Skip to Main Content

Blog

February 2, 2022

Bringing Credit Transfer into Focus

New Report on the Articulation of Transfer Credit at CUNY Project

When a student transfers from one college to another, the receiving college has to decide how to treat the credits that the student earned at prior institutions. While the specific process varies from place to place, in general, the institution has to make two interrelated decisions: (1) the course equivalency—how each course the student completed at another institution translates into courses in the catalog at the new institution, and (2) how the translated courses…
December 8, 2021

A Sustainable Solution to Settle Students’ Debt and Release Stranded Credits

Ithaka S+R and Eight Ohio Public Institutions Announce Promising New Pilot

Since publishing our first report on the subject in October 2020, Ithaka S+R has been at the forefront of defining the problem of stranded credits. We are now moving ahead with testing a potentially groundbreaking solution. “Stranded credits” are credits that students have earned but can’t access because their former institution is holding their transcript as collateral for an unpaid balance to the institution. Ninety-five percent of…
November 10, 2021

Unpacking the Effects of Increasing Pell Grants

The Pell Grant is America’s most prominent tool to promote college access and affordability for low- and middle-income students. With a substantial increase in the maximum Pell award under consideration by Congress, a natural question is how that increase is likely to impact the access and affordability goals of the program. The answer, it turns out, depends a lot on the college or university at which a Pell recipient uses the grant. In a new…
Tags:
August 30, 2021

Higher Ed Consolidation and Equity

Across American higher education, institutional consolidations are on the rise. In particular, multiple state systems have proposed or completed mergers of regional universities and/or community colleges with the stated goal of increasing efficiency. The conditions prompting these consolidations have been mounting for years—among them a long-term downward trend in state support for higher education and demographic shifts away from traditional-aged college students, especially in rural areas where numerous public institutions are located. With the COVID-19 pandemic contributing to…
August 17, 2021

“It pushes you down even further”

Documenting the Burden of Stranded Credits Through the Voices of Those Affected

In October 2020, Ithaka S+R estimated that 6.6 million people in the US owe a debt to a college or university they previously attended, and because of that, cannot access their transcripts or credentials. This insidious and understudied form of student debt not only saddles individuals with collections, credit rating issues, and other typical consequences of debt, but also prevents them from using credits and credentials they’ve earned to continue their education or…
December 15, 2020

Ithaka S+R to Expand Transfer Improvement Efforts with CUNY

With Support from the Petrie Foundation, ACT Project Expands from Three to Seven CUNY Campuses 

When students transfer from one college to another they frequently are unable to count their previously earned credits toward degree requirements at their new institutions, jeopardizing these students’ ability to earn their degrees. Nationally, 43 percent of credits are wasted during transfer, and students who lose that many credits are far less likely to graduate than students who are able to transfer most of their credits. While other…
November 16, 2020

Examining Institution-Level Income Distribution and Financial Aid Trends

New Report

In a 2019 report, we shared initial findings from a novel effort to compare key statistics on the income distribution of undergraduate populations and financial aid awards from three public sources: the Integrated Postsecondary Education System (IPEDS), Opportunity Insights, and the Common Data Set (CDS). Comparing these data sources across groups of higher education institutions organized by control (public or private) and admissions selectivity, we found that they presented similar income distributions, and…
October 5, 2020

“Stranded Credits”

New Report Explores Scope and Effects of Transcript Withholding 

In the past 20 years, over thirty-six million Americans have left higher education without earning a postsecondary degree or credential. Those with some college experience but no degree are often left in debt without the requisite labor market opportunities to pay it off, and can struggle financially for several years after dropping out. These impacts are particularly deleterious for students of color, who are often saddled with an…
July 14, 2020

Streamlining Transfer for CUNY Students in the Bronx

Approximately one-third of college students begin their postsecondary education in community colleges, yet over 80 percent of these students aspire to earn at least a bachelor’s degree. In order to achieve their goals, these students will need to transfer from their community colleges (which mostly offer associate’s degrees) to colleges that offer bachelor’s degrees. Yet, only 13 percent of students successfully transfer and earn a bachelor’s degree within six years of entering community college. Black and…
June 5, 2020

A New Resource to Help CUNY Students Transfer Smarter

When students transfer from one college to another they frequently are unable to count their previously earned credits toward degree requirements at their new institution, jeopardizing these students’ ability to earn degrees at their new institutions. Nationally, 43 percent of credits are wasted during transfer, and students who lose that many credits are far less likely to graduate than students who are able to transfer most of their credits. The COVID-19 pandemic will exacerbate this problem. Due to…
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…
February 13, 2020

New Report and Forecasting Tool Shows States’ Progress towards Postsecondary Attainment Goals

A postsecondary credential has become a crucial qualification for individuals to pursue a meaningful career with a livable wage. As technology continues to reshape the nature of work, the core competencies gained through postsecondary education and strategic up-skilling by adult workers will be ever more important. States have a critical role to play in supporting their residents’ education and training, and a vested interest in seeing educational attainment increase. Recognizing this, and driven by initiatives of the Lumina Foundation and…
October 17, 2019

How to Develop a Successful Collaborative Network in and around Higher Education

New Playbook

At the same time that it is becoming more essential to individual mobility, economic vitality, and social cohesion, postsecondary education is becoming a more complex endeavor. In response, a growing set of leaders in higher education, workforce development, business, and government are turning to focused and deep collaborative efforts to drive change within their own organizations and across the ecosystems in which they operate. In a new Ithaka S+R publication, Unlocking the Power of Collaboration, Jenna Joo, Jeff Selingo,…
July 18, 2019

Improving Articulation of Transfer Credit at CUNY

Although over 87 percent of new community college students at the City University of New York (CUNY) intend to transfer and complete at least a bachelor’s degree, only 11 percent do so within six years. Whether and how a student’s credits articulate during transfer can have significant consequences for these students’ educational trajectory.  Students who transfer most or all of their credits are 2.5 times more likely to graduate compared to those who…
May 15, 2019

What Can We Learn from Publicly Available Data on College Students’ Income Distribution?

In January 2017 researchers at the Equality of Opportunity Project—now called Opportunity Insights—released detailed data on the financial circumstances of undergraduate students at each of the vast majority of American colleges and universities. Covering students born between 1980 and 1991, and relying on tax records held by the Internal Revenue Service, the publicly available Opportunity Insights data provided a nuanced look at the family income distribution as well as subsequent earnings of a generation of college-goers. The Opportunity Insights dataset…
March 21, 2019

Understanding the Value of the Liberal Arts

Last year, Catharine Bond Hill and Elizabeth Davidson Pisacreta undertook a study on the economic benefits and costs of a liberal arts education on behalf of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. As they note in the report, critics claim that the value of a liberal arts education–in terms of both the increasing costs to delivering higher education and in students’ diminished earnings–is limited, especially compared to alternative…
December 17, 2018

American Talent Initiative Publishes First Public Report on Progress

In December 2016, 30 leading colleges and universities joined forces to address a persistent problem: Too few talented, low- and moderate-income students from across the country were enrolled at the U.S. colleges and universities with the highest graduation rates. By joining the American Talent Initiative (ATI), an initiative co-managed by the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program and Ithaka S+R, these colleges and universities committed to work together to change this reality. Specifically, these colleges and universities set a…
October 22, 2018

Martin Kurzweil in Change Magazine

Alternative Postsecondary Pathways: What We Know, What We Don’t Know, and Why It Matters

Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning recently published its 50th anniversary issue, featuring invited essays offering insights on a wide range of higher education’s most pressing issues. Drawing on his prior research on the subject for the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Commission on the Future of Undergraduate Education, Ithaka S+R’s Martin Kurzweil contributed a piece discussing “Alternative Postsecondary Pathways: What We Know, What We Don’t Know, and Why It Matters.” As Change Editor David Paris…
October 3, 2018

Assessing the Impact of State Policies on Higher Education Attainment

Ithaka S+R Launches New Research Project in Partnership with the Joyce Foundation

While aspirations to attend college are now more common among high school students, the opportunity to pursue higher education and complete a degree in order to enjoy the lifelong benefits of a college education varies widely by students’ race and socioeconomic background. Through financial support of public institutions, tax benefits for private institutions, student financial aid, and regulation of the higher education marketplace, state governments have the potential to mitigate these inequities for their residents. Yet with wide…
April 18, 2018

American Talent Initiative Reaches 100 Schools Committed to Expanding Opportunity for More High-Achieving, Low-and Moderate-Income Students

We’re happy to share the news that the American Talent Initiative now includes 100 institutions committed to expanding opportunity for more high-achieving, low- and moderate-income students. The full press release about reaching this milestone is below.   In just over a year, ATI has grown from 30 to 100 institutions working to attract, enroll, and graduate high-achieving, low- and moderate-income college students The American Talent Initiative (ATI), a Bloomberg Philanthropies initiative led by the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence…