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Topic: Higher education costs

Blog Post
May 15, 2024

Restoring Trust in Higher Education Requires Colleges and Universities Being Trustworthy

As numerous surveys make clear, America’s trust in higher education institutions continues to decline, a sentiment that is coming from all political directions. The chaos on college campuses across the country in response to pro-Palestinian encampments, leading to conflict with police, student and faculty arrests, and canceled commencements, will further erode the public’s support. These events have highlighted the tensions on campuses between commitments to free speech and the right to peaceful protest and policies protecting against harassment and…
Upcoming Event
June 12, 2024

Adult Re-Engagement with FAFSA and Higher Education

As the population of adults with some college but no credential (SCNC) continues to increase, institutions are turning their attention toward reengaging and reenrolling this key segment of the market. Expanding access for adult learners is vital to meeting enrollment goals and also key to meeting workforce needs and equipping adult learners with SCNC with the skills and credentials necessary for the most in-demand and rewarding jobs. While some challenges to returning are well-known—family obligations, work requirements, stranded credits—sometimes, a…
Past Event
May 15, 2024

Bipartisan Policy Center Higher Education Virtual Roundtable on Emergency Aid Programs and SEOG

The Bipartisan Policy Center has recommended allowing colleges and universities to repurpose a portion of SEOG funds to provide micro-grants to students who have experienced a financial shock. BPC has begun a new project focused on advancing its recommendation and building bipartisan support for providing institutions with flexibility to use SEOG funds for emergency aid. In this initial roundtable, BPC is bringing together experts and stakeholders, including Ithaka S+R’s Danny Rossman, to share perspectives on emergency aid programs, the effectiveness…
Past Event
April 5, 2024

Resetting Tuition at Minority Serving Institutions

Implications for Enrollment and Institutional Finances

At NBER’s Financing Higher Education Spring 2024 Conference, Ithaka S+R’s Catharine Bond Hill and James Ward will join a panel with Daniel Corral (University of Toronto) and Bridget T. Long (Harvard University and NBER), which will focus on resetting tuition at minority serving institutions and the implications for enrollment and institutional finances. Learn more about the panel, scheduled for Friday, April 5 at 2:15pm.
Upcoming Event
September 8, 2024

Why Is College So Expensive and What Can We Do About It?

It’s no secret that higher education costs have skyrocketed in recent years presenting serious challenges for students, families, and policymakers alike. This presentation at the Council for Opportunity in Education’s TRIO Turns 60 Annual Conference will delve into the intricate factors propelling the high cost of higher education, offering insights into the underlying dynamics shaping the landscape. Attendees will gain a deeper understanding of key drivers such as administrative bloat, declining state funding, and the proliferation of non-academic services.
Past Event
March 14, 2024

Estimating the Effect of Tuition Freezes and Caps on Graduate Program Expansion and Tuition

At the Association for Education Finance and Policy (AEFP) Annual Conference in Baltimore, Ithaka S+R’s James Ward will present a paper, co-authored by Cameron Childress, Ifeatu Oliobi, and Robert Kelchen, estimating the relationship between state mandated tuition freezes and caps in undergraduate programs and institutions’ use of graduate programs to to protect against revenue shocks. The authors estimate the effect on graduate program enrollment, the number of graduate programs, and tuition levels. Learn more about the session, taking place…
Blog Post
February 13, 2024

No Longer Stranded?

How New Department of Education Rule Creates Opportunities for Students and Institutions

In 2020, Ithaka S+R estimated that approximately 6.6 million students did not have access to their educational transcripts due to past due balances, resulting in stranded credits. This challenge may impact any student, but our research indicated it was more likely to affect students who identified as women, racial and ethnic minorities, and those from low-income backgrounds. During our initial investigation of stranded credits, we found that nearly all higher education institutions used transcript holds as a tool to…
Blog Post
February 12, 2024

From Awareness to Action

Addressing Basic Needs Insecurity on Campus

The latest federal data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS) highlights some of the critical challenges students face outside of the classroom when it comes to basic needs: roughly one in five undergraduate students (23 percent) and one in 10 graduate students (12 percent) are experiencing food insecurity, while 8 percent of undergraduate students and 5 percent of graduate students are experiencing homelessness. For millions of students, the struggle to…
Blog Post
December 20, 2023

Keep It Simple: Previewing Changes to FAFSA

In December 2020, policymakers passed the Free Application of Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Simplification Act to address barriers to higher education related to federal student financial aid or Title IV aid—named in reference to Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, the landmark legislation that in part sought to provide financial assistance for students in postsecondary and higher education. Key benefits of FAFSA simplification are a streamlined application process, removal of barriers for…
Blog Post
November 30, 2023

Improving Data Collection and Management Practices to Understand Stranded Credits

Institutional debt is an understudied and overlooked type of student debt that hinders stopped-out students’ ability to complete or further their education. This specific debt often results in “stranded credits”—earned credits that students cannot access because their former institution is withholding their transcript or blocking registration until they settle their unpaid balance. Institution record systems are not designed to facilitate easy access to understanding who is affected by stranded credits. But, with small changes and greater collaboration, institutions…
Blog Post
November 14, 2023

College Admissions After Affirmative Action

Catherine Bond Hill on “The Close”

Last week, Catharine Bond Hill, Ithaka S+R’s managing director, sat down with Bloomberg News’ Scarlet Fu on “The Close” to talk about the shifting landscape of college admissions at highly selective institutions in the wake of the Supreme Court decision on affirmative action. In the clip below, Cappy discusses strategies college and universities can take to increase diversity on campus, including increasing need-based aid, revisiting admissions policies that privilege high-income students, and recruiting veterans. Further reading Alternative Strategies to…
Blog Post
November 9, 2023

Who Has Stranded Credits?

Insights from a New Ithaka S+R Survey

In August 2022, the Ohio College Comeback Compact (“Ohio Compact” or “Compact”) was launched to offer a pathway to re-enrollment for stopped-out college students with stranded credits in the Northeast Ohio region. The Compact allows stopped-out students to return to any of the eight participating public colleges and universities despite owing institutional debt and having their transcript withheld. Through the Compact, students are eligible to receive up to $5,000 in debt forgiveness and a release of their transcript…
Research Report
November 9, 2023

Institutional Supports for Students with Stranded Credits

Survey Results from the Ohio College Comeback Compact

As of 2023, 43.6 million borrowers owe more than $1.7 trillion in student loan debt. The burden of debt negatively impacts borrowers' ability to provide for their families, purchase a car, or buy a home. However, there is another, often overlooked, institutional debt that students may owe their former institutions after stopping out. It is estimated that 6.6 million students owe $15 billion in unpaid balances to their institutions.
Blog Post
November 8, 2023

Op-Ed in The Hill Highlights Opportunities Following Education Department’s New Transcript Withholding Ban

Almost exactly three years after Ithaka S+R first published national research on “stranded credits”—credits that students have earned but can’t access because their college is holding their transcript and blocking registration until they pay a balance due—the federal government is on the verge of eliminating transcript withholding as a debt collection practice. In a new op-ed in The Hill, we discuss a package of regulations issued by the US Education Department and aimed at protecting beneficiaries of…
Blog Post
October 5, 2023

Pell Restoration for People in Prison

Webinar Recording and Additional Resources

On September 29, we hosted a webinar, “Pell 101: Information for Librarians and Those Serving People in Prison,” to share information about the restoration of Pell funding for students who are incarcerated. Panelists included prison education journalist and Open Campus reporter Charlotte West, Vera Institute of Justice Associate Initiative Director Ruth Delaney, and NASFAA Education Specialist Sheila Meiman. We’re pleased to share the recording here. Below, you will also find our panelists’ responses to questions raised during the…
Blog Post
September 28, 2023

Is Your University Building a Custom AI Platform?

In June 2023, the University of Michigan’s Generative AI Committee released a report with a list of recommendations for how to adapt to increased use of generative AI tools like ChatGPT. One of the committee’s key recommendations was that the university provide “secure and equitable access to GenAI platforms and tools for the entire U-M community.” To meet this need, the University of Michigan launched a custom AI…
Blog Post
September 27, 2023

After Successful Pilot, the Ohio College Comeback Compact Moves to Full Implementation

The Ohio College Comeback Compact successfully concluded its pilot year, demonstrating proof of concept for a novel program aimed at re-enrolling college students with stranded credits and settling the institutional debt they owed their former institutions. The Compact is advancing to a full implementation at the eight original public colleges and universities in Northeast Ohio for the 2023-24 academic year. And, with generous support from Lumina Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, and the Joyce Foundation, Ithaka S+R will be…
Past Event
November 8, 2023

Four Perspectives on Re-Enrolling Adult Learners and Supporting Them Through Completion

In this session at the CAEL Conference on November 8 at 1:40-2:30pm ET in Key Ballroom 1, panelists will discuss the challenges they see and their approaches to supporting adults to complete their postsecondary education. Ithaka S+R’s Liz Looker will speak on stranded credits and Ithaka S+R’s projects to support adult learners seeking to complete their credentials, including the Ohio College Comeback Compact. Other panelists include Steve Ast, Mike Krause, and Dr. Mark Sorrells. Learn more about the…
Past Event
September 12, 2023

Solving the Stranded Credits Problem

Today, 6.6 million students are facing the challenge of “stranded credits”—credits that cannot be transferred between colleges. In a system of competing higher ed institutions, a never-ending discussion on which courses count toward credits has resulted in a portion of the US population left in a perpetual state of near-completion toward a degree. Sometimes, these students have unpaid bills to colleges, so their transcripts are withheld. Underprivileged students are often disproportionately affected. In an upcoming virtual forum on September…
Past Event
November 9, 2023

Increasing Adult Learner Enrollment and Resolving Stranded Credits

“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 institutions withhold transcripts when students have a balance, and Ithaka S+R estimates that 6.6 million students nationally have stranded credits. Like student loan debt, stranded credits are inequitably distributed: institutions with higher shares of students of color and Pell-eligible students are estimated to have more former students…