Student Accountability for their Own Success

February 9th, 2012

NOTE: The following is an opinion piece written by Carlo Salerno that was recently published in the January/February 2012 issue of Today’s Campus. The views expressed here are the author’s alone and do not reflect those of Xerox Company or any of its subsidiaries, including ESM.

In one of the more classic episodes from The Simpsons, Homer expresses unbridled frustration with his computer as the screen prompt tells him to hit any key to continue. The punch line, of course, is that he can’t find the “any” key on the keyboard. Strangely enough, Homer Simpson’s follies and perceptions about college quality today share more in common that one might initially think.

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Federal Student Loan Volume for 2011-12Q1: For-profit Numbers Down Substantially

December 6th, 2011

This past October, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid released its initial loan volume figures for the first quarter of the most recent academic year. A summary of the loan volume dispersed, by institution type, is presented in the table below.

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Student loan servicing performance results

November 21st, 2011

On November 10th, FSA released its latest round of performance results for the four TIVAS (Title IV Additional Servicers) for the quarter ending September 30, 2011, and it looks like everybody was a winner this time around. Several highlights:

  • Sallie Mae had the lowest defaulted borrower count (0.97%) and defaulted borrower amount (0.54%)
  • FedLoan Servicing (PHEAA) received the highest borrower satisfaction score (75)
  • Nelnet had the highest school satisfaction score (75.67), and
  • Great Lakes had the best “federal personnel” score (73).
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    Educational Attainment and Unemployment: The Differential Effect of the Current Economic Downturn

    September 30th, 2011

    We looked at Bureau of Labor and Statistics data on unemployment rates by educational attainment in order to highlight the mitigating effects that differing levels of education attainment have on negative macroeconomic shocks. The figure below charts monthly unemployment for groups of individuals over 25 with less than a high school education to those with a bachelor’s degree or higher. The data ranges from January of 2001 through August of 2011 and is not seasonally adjusted.

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    Federal Student Loan and Grant Update

    September 23rd, 2011

    The U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) collects and reports quarterly volume data on the different types of federal student loan and grant programs under Title IV. Given the recent release of the 2010-11Q4 data, we wanted to examine the changing patterns of annual growth in both the loan and grant portfolios.

    The interactive chart/table below dynamically displays information on the various forms of federal loan and grant aid disbursed from 2006-07 through 2010-11. You can simply check the boxes of interest, and the entire dashboard will automatically update. Click on any part of the graph, the table, or the legend for further details and to download data.

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    Examining FAFSA application volume at for-profit colleges

    September 15th, 2011

    For most students, the process of applying to college routinely involves completing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which is the first step in determining a student’s eligibility for receiving Title IV (federal grant and student loan), as well as other state/private aid. As part of completing the FAFSA, prospective students indicate on the form which colleges they would like the federal government to provide that information to. As a result, many prospective students will submit FAFSA information to several different institutions.

    We looked at U.S. Department of Education data on the number of FAFSAs processed by the Department in order to get a better understanding of the demand for education at for-profit schools. One of the appealing characteristics of looking at FAFSA volume is that it captures school interest more substantially than other measures (e.g. website inquiries); a student must actually expend effort by completing a form and submitting it. The figure below shows the number of FAFSA applications processed each quarter by the Department that went on to for-profit schools between January 2006 and June 2011.

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    Faculty expectations and student reporting of time spent preparing for class

    September 7th, 2011

    Education does not occur solely in the classroom. The typical full-time undergraduate student generally spends 12 to 15 hours per week in direct (face-to-face) instruction, with the nominal expectation that they will complete 2 to 3 hours of “homework” for each hour of time spent in class. Understanding the extent to which mismatches exist between student effort to the education process and faculty expectations is important to a number of federal and state program design issues, particularly those related to academic preparedness for gainful employment and institutional quality.

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    Investment Loss in the Pell Grant Program

    August 11th, 2011

    The Pell grant program provides financially needy students with federal grants to help defray the cost of postsecondary education. In fiscal year 2010-2011, this investment amounted to more than $36 billion distributed across some 8.9 million students.

    Grant funding that goes to students who do not go on to earn some form of postsecondary credential may be regarded as investment loss, as economic studies on the private returns to education suggest little to no increase in the earning capacity of students who only have “some college” relative to those with a high school diploma or equivalent. The US Department of Education does not annually track the number of Pell recipients that go on to earn a postsecondary credential, though it does collect longitudinal data from the Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study 2004-2009 that can be used to characterize the number of Pell recipients who do not go on to complete a program, as well as the amount of Pell dollars they receive.

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    How Far do Students Travel for Postsecondary Education?

    August 3rd, 2011

    Annual data on how far students travel to obtain a postsecondary education is not collected comprehensively for all students; however, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) does collect such information as part of the quadrennial National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NSPAS) for a sample of the student population. The most recent NPSAS is from 2007-2008 and included approximately 114,000 responses.

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    Accuracy of BridgeSpan’s 2-Year CDR Forecasts

    May 7th, 2010

    Earlier this week, the Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid released aggregate figures for its draft FY2008 2-year cohort default rates (CDRs). These include draft CDRs by institutional control (i.e., public, private not-for-profit, and private for-profit), level of program (e.g., four-year vs. two-year institutions), and loan program (i.e., FFELP vs. DL). CDRs by institution are expected to be released by September 2010.

    Although a more comprehensive assessment of our forecasted CDRs will thus have to wait until September, the aggregate figures that were released do give us a first glimpse into the accuracy of our forecasts for the FY2008 repayment cohort. Our initial findings are as follows: