At the beginning of the economic downturn in late 2008, a higher than expected number of Americans turned to higher education, leading to a 7.1 percent increase in college enrollment for 2009. This phenomenon is typical of recessions as many need to refresh their qualifications and/or increase their skill sets when faced with a volatile job market. A new NCES report finds that while enrollment increased again in 2010, it went up by at a more modest rate, 2.8 percent. Some other interesting findings from the latest NCES data include:
- For first-time freshmen, one-year retention rates were 72 percent for full-time students, but only 44 percent for part-time students.
- Public four-years got 19 percent of their funding from tuition dollars, while private non-profits and for-profits relied on tuition for 33 percent and 91 percent of their revenues, respectively.
- The average six-year graduation rate for full-time students across all four-year schools, public and private, was 58 percent in 2004.
- In 2009-2010, 82 percent of first-time, full-time undergraduates received financial aid. Of those students receiving grant aid, the average net price (sticker price minus grant aid) of attending a public 4-year university was $10,200 (the net price was $16,700 at private non-profits and $23,800 at private for-profits).
- Men made up a slightly higher proportion of enrollments in 2009 than they did in 2008, 42.8 percent versus 42.6 percent respectively.
To take a look at the report and data, click here. Find additional analysis in this Inside Higher Ed article.
A new report put out by the National Science Foundation examines math and science education at the elementary, secondary and post-secondary level. In general, the news is sobering: elementary and secondary proficiency in science and math is languishing below 40 percent nationwide. Chapter 8 of the report focuses on state indicators, featuring state-by-state breakdowns of science and math education. Important indicators include the number of Bachelor’s degrees conferred, the proportion of degrees in science and engineering (S&E) fields, state expenditures on higher education, and the prevalence of S&E jobs in the workforce. Interesting findings include:
- In 2009, 1.6 million bachelor’s degrees were conferred in the United States, up 29 percent since 2000. Of these degrees, more than 501,000 were in S&E fields. In Washington State, 32.9 percent of degrees conferred were S&E degrees.
- During 2010, the annual sticker price for a public 4-year education was $15,014, which represents a 43 percent increase since 2000 (after adjusting for inflation). This does not represent net price, since this number does not include financial aid.
- In 2009, undergraduate education at a state institution consumed 35.7 percent of a Washington resident’s disposable income. Note that this number does not account for the 20 percent tuition hike in 2010.
- State funding for major public research universities per student enrolled in 2000 was $10,107, which dropped to $8,815 in 2009.
- In Washington, 32.5 percent of 25-44 year olds hold a bachelor’s degree.
- 5.83 percent of Washington’s residents in 2009 were employed in S&E fields, up from 5.16 percent in 2000.
- Washington has one of the highest rates of patents awarded per worker in S&E occupations in the US—28.2 patents per 1000 S&E workers.
The report indicates that research is flourishing and that Washington is increasingly awarding more degrees in S&E fields, but also that state funding for higher education and affordability have decreased dramatically. We will explore this report more in future posts. To read more about the report, check out the Higher Ed Chronicle post or read the full report.
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This week, UPenn’s Institute for Research on Higher Education (IRHE) released a report assessing the state of higher education policy in Washington State. While satisfactorily describing the key facts and long-term trends and potential future problems for higher education in Washington State, the report is somewhat unrealistic in its recommendations. It seems to assume that, absent any change in state funding trends, policymakers can dramatically alter educational attainment via structural changes in governance.
Read the latest OPB brief for more information.
A new report by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce finds that higher education is becoming increasingly integral to earning a middle class wage. The Center predicts that, in 2018, while there will still be jobs for high school dropouts and workers with only a high school degree, good jobs for these candidates will be scarce and an associate’s degree, and for many, a bachelor’s degree will be necessary.
The report seeks to paint a picture of the likely employment landscape in 2018, including those job fields (or “clusters”) that are expected to be growing and pay higher wages. It further analyzes what educational qualifications jobs in that cluster will require, finding that upward mobility for workers without higher education will be difficult to achieve—most workers do not stay in the same job for very long and most higher-paying jobs require more education, not simply more experience. Other key findings include:
- In 2018, 37 percent of jobs are expected to require a high school diploma or less. Of these jobs, however, only one third will pay over $35,000 a year (defined here as the Minimum Earnings Threshold necessary to enter the middle class) and will be concentrated in the areas of Transportation, Distribution and Logistics, Architecture and Construction, and Manufacturing. The higher paying clusters are also heavily male-dominated, making higher education even more determinant for women seeking higher paying employment.
- Completing any degree significantly improves a worker’s job prospects and earnings. 54 percent of workers with an A.A .degree earn more than $35,000 a year, as do 69 percent of workers with B.A.s and 80 percent of workers with M.A.s.
- Health Sciences, Information Technology, Law, Public Safety, Corrections and Security are career clusters defined by this report as High Wage, High Demand, and High Skill. This means that wages are higher than the average wage, employment is growing quickly (more than 10 percent expected between 2008 and 2018), and most workers in these industries hold a postsecondary degree.
To read more about the report, refer to the Executive Summary or the Full Report. Also see the Chronicle of Higher Education’s article on the topic.
Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce released a report that investigates the importance of American science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) positions in the US economy and the perceived shortage of qualified STEM workers to fill them. The report finds that, contrary to popular belief, America already has enough students studying STEM related fields to potentially satiate the demand for STEM workers in the economy without seeking talent from abroad. However, they hold that a process they label ‘diversion’ redirects many students majoring in STEM fields toward employment in non-STEM areas because their professional interests and values do not correspond with traditional STEM jobs. The Center estimates that 43 percent of students that graduate with STEM majors immediately choose non-STEM jobs. It also finds that many high school students capable of entering STEM majors, as measured by their math SAT scores, choose not to because of their preferences or values.
The Center also provided some interesting statistics on the present and future of STEM professions, including:
- Wages in STEM fields are, on average, higher than wages in other fields (no matter what level of educational attainment), though healthcare and professional and managerial occupations still have higher wages
- Women and minorities are still underrepresented in STEM jobs, with women constituting only 23 percent of STEM workers. Women and minorities also make less than Caucasian men in STEM positions, though the wage gap is smaller than for other occupations.
- STEM jobs will grow to represent 5 percent of the labor market in 2018.
- Two thirds of STEM jobs will require a Bachelor’s degree or higher by 2018.
To read more about this report, check out the Executive Summary or the full report. Also note Inside Higher Ed’s discussion of the report and our previous blog posts on Georgetown Center reports:
The Delta Cost Project has published its latest Trends in College Spending report. This year’s version reports on revenue and spending trends in higher education from 1999 to 2009, the latest year of IPEDS data available at this time. As such, this version includes the first year of the recession’s impact on higher education finances.
Overall, the report confirms several already noted trends:
- The resource gap between public and private institutions continues to grow, and is now so wide that competition between the sectors is virtually impossible (see Figure 22 on page 43 of the report linked above for a stark depiction).
- At public institutions, the share of education related spending derived from tuition revenue has increased dramatically, surpassing the contribution from state appropriations at a number of universities, including the UW.
- At public institutions, tuition increases in 2009 represented cost shifting from the public to the student and not increases in institutional spending.
- At public institutions, administrative and maintenance spending remained flat or declined while spending on instruction went up slightly, indicating that, unlike previous recessions, institutions are making cuts more strategically to help protect the core academic mission.
- Whether from improved retention or decreased extraneous course-taking, student credit hours per degree appear to have decreased between 2002 and 2009, which is one measurement of efficiency.
- At public institutions, faculty salaries have been very flat as the cost of benefits have, on average, risen by over 5 percent per year, now accounting for almost 1/4th of all compensation costs.
Overall, this report does a great job of making it clear that the majority of students attend relatively affordable, cost-effective public institutions in the United States, even though a small number of pricey private institutions dominate the public perception. It also places revenue and expenditures in the context of student enrollment and the spectrum of university activities.
One issue we have consistently had with this report is the calculation of what is called the ‘subsidy’, an attempt to measure overall cost by combining various forms of institutional revenue with state appropriations and contrasting that with tuition revenue to determine what portion of overall cost is paid by the student and what portion is subsidized for the student. Our concerns with this measure were detailed in an earlier blog post and brief, if you are interested.
Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce has published a report entitled “The College Payoff” which calculates the lifetime median earnings of workers at various levels of educational attainment. As could be expected, the more degrees a worker has, the more they will earn, on average, in their lifetime. This holds true even for workers with different degrees in the same jobs: An accountant with an associate’s degree will make $1,636,000 in their lifetime, while earnings for the same position rise to $2,422,000 for a worker with a bachelor’s degree, and to $3,030,000 for those with a master’s degree. Other notable findings included:
- Holding a Bachelor’s degree results in a median lifetime income of $2.8 million, 84 percent higher than a worker with a high school diploma
- Workers with a professional degree make almost four times as much as workers without a high school diploma in their lifetimes ($3,648,000 versus $973,000)
- Women working full-time, full-year make 25 percent less over their lifetimes than men with the same level of educational attainment. In order to make more than a man with a bachelor’s degree, a woman must hold a doctoral or professional degree.
- Latinos make on average 34 percent less than white workers, African American workers make 23 percent less, and workers of other races and ethnicities (Native American, Pacific Islander) make 22 percent less. Asian Americans, however, make roughly the same amount as white workers.
To read more about the report, check out Inside Higher Ed’s analysis: “Degrees of Wealth.” Also read our previous blog posts about the Center’s two preceding reports on this same topic: Help Wanted, and The Undereducated American.
Education Sector, an education policy think tank, recently released a report entitled “Debt to Degree,” which measures the ratio of student and parent, government-backed loans taken by students to the number of credentials awarded by an institution per year. Based on this, the report concludes that:
- Across all institutions and sectors, for each degree awarded in 2008/2009, $18,102 was borrowed
- Degree to credential ratios varied considerably across institution types: On average, families at four-year public institutions borrowed $16,247 per degree, compared to $21,827 at private four-years, and $43,383 at for-profit schools
- Among elite research universities, Princeton, with its no-loan financial aid policy, had the lowest debt to credential ratio ($2,385), while NYU had the highest ratio ($25,886), due to its small endowment and less wealthy student body
- Washington state has one of the lowest borrowing to credential ratios in the nation, with debt to degree ratios in the $5,000 to $9,999 range
Note that the study excluded private loans and Perkins loans, which some argue might mask even larger debt burdens, particularly at for-profit schools where institutional financial aid is limited. To read more about the study, including its limitations, check out the Chronicle’s and Inside Higher Ed’s articles.
A new study, released by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center sheds light on enrollment patterns before, during, and after the Great Recession. According to the report, enrollment increased steadily from 2006 to 2009, and then decreased by 1.6 percent in 2010. The authors attribute this finding largely to a decrease in state funding for institutions, which led to significant tuition increases at many public colleges causing some middle-income families reevaluate their higher education plans.
In the West specifically, where 90 percent of students are enrolled at public colleges and universities, enrollment dropped from 467,000 students in 2009 to 455,000 in 2010. Interestingly, the West has the highest proportion of students at community colleges, with 50.8 percent attending public two-years. Furthermore, Western public four-year universities had the highest rates of retention and persistence in their region (retention being the percentage of freshmen that return to the institution the next fall, and persistence the percentage that continue their education at some higher education institution the next year), with rates of 73 percent and 85 percent, respectively.
For a more detailed discussion of the findings and limitations of the study, check out Inside Higher Ed’s summary here.
A survey carried out by The Chronicle in conjunction with Moody’s Investor Service shows college CFO’s are cautiously optimistic about future economic prospects for their institutions. The survey included 480 responses from CFO’s of public and private four-year and public two-year, nonprofit institutions. In the face of slow economic recovery from the recession, 32 percent of all CFO’s reported being more optimistic about the general U.S. economy, and 39 percent felt more optimistic about the financial prospects of their own institutions than they did a year ago. Among public four-year CFO’s, these percentages were markedly higher, with 42 percent more optimistic in general and 45 percent more optimistic for their specific institution. Further highlights from the report included:
- Overall, 60 percent of CFO’s claimed further layoffs in 2011/12 were “very unlikely,” though 19 percent of public four-year CFO’s said layoffs were still “very likely”
- Very few CFO’s are considering furloughs to cut costs, with 79 percent claiming they are “very unlikely”
- Public four-year CFO’s are about evenly split about salary freezes, with 45 percent planning to implement them, and 43 percent not planning to use this cost-cutting measure
- 18 percent of public-four year institutions reported increasing tuition by 10 percent or more in the face of steep cuts in state support
Despite the slow growth of the economy and high unemployment, some economic indicators are proving encouraging to higher education institutions—low interest rates facilitate borrowing, the stock market is up, and demand is higher than ever (83 percent of public-four years reported meeting or exceeding their enrollment targets this year). Additionally, philanthropic support is still a major component of university budgets, and most institutions plan to keep it that way, with only 12 percent of CFO’s planning to lower their annual giving goals.
Another survey by Inside Higher Ed showed college business officers a bit more optimistic. 52 percent of the business officers surveyed claimed their institutions were in good financial health, and 17 percent asserted they were in excellent health. Though most see no immediate financial emergency, 66 percent believe that potential cuts in core state funding or operating support would have a major impact on their institution’s quality. As in the Chronicle’s survey, most cited securing higher enrollment and more philanthropic support as being integral to future funding. Interestingly, 27 percent claimed they would have to lay off employees in the coming year—as opposed to 19 percent in the Chronicle’s survey.
Please follow the hyperlinks to read the full Chronicle and IHE reports, as well as the Chronicle’s and IHE’s analysis of their results.
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