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Will Devoting Funds to Excelsior Help Students?

Free tuition at all public institutions in a state sounds great. Such a message could encourage students to attend college who would otherwise think it unaffordable, and/or could help students to stay in college.  However, given the particular policies associated with New York’s Excelsior Scholarship, what the future holds for Excelsior Scholarship recipients may not be all positive. Due to these potential negative consequences, New York State’s funds for this program could be better spent expanding existing services and programs that research has shown work well for low-income and first-generation students at New York’s public colleges. Here are some examples…


Re-Thinking the Case for Free College

I’m all about college opportunity and success and love the idea of swinging the doors wide open. At first I was taken aback, to put it mildly, by the notion of “free college,” but my thoughts are evolving. The idea may be worthwhile for what it’s doing to galvanize public attention to higher education finance. Whether it is viable public policy, from a practical political standpoint or a social equity perspective, however, depends on our willingness to look at the wider tax system. My starting point has always been to target social programs and precious tax resources as precisely as…


The American Talent Initiative’s Fall 2017 Data Working Group Meeting

In early October, the American Talent Initiative hosted main points of contact from member institutions in Washington, DC, for a Strategic Support Meeting, sharing research and connecting members around promising strategies for enhancing access and success for lower-income students. Later in the month, the American Talent Initiative held another convening, also in Washington DC, for the institutional research contacts of ATI member institutions. The meeting, run by Ithaka S+R and The Aspen Institute, had three primary goals: 1) to deepen relationships and form networks in order to generate momentum for our shared efforts to expand access and opportunity, 2) for…


How Research Can Fuel Action to Address Food and Housing Insecurity on American College Campuses

Editor’s note: We asked Sara Goldrick-Rab, a panelist for our Higher Ed Insights Survey, to contribute this blog post based on her open-ended comments on the 2017 survey. It’s been nearly a decade since my team first started studying food and housing insecurity among college students.  To be honest, it wasn’t part of the plan.  We were in the midst of a study on the impacts of a private financial aid program in Wisconsin. We expected to learn about financial challenges facing undergraduates, but were thinking about hardships like not having a computer or the books required for class.  Then…


How Policymakers Can Help Institutions Support Financially Insecure Students

Editor’s note: We asked Rachel Dykstra Boon, a panelist for our Higher Ed Insights Survey, to contribute this blog post based on her open-ended comments on the 2017 survey. Ask any teacher (pre-school through graduate school) for an example of a student with food, housing or financial struggles affecting the learning experience and heart-breaking stories will follow. Quantitative and qualitative research over the past several years has pointed to the growth in this demographic of college students as the country moved through a recession and into an economic reality where “getting ahead” carries a post-secondary training imperative. The growing body of…