Office of Planning and Budgeting

As the UW’s Office of Federal Relations reported on their blog, yesterday Senate Democrats released plans to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA). Their proposal focuses on four main goals:

  • Increasing affordability and reducing college costs for students,
  • Tackling the student loan crisis by helping borrowers better manage debt,
  • Holding schools accountable to students and taxpayers, and
  • Helping students and families make informed choices.

In addition, today the House Committee on Education and the Workforce introduced reauthorization-related bills of their own, including:

For more information, check out the Federal Relations blog and a recent article by EdCentral.  We’ll post more information on OPBlog over the coming weeks.

On Monday, The Equity Line posted the following piece about how the U.S. compares to the other World Cup countries in terms of degree attainment.

More Than Just a Game: Degree Attainment Around the World (Cup)

Posted on June 16, 2014 by Kaylé Barnes and Joseph Yeado

“Defying commentators, critics, and prognosticators, the U.S. has already performed quite well against the other nations competing for the 2014 World Cup. Yes, the competition on the field only started last Thursday and the Yanks have yet to kick things off today, but the U.S. is beating most of the competition in another competition: college attainment.

Among the 32 teams competing in Brazil, the United States ranks third for the percentage of adults with a 2-year or 4-year college degree.

It may look like America has trounced the competition, but there are two important facts that put these figures into perspective.

In 1990 the United States soccer team qualified for its first World Cup after a 40-year drought. Though it failed to win a game and was sent home, the U.S. was ranked first in the world in four-year degree attainment among young adults. Since that time, our men’s national soccer team has steadily improved, but our college attainment rates have not. The United States now ranks 11th among developed nations for young adults with college degrees.

The U.S. may compare favorably to other World Cup countries, but the data still mean that only 2 in 5 adults have some kind of a college degree. In fact, just 59 percent of students at a 4-year college will earn a bachelor’s degree in six years – not to mention that black and Latino students complete at even lower rates (40 percent and 52 percent, respectively). Ranking well relative to other countries doesn’t mean much when we are leaving so many of our students behind.

Third place is not good enough. More important to our country’s well-being than winning the World Cup is whether we have an educated population prepared to face the challenges of the new global economy. Higher education leaders and policymakers should look to the example of the colleges and universities across the country that are leading the way to improve student success and proving that low graduation rates are not inevitable.

The expectations of American soccer supporters have risen steadily since 1990, and millions are tuning in to watch our boys play in Brazil. It’s time that we raise our expectations about college attainment and the equity in attainment levels.

Only then can the United States realize its gooooooaaaaals of being first in the world on the fútbol pitch and in degrees.”

With graduation season upon us, the Pew Research Center has created a roundup of “5 Facts About Today’s College Graduates.” The article draws from several national databases and surveys, including the National Center for Education Statistics, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and Pew surveys.

1.       Only about 56% of students actually graduate within six years. Students at four-year, private, nonprofits schools have the highest graduation rates (72.9%) while those at public, two-year schools are least likely to complete their degree program (39.9 %) within six years.

2.       Business tops the list of most popular major, again. Since 1980-81, business has been the most common major. In 2011-12, one fifth of Americans earning bachelor’s degrees majored in business.

3.       Many recent graduates have trouble finding full-time jobs that require a college degree. In 2012, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that 44 percent of recent graduates were underemployed (i.e., working jobs that did not require a college degree). Of that group, only 36 percent made more than $45,000 per year.

4.       Despite this, college graduates continue to make more than people without degrees. A Pew study of Millennials who worked full-time found that the median salary for college graduates was $45,500, while those with some college made just $30,000 and those with a high school diploma made just $28,000. The gap has continued to widen over the years, as described in our recent post.

5.       Graduates still say that college was worth it. 88 percent of Millennial college graduates believe their degree either has paid off (62 percent) or will pay off in the future (26 percent). Among those with advanced degrees, 96 percent say their education was worth the investment.

To read the full Pew Center article, please click here.