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May 2, 2022

Addressing Food Insecurity Will Pay Off for States

In order to achieve their ambitious attainment goals, most states will need to rapidly increase credential production. Increasing attainment improves a state’s fiscal outlook, increases individual wages, improves individual health and life outcomes, and increases civic engagement. However, our research suggests that most states’ goals will remain out of reach unless their plans…
March 10, 2022

A Preliminary Analysis of Debt Forgiveness Programs

The COVID-19 pandemic spotlighted the ever-increasing amount and crushing effects of student debt, including debts owed directly to postsecondary institutions. In an earlier report, Solving Stranded Credits, we estimated that roughly 6.6 million students owe over $15 billion in unpaid balances to colleges and universities in the United States. The weight of institutional debt can leave students feeling defeated, forcing many to avoid pursuing postsecondary education altogether. On a national scale, these debts…
August 30, 2021

Collecting Data on New Debt Relief Programs

What’s the Impact on Stranded Credits and Student Outcomes?

Stranded credits, or academic credits previously earned but inaccessible due to an outstanding debt to an institution, impact an estimated 6.6 million students across the country. Students affected by stranded credits represent nearly one-sixth of the estimated 36 million students who left college with some credit, but no degree, and are more likely to be students of color and from lower-income backgrounds. Recently, the issue of stranded credits…
May 19, 2021

Examining the Relationship between NC-SARA and Online Enrollments

Implications for Policy and Research

In order to be eligible to access federal student aid programs, colleges and universities are required to receive authorization from the state or states within which they operate. The rise in online postsecondary programs over the last decade created increasingly complicated administrative challenges to state authorization: institutions that sought to enroll “out-of-state” students in their online programs needed to seek authorization from every state in which those students resided. To streamline this process, in 2014 higher education leaders formed the…
May 4, 2021

A State-by-State Snapshot of Stranded Credits Data and Policy

As the higher education sector begins to address the adverse effects of the pandemic on enrollment, institutions and policymakers alike have begun to turn their attention to a pernicious form of debt that could be preventing over six million students, especially low-income students and students of color, from re-enrolling and earning their degrees. This form of debt prevents students from accessing their transcripts at institutions they attended in the past, leading those previously earned credits to become “stranded” at…
January 19, 2021

A New Report Examining the Relationship between Postsecondary Attainment and State Finances

Over the past two years, Ithaka S+R, in partnership with the Joyce Foundation, has examined the role of state policy in ensuring postsecondary access and opportunity for all students. In a newly released research paper, we build on our previous work and make the economic case for states to increase their attainment rates. To reap the benefits of their investments in increased attainment, we recommend that state leaders increase investment into historically underserved students, adopt progressive tax…
December 10, 2020

Reimagining the Future of Higher Education Funding

Ithaka S+R Releases Two New Issue Briefs on State Higher Education Funding

Since the early 2000s, per student state funding has declined while costs of public higher education have shifted towards students and families. This comes during a period when wealth and income gaps have been climbing. The Great Recession of 2008 accelerated this shifting cost burden at a time when many individuals unable to secure employment returned to postsecondary education for new training or upskilling. In the wake of the Great Recession, state funding for higher education…
October 1, 2020

An Interview with Dr. Stella Flores

Policies to Ensure Equitable Access to Well-Resourced Colleges and Universities

Stella Flores is an Associate Professor of Higher Education at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University. Dr. Flores is a leading expert on higher education policy and uses quantitative methods to examine the effects of state and federal policies on postsecondary access and completion for low-income and underrepresented populations. She is also the Director of Access and Equity at The Steinhardt Institute for Higher Education Policy. Ithaka S+R graciously thanks Dr. Flores for…
August 11, 2020

Does Setting an Attainment Goal Move the Needle on Postsecondary Attainment?

As COVID-19 continues to threaten state budgets, statewide commitments to improving higher education outcomes remain more important than ever. While there are a multitude of individual, social, and civic benefits to investing in a well-educated population, supporting postsecondary access and completion should also be viewed as critical for states’ post-recession recovery. A college degree is associated with higher lifetime earnings potential, better health outcomes, and even a longer life expectancy. Closing equity gaps is also necessary to address broader social…
April 23, 2020

Going Test-Optional with Equity in Mind 

Colleges and universities across the nation are revisiting nearly every aspect of their operations in order to best respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. In light of SAT and ACT administration changes and cancellations, at least 70 colleges and university systems have implemented test-optional policies, which either eliminate the requirement for prospective students to submit standardized test scores or…
April 17, 2020

State Higher Education Policy is Essential to Economic Recovery

The COVID-19 crisis has massively disrupted our health, our society, and our economy. State policymakers are appropriately focused on addressing the most urgent needs of their residents. Soon, though, policy and budget decisions will arise that will affect the economic prosperity of states for years to come. Ensuring the vitality of public higher education must be core to those decisions. Public higher education is very much at risk. In the shorter-term, many public colleges and universities will face severe declines…
December 18, 2019

How Do Test-Optional or Test-Flexible Policies Affect Access and Opportunity?

A growing number of institutions have adopted or are considering test-optional or -flexible policies in recent years. Most recently, leaders of the University of California and several of its campuses have publicly discussed removing standardized test scores as an application requirement due to the perception that standardized tests are inherently biased against underserved students. Such a large system of selective institutions moving away from standardized tests would represent a dramatic shift in the higher education ecosystem. Although the number…
December 12, 2019

An Interview with Dr. Alexandra W. Logue

Expanding Pathways to College Enrollment and Degree Attainment

Dr. Alexandra W. Logue is a Research Professor in CASE (the Center for Advanced Study in Education) of the Graduate Center of The City University of New York (CUNY), with particular responsibility for research and scholarship concerning college student success. Dr. Logue is a leading expert on remediation and transfer, and her most recent book, Pathways to Reform: Credits and Conflict at The City University of New York (Princeton University Press), is a case study regarding the difficulty of making…
October 2, 2019

An Interview with Dr. Dominique Baker

The Strategic Alignment of State Appropriations, Tuition, and Financial Aid Policies

Dominique Baker is an Assistant Professor of Education Policy and an Associate at the John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies at Southern Methodist University. Dr. Baker is an expert in financial aid policies and student debt, and examines the equity implications of higher education policies. Ithaka S+R graciously thanks Dr. Baker for sharing her thoughts on the strategic alignment of state higher education finance policies. This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length. With limited funding, where…
June 12, 2019

An Interview with Dr. David Tandberg

“North Star” Attainment Goals

David Tandberg is the Vice President for Policy Research and Strategic Initiatives at the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO). Dr. Tandberg is a leading expert on state higher education policy. He currently leads SHEEO in its work to connect empirical research with state policy to improve higher education opportunities for students. Ithaka S+R graciously thanks Dr. Tandberg for sharing his thoughts regarding state “north star” attainment goals. This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length. How…