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Publications

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 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…
Research Report
November 16, 2020

Comparing Public Institution-Level Data on Students’ Family Income and Financial Aid

In a recent research report titled “Better Than We Thought,” our team at Ithaka S+R compared Integrated Postsecondary Education System (IPEDS) data on the parental income distribution of entering college students with two other public sources of socioeconomic information on that population. In the report, we first checked the consistency of the income distributions reported by IPEDS with a more comprehensive dataset of tax records collected by researchers Opportunity Insights. Finding that, at the level of aggregate groups of institutions…
Research Report
February 13, 2020

Raising the Bar

What States Need to Do to Hit Their Ambitious Higher Education Attainment Goals

Over the past decade, there has been considerable attention placed on the role that state higher education systems play in preparing residents for a rapidly changing labor market. Given the increasing importance of a postsecondary degree in this market—both due to disproportionate growth in high skilled jobs and an influx of credentialization—educational attainment has become a focal point in discussions amongst researchers, policy advocates, and institutional actors. The attainment rate, calculated as the share of adults possessing a postsecondary credential,…