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Publications

Research Report
February 2, 2022

Archiving Degree Audit Data to Measure and Reduce Lost Transfer Credit

Since June 2019, the Articulation of Credit Transfer project (ACT) has focused on streamlining the information, advising, and administrative processes concerning how credits from one City University of New York (CUNY) institution transfer to another CUNY institution. This work addresses a critical challenge at CUNY, and indeed, across American higher education. 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 their ability to…
Research Report
August 30, 2021

Public College and University Consolidations and the Implications for 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 and the resulting recession…
Research Report
June 29, 2021

American Talent Initiative 2021

Third Annual Progress Report

The American Talent Initiative (ATI) brings together a coalition of four-year colleges and universities in pursuit of a common goal: enrolling, supporting, and graduating 50,000 additional lower-income students by 2025 at the colleges and universities that consistently graduate at least 70 percent of their students in six years. ATI’s third annual progress report provides a snapshot of progress—and setbacks. It comes at a time when a global pandemic has deepened inequality, and a national uprising against systemic racism has sharpened…
Research Report
June 24, 2021

MAAPS Advising Experiment

Evaluation Findings after Four Years

Acknowledgements This project is generously funded by a US Department of Education First in the World validation grant,[1] with additional support from Arnold Ventures. We thank the project principal investigator, Dr. Timothy Renick of Georgia State University, for inviting Ithaka S+R to serve as its independent evaluator and for being an invaluable thought and project partner. We would like to acknowledge the key role of the University Innovation Alliance (UIA), which inspired the project by…
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
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
October 5, 2020

Solving Stranded Credits

Assessing the Scope and Effects of Transcript Withholding on Students, States, and Institutions

Attention to the burden of U.S. educational debt, now at $1.7 trillion, has grown in recent years. For too many former postsecondary students—especially Black students—debt they took on to improve their lives and career prospects has instead become a financial hindrance, delaying or undermining their efforts to buy homes, build savings, or provide for their families. The debt burden is especially severe for those who never completed their postsecondary program and therefore did not receive the credentials that might have…
Case Study
March 13, 2020

Duke Kunshan University

A Case Study of Implementing Online Learning in Two Weeks

The rapid spread of COVID-19 has led a large number of residential, primarily face-to-face American colleges and universities to shift to remote courses for indefinite periods of time. This is a major disruption to normal activities, with pedagogical, social, and economic consequences. It is also a significant organizational and change-management challenge, with a short timeline and no safety net. Duke Kunshan University in Kunshan, China was one of the first US-affiliated institutions that had to deal with this, given the…
Research Report
February 19, 2020

Expanding Opportunity for Lower-Income Students

Three Years of the American Talent Initiative

The American Talent Initiative (ATI) was formed in December 2016 to address a persistent issue—specifically, that the American colleges and universities with the greatest resources, and where students have the highest likelihood of graduating, have historically served far too few young people from low- and middle-income backgrounds. The American Talent Initiative has a goal to enroll an additional 50,000 low- and middle-income students at these institutions by the year 2025. ATI is on track to meet its goal. Between 2015-16,…
Case Study
November 21, 2019

Bard High School Early College

A Case Study

A rigorous liberal arts undergraduate experience has long been the benchmark for higher education in America. Broad-based, with areas of depth, and many opportunities for rich discussion, application, and writing, the liberal arts experience cultivates human potential, prepares students for the start of their career, and readies them for lifelong learning and for adapting to new circumstances. As automation extends throughout our economy, the human skills developed through the liberal arts will only become more important.
Research Report
June 27, 2019

Technical Supplement – Interim Findings Report: MAAPS Advising Experiment

Overview Monitoring Advising Analytics to Promote Success (MAAPS) is a multi-institutional project of the University Innovation Alliance (UIA), supported by a U.S. Department of Education First in the World Grant to Georgia State University, the lead UIA member on this project. MAAPS is a large-scale randomized-controlled trial designed to validate the effectiveness of technology-enhanced proactive advisement in increasing retention, progression, and achievement for low-income and first-generation college students. Addressing documented obstacles to college completion that disproportionately impact at-risk populations,…
Research Report
June 27, 2019

Interim Findings Report: MAAPS Advising Experiment

Monitoring Advising Analytics to Promote Success (MAAPS) is a multi-institutional project of the University Innovation Alliance (UIA), supported by a U.S. Department of Education First in the World Grant to Georgia State University, a UIA member. The large-scale, randomized-controlled trial was designed to test and validate the effectiveness of technology-enhanced, proactive advisement in increasing retention, progression, and achievement for incoming low-income and first-generation college students. The MAAPS intervention was officially launched during the Fall 2016 term at the 11 institutions…
Research Report
May 15, 2019

Better Than We Thought

Comparing Publicly Available Data on College Students’ Income Distribution

In January 2017, a valuable new information source was introduced to the higher education community. 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.[1] 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…
Research Report
January 10, 2019

Enrolling More Veterans at High-Graduation-Rate Colleges and Universities

Higher education plays a vital role in raising income, moderating income inequality, and increasing economic growth and global competitiveness. But U.S. higher education attainment continues to lag for lower-income and underrepresented-minority students, particularly at the colleges and universities that have the most resources and the highest graduation rates. As a stark example, research by economist Raj Chetty and his team found that there are more students from the top one percent of the income distribution at the Ivy-Plus colleges than…
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Research Report
December 17, 2018

A 2018 Report on the Progress of the American Talent Initiative in its First Two Years

This report offers the first look at the progress achieved during the American Talent Initiative’s first two years. Between the 2015-16 academic year (the year before ATI’s founding) and the 2017-18 academic year, ATI members increased their enrollment of low- and moderate-income students by 7,291, an increase that represents about 15 percent of the 50,000-by-2025 goal, achieved by about a third of eligible schools. During this period, more than two-thirds of ATI members increased Pell enrollment, and for about half…
Research Report
December 11, 2018

Mapping the Wild West of Pre-Hire Assessment

A Landscape View of the Uncharted Technology-Facilitated Ecosystem

The rise in technology-facilitated assessments has created a paradigm shift in employer talent acquisition. Traditionally, the process of assessing candidates’ skills has focused on resumes composed of credentials signifying successful participation in or completion of an experience (like a degree, a training program, or a prior job) and candidates’ own claims of competencies. Such a process favored intermediaries like higher education institutions, industry associations, governmental agencies, and former employers, who awarded credentials for successful program completion or could vouch for…
Research Report
April 4, 2018

Monitoring Advising Analytics to Promote Success (MAAPS)

Evaluation Findings from the First Year of Implementation

In 2015, estimated bachelor’s degree attainment rates by age 24 were nearly five times greater for those from the highest family income quartile than for those from the lowest quartile (58 percent vs. 12 percent). Lower graduation rates of low-income students are not fully explained by lack of academic preparation, and a growing number of research studies attribute this achievement gap, at least in part, to low-income students’ lack of “institutional know-how”—their ability to navigate the complex bureaucracies that characterize…
Research Report
February 28, 2018

Technology in Higher Education

Reflections from the Bowen Colloquium on Higher Education Leadership

“Properly conceived, information technology will enhance, but not replace, traditional modes of teaching and learning. It will also permit the delivery of educational content to a wider variety of others interested in subjects that lend themselves to distance learning – at home and at odd hours.” —William G. Bowen, “At a Slight Angle to the Universe: The University in a Digitized, Commercialized Age,” Romanes Lecture, Oxford University, October 17, 2000.