’ve noted previously, the percentage of low-income (family income in the bottom 20 percent) high school graduates that have enrolled in two- and four-year institutions declined from 55.9 percent in 2008 to 45.5 percent in 2013. Studies examining dual enrollment programs—in which students take courses for college credit while still in high school—have found that participating in such programs increases the likelihood of college degree attainment, especially for low-income students. Yet low-income students tend to have…
April 4, 2016

Trends in College Net Price for Low-Income Students

Last week, New America’s Stephen Burd published a report showing that low-income students who receive Pell grants still face a substantial financial burden to attend college, especially at private not-for-profit institutions. Looking at the average net price—“the average amount of money that students and their families have to pay after all grant and scholarship aid is deducted from the listed price”—of low-income students attending 1,400 four-year institutions, Burd found that 94 percent of the private not-for-profit institutions he studied…
March 14, 2016

The Problems of Accreditation of For-Profit Institutions

And a Step to Improve It

In my most recent blog post, I compared financial aid data for the 2013-14 academic year with that of previous years. One interesting finding was that the share of Pell enrollments at for-profit institutions has declined by 22 percent since it peaked in 2009-10. As explained in the blog, this decline coincides with the federal government’s efforts to crack down on students’ low-value use of Pell grants, specifically at for-profit institutions. For-profit programs, according to the federal Department of…
February 17, 2016

An Analysis of Pell Grant Data

Earlier this year, the National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) updated its Data Center to include financial aid data for the 2013-14 academic year. Interested in how the percentage of undergraduate students who received Pell grants changed (or did not), I compared the 2013-14 data with that of previous years (2007-08 through 2012-13). The institutions included in the analysis are located in the United States and fall into one of nine sectors based on…
December 3, 2015

Idaho’s Bold Initiative

Will It Help?

Earlier this week, Inside Higher Ed reported on the recent announcement by the state of Idaho that, beginning with the class of 2016, the state’s high school graduates would be guaranteed admission into at least some, and possibly all, of Idaho’s eight public colleges and universities. For more than 20,000 public high school graduates, admission into five of the state’s postsecondary schools would be guaranteed while the remaining three – Boise State University, Idaho State University, and University of…
October 21, 2015

CUNY’s ASAP Program Helps Students Graduate

Will It Scale?

Last week, Inside Higher Ed reported that the City University of New York plans to scale-up their Accelerated Study in Associate Programs, or ASAP, at six CUNY community colleges and three senior colleges that offer associate degrees. The most aggressive effort to expand ASAP will be at Bronx Community College, where all new full-time students will be automatically enrolled in the program. One goal of the plan is to increase Bronx Community College’s three-year graduation rate from 11 percent…
September 2, 2015

Assessing the Potential of Gamification in Higher Education

Last week, The Chronicle of Higher Education published an article that profiled “Ball State Achievements,” a mobile application by the university that incentivizes participation among low-income students in campus activities, such as attending an organization’s event or going to the campus gym, by rewarding points to students (which can later be redeemed for campus currency), like you would to a player in a game. The underlying idea is that students who participate in activities outside the classroom are more…
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