When Akiya Parks first got to campus at the University of Florida, everything was new and exciting. Her mom and brother had driven her to campus and moved her into the dorms, she’d agreed to try a long-distance relationship with her high school boyfriend, she was ready to start a new chapter in Gainesville.
This was a dream come true: No one in Parks’ family had ever gone to college before, and her good grades, volunteer work and commitment to her community had earned her a full-ride scholarship — nearly everything was paid for. She got a new laptop, she bonded with her roommate and she crafted her schedule.
But a few weeks into classes, she started feeling sick. At first, she thought college food just wasn’t sitting well, but it wasn’t the food.
As students enter college this fall, many will hunger for more than knowledge. Up to half of college students in recent published studies say they either are not getting enough to eat or are worried about it.
This food insecurity is most prevalent at community colleges, but it’s common at public and private four-year schools as well.
Student activists and advocates in the education community have drawn attention to the problem in recent years, and the food pantries that have sprung up at hundreds of schools are perhaps the most visible sign. Some schools nationally also have instituted the Swipe Out Hunger program, which allows students to donate their unused meal plan vouchers, or “swipes,” to other students to use at campus dining halls or food pantries.
That’s a start, say analysts studying the problem of campus hunger, but more system-wide solutions are needed.
Some high school students think of applying to colleges as a full-time job. There are essays and tests, loads of financial documents to assemble and calculations to make. After all that, of course, comes a big decision — one of the biggest of their young lives.
For top students who come from low-income families, the challenge is particularly difficult.
Research shows that 1 in 4 juggle all of that — the writing, the studying, the researching and applying — completely on their own. One approach to make this whole process easier? Pair students up with someone who can help, a mentor or adviser, virtually.
Earning a bachelor’s degree used to be seen as the best way to guarantee getting a good job, but many students are now turning to certificates as an accessible, more-affordable route to professional opportunities.
Certificates are diplomas geared toward particular occupations. It takes less time to earn one than it does traditional post-secondary degrees — many certificates take several months to earn, compared to two years for an associate degree or four years for a bachelor’s. According to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, obtaining a certificate can help people increase their earnings later in life. Its report, “Certificates in Oregon: A Model for Workers to Jump-Start or Reboot Careers,” analyzes the effects of an academic certificate on the lives of their recipients in Oregon. The report found that the benefits of a certificate vary for workers depending on career, age and gender, but completing a college certificate typically boosts workers’ overall earnings by almost $5,000, or 19 percent, compared to their previous wages.
The saddest stories among those who owe some of the $1.3 trillion in student loan debt are those of college dropouts. They took out loans to go to school, hoping for a better life. But without college degrees, many don’t find good jobs to help pay back these loans. It not only ruins their lives, it’s terrible for the nation’s budget. The loans are financed by the federal government, ultimately leaving taxpayers on the hook.
Which schools are leaving taxpayers and students in the lurch most often? I ran some calculations, using the latest data, released in September.
The U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard tracks the number of students who dropped out with debt for each college and university in the nation. My figures show a total of 3.9 million undergraduates with federal student loan debt dropped out during fiscal years 2015 and 2016 (from mid-2014 through mid-2016). I found that more than 900,000 of these students dropped out of for-profit universities. That’s 23 percent of all the indebted dropouts, even though only 10 percent of all undergraduate students attend for-profit schools. Many more indebted dropouts, almost 2.5 million of them, had attended public institutions, such as two-year community colleges and four-year state schools. But the public sector’s share of dropouts exactly matches its share of the student population: 64 percent. As a whole, private nonprofit colleges seem to be doing a better job, accounting for 13 percent of the dropouts while educating a quarter of all U.S. undergraduates. However, the size of the debts of dropouts is the largest at private nonprofit colleges, with each person owing almost $10,000 on average.
The latest Republican-led effort to overhaul the Affordable Care Act could lead to spending cuts for state education funding from Kindergarten through college, Fitch Ratings said in a new report.
The bill introduced last week by Sens. Lindsay Graham (R-South Carolina), Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana), Dean Heller (R-Nevada) and Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) would keep a lot of the ACA’s regulations intact though it would eliminate the individual and employer mandate and shift insurance subsidies and Medicaid funding for coverage of poor Americans to block grants controlled by states.
In restructuring Medicaid to a “per-capita cap funding mechanism,” the new Senate legislation would replace Medicaid’s existing open-ended entitlement structure paid for via a match of funds between the states and federal government. If a particular state Medicaid program is faced with a large number of people in need of expensive medicines or treatments, more federal dollars flow to the state. States also see an uptick in Medicaid patients when companies lay off workers.
Saving for your child’s college education can seem like an impossible goal. Unlike with retirement savings, few clear guidelines exist.
College costs vary widely depending on where your child goes to school and whether they qualify for financial aid.
Fidelity Investments has tried to clarify college savings with a new rule of thumb: Multiple your child’s age by $2,000 to stay on track to cover half the average cost of a four-year, public university.
Under this strategy, if you have a 5-year-old, you would need to have $10,000, or $2,000 times 5 years, to be “reasonably confident” that you can afford roughly half of the cost of four-year, in-state public university, said Keith Bernhardt, Fidelity’s vice president of retirement and college products.
The U.S. Department of Education today released a report, “Advancing Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education,” building on the Administration’s efforts to expand college opportunity for all. It presents key data that show the continuing educational inequities and opportunity gaps for students of color and low-income students and highlights promising practices that many colleges are taking to advance success for students of all backgrounds.
More than ever before, today’s students need to be prepared to succeed in a diverse, global workforce. Diversity benefits communities, schools, and students from all backgrounds, and research has shown that more diverse organizations make better decisions with better results. CEOs, university presidents, the military, and other leaders have accordingly expressed a strong interest in increasing diversity to ensure our nation enjoys a culturally competent workforce that capitalizes on the diverse backgrounds, talents, and perspectives that have helped America succeed.
“America’s path to progress has long depended on our nation’s colleges and universities—and today, that’s more true than ever, when a college degree is increasingly a ticket to 21st-century careers and a secure middle class life or better,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. “Higher education is the gateway to opportunity for all people.”
Editor’s Note: State-by-state data follow in the table below.
Earning a college degree remains one of the most important investments one can make in his or her future. Over the course of a lifetime, the average American with a bachelor’s degree will earn approximately $1 million more than those without any postsecondary education, are more likely to repay their loans successfully, and is also far less likely to face unemployment. Ensuring all Americans have the opportunity to gain the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the global economy is critical to our nation’s economic competitiveness and success; by 2020, an estimated two-thirds of job openings will require postsecondary education or training.
The U.S. Department of Education announced the award of $144 million for 459 new grant awards under the Talent Search program. Commemorating 51 years since its inception, in 2016, these five-year grants will assist more than 300,000 youth across 49 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Federated States of Micronesia and Palau in gaining the skills needed to successfully graduate high school and prepare for college. Of the 459 applicants who competed successfully in the FY 2016 competition, 418 applicants will begin new awards in the 2016-2017 project year and future awards will be made to 41 applicants with one or more years remaining on their current Talent Search grants. This year’s grant competition marked the first year of encouraging evidence-based strategies for both secondary completion and postsecondary enrollment.
“For the past five decades, the Talent Search program has propelled more than 11 million students towards postsecondary success,” said U.S. Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell. “Because of the Talent Search program thousands of students, every year, enhance their ability to successfully transition from high school to college.”