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Issue Brief
April 28, 2022

Supporting Low-Income Students with SNAP

Every year a subset of postsecondary students goes hungry and lacks stable shelter. Recent research has helped raise national awareness of basic needs insecurity on college campuses across the US. States and institutions of higher education have, until recently, been approaching the problem of student food insecurity in separate, sometimes contradictory ways. While some institutions have developed wrap-around assistance programs for low-income students that have improved retention and completion rates, the students with the most needs often attend institutions with…
Issue Brief
November 9, 2021

No “One Size Fits All” Impact of Doubling Pell Grants

Understanding the Impact of Changing the Maximum Pell Grant on Low- and Middle-Income Students

As policy makers consider revisions to the Higher Education Act (HEA), understanding the impact of increasing the size of Pell grants is important if it is to have the intended impact of improving educational outcomes for lower income students across the various types of colleges and universities. Proposals to increase the Pell grant have been put forward by the Education Trust, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Urban Institute, the Biden administration, and many others. House Republicans have…
Issue Brief
August 25, 2021

Improving Clarity in Financial Aid Offers

Content and Design Recommendations for Transparent Student Communications

The American Talent Initiative’s latest issue brief, “Improving Clarity in Financial Aid Offers,” centers on the need for colleges and universities to prioritize clear, transparent financial aid communications, especially as the cost of college has significantly increased over the past three decades and left a shrinking number of students able to afford higher education (especially amid the pandemic). To address this enduring challenge, institutions can use powerful tools like the financial aid offer to help students understand the true…
Issue Brief
July 21, 2021

Right in Your Backyard

Expanding Local Community College Transfer Pathways to High-Graduation-Rate Institutions

Each year, our country’s most selective four-year institutions invest significant resources to recruit talented high school students from across the country. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, admissions representatives traveled far and wide to convince these prospective students that the academic rigor, amenities, and opportunities at their institution are unparalleled. These students, mostly affluent and white, contemplate admission offers and consider moves to new locales to pursue their postsecondary plans. Yet, many of these selective institutions are overlooking a talented and diverse…
Issue Brief
May 26, 2021

Different Approaches to Piloting Advising Technology

Comparing Webster University and West Virginia State University

Advising undergraduate students on how to succeed in their academics, careers, and life is one of the most common practices in higher education. Advising is also something that many institutions struggle to resource or coordinate sufficiently, due to hurdles such as overwhelming caseloads and limited interdepartmental communication, potentially leaving students without needed support on their paths to successful program completion. The barriers to a successful college experience are not borne equally across higher education. In fact, the institutions that serve…
Issue Brief
May 25, 2021

Using Data to Fuel Inclusive Excellence at Virginia Tech

In Fall 2020, the American Talent Initiative (ATI), an alliance of high-graduation-rate colleges and universities committed to expanding access and opportunity for low- and middle-income students, established its newest community of practice (CoP) focused on academic equity. Together, the 37 CoP members explore topics related to creating equitable academic communities. One such area of focus is how institutions can more effectively utilize data to enhance equity-related projects. In January 2021, members participated in a webinar discussion on this topic, during…
Issue Brief
March 31, 2021

The Disproportionate Impact of the Pandemic on Women and Caregivers in Academia

Evidence is mounting that women in academia have disproportionately been affected by the pandemic. Recent research points to new gender gaps in productivity and publishing, with fewer women publishing articles and manuscripts. And in addition to these professional challenges, women in academia are also facing unique personal challenges during the pandemic, including balancing childcare and home responsibilities while working towards achieving tenure in an academic pipeline where it is already challenging for women to succeed.
Issue Brief
March 26, 2021

The Many Facets of Faculty Involvement in the Implementation Process

A Case Study of Northeast Wisconsin Technical College

Advising undergraduate students on how to succeed in their academics, careers, and life is one of the most common practices in higher education. Advising is also something that many institutions struggle to resource or coordinate sufficiently, potentially leaving students without needed support on their paths to successful program completion. The barriers to a successful college experience are not borne equally across higher education. In fact, the institutions that serve the highest proportions of students from historically minoritized backgrounds (including low-income,…
Issue Brief
March 15, 2021

Federal Policies for Increasing Socioeconomic Diversity at Selective Colleges and Universities

Earning a bachelor’s degree is increasingly important to an individual’s longer-term economic prospects. Communities, at all levels, also benefit when their members earn postsecondary credentials, through improved economic, social, and health outcomes. Yet, despite an increase in college participation over the last two decades, severe inequities in bachelor’s degree attainment remain; inequities that often leave lower-income and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) students with debt and no or low-value credentials. With Democrats coalescing around a number of federal…
Issue Brief
March 11, 2021

Homeless and Foster Youth, Racial Inequity, and Policy Shifts for Systemic Change

Each year, roughly 4.2 million young people experience homelessness, and more than 600,000 children interact with the foster care system nationwide.[1] Although youth homelessness and foster care are distinct experiences, many youth will crossover between these two groups. Both groups also face similar challenges, including highly unstable living environments, food insecurity, and often gaps in educational achievement and attainment. While the legal definition of youth homelessness varies across states and targeted policies, the Department of Education defines homeless…
Issue Brief
February 25, 2021

Academic Research Budgets

A Look Ahead with Special Emphasis on Research Enablement and Support

The United States university sector’s research enterprise is an important national asset. It is highly competitive and highly innovative in ordinary times, and during the past year plagued by coronavirus it pivoted quickly to conduct urgently needed research on a new threat. Beyond its national and international significance, the research enterprise is also an enormous asset—intellectually and financially—for each of the individual universities with a major stake in it. At the high level, the pandemic may seem not to have…
Issue Brief
February 25, 2021

University Budget Models and Indirect Costs

A Primer

Budgets do not only pay the costs of activities. They also reveal the ambitions and limitations of an organization. The opportunities presented in a budget are also bounded by the structural elements used by that institution: how costs and revenues are organized, how overhead is calculated and apportioned, and how assets and investments are calculated and utilized, among others. In the higher education sector in the US, there are many common budgeting elements but also several important areas of differentiation.
Issue Brief
January 19, 2021

It’s Complicated

The Relationship between Postsecondary Attainment and State Finances

Increased college-going and attainment comes with a host of benefits for individuals and society. A college credential is associated with increased civic engagement, volunteering, happiness, life satisfaction, and better health and wellness, as well as lower incarceration rates and reliance on social services. In addition to the host of nonpecuniary benefits of higher education, there is a direct link between both college access and attainment and students’ future economic outcomes. For example, students with test scores just above the eligibility…
Issue Brief
December 14, 2020

Accelerating Advising Technology Implementation in Response to COVID-19

A Case Study of Jacksonville University

Advising undergraduate students on how to succeed in their academics, careers, and life is one of the most common practices in higher education. Advising is also something that many institutions struggle to resource or coordinate sufficiently, potentially leaving students without needed support on their paths to successful program completion. It is also important to note that barriers to a successful college experience are not borne equally across higher education. The institutions that serve the highest proportions of students from low-income…
Issue Brief
December 10, 2020

Reimagining State Higher Education Funding

Recommendations from the Ithaka S+R Convening

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are still unfolding, but already the pandemic seems likely to have an unprecedented impact on higher education finances. In response to declining tax revenues, states are beginning to curtail higher education funding, a key source of revenue for many public colleges and universities. Changing enrollment patterns and rising unemployment has softened demand for some colleges, which can negatively affect tuition revenues. Limitations on in-person activities and increased health-related costs are shrinking auxiliary revenues, a…
Issue Brief
December 10, 2020

An Overview of State Higher Education Funding Approaches

Lessons and Recommendations

With a pandemic-driven recession and unemployment stratified by postsecondary attainment levels, investments in education, including higher education, are needed now more than ever. Yet, the outlook for state finances is grim, especially if federal investment stalls, and shrinking budgets and financial instability are likely to lead to reductions in state spending. As we discuss in a companion brief, during times of constrained resources, states’ playbooks should include three key elements: ensuring that higher education funding is adequate, ensuring that institutions…
Issue Brief
October 28, 2020

Scholarly Societies in the Age of COVID

As membership organizations with revenues typically derived from a combination of publications, meetings, and dues, scholarly societies have faced distinctive challenges, as well as opportunities, in navigating the pandemic. To explore these, we spoke with chief executives and chief publishing officers at 12 large and small societies, some focused on the humanities and social sciences, others on the STEM fields. We were interested in how the various sources of activity and value for scholarly societies were being impacted…
Issue Brief
October 28, 2020

Making the Case for Student Veterans

Building Support for Student Veteran Enrollment

A college degree is increasingly associated with greater economic opportunity for individuals and positive economic, social, and civic benefits for society. Yet, gaps in college access by income and race/ethnicity persist, especially at the most selective colleges and universities where students have the best chance to succeed due to greater resources and high graduation rates. These gaps perpetuate economic and social inequality, as access to high-quality education is essential for social mobility. Veterans and service members of the United States…
Issue Brief
October 27, 2020

Global Science and the China Split

The practice of science has always been a fundamentally international activity. Even during periods of substantial geopolitical splits—such as the Cold War—science has broadly continued its international communication and even collaboration. In the post-Cold War period, science has globalized to a substantial degree. However, the looming geopolitical split between China and many of the liberal and democratic nations including Australia, India, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, as well as European Union members, raises questions about…
Issue Brief
October 1, 2020

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

Inequity in higher education access is a persistent problem. One way in which this manifests is through inequitable opportunities to attend the most well-resourced institutions. When students attend limited-resource institutions, they are less likely to persist and earn a credential and typically have weaker labor market prospects. Low-income and racial and ethnic minority students are more likely to attend under-resourced institutions than their wealthier and white peers. These enrollment patterns vis-à-vis institutional resources stand to perpetuate social and economic inequities.