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How Schools Lie

The deceptive financial aid system at America's colleges.

No matter how talented, hard working, and committed a student is, if financing falls through, the dream of obtaining higher education can be dashed. But much of the financial data that prospective students receive is misleading. In the cost information…


The Student Debt Crisis is a Crisis of Non-Repayment

Borrowers are increasingly unable to pay down their student loans, leading to mounting balances and an intensifying debt crisis.

Think of the student debt crisis as an overflowing bathtub. On the one hand, too much water is pouring in: more borrowers are taking on more debt. That is thanks to increased demand for higher education in the face of…


Unceasing Debt, Disparate Burdens: Student Debt and Young America

JFI’s interactive map presents the geography of student debt.

Since the Great Recession, outstanding student loan debt in the United States has increased by 122% in 2019 dollars, reaching the staggering sum of $1.66 trillion in June of this year. Student loan debt has grown faster than other debt…


Mapping concentration and prices in the US higher education industry During and after the Great Recession, public funding for higher education was slashed as part of state budget austerity. Staff and programs were cut and tuition rose; in many states,…

December 20, 2019

Reviews

Renegotiating Education

Caitlin Zaloom's ethnography of the American higher ed crisis

Indebted is anthropologist and NYU Professor Caitlin Zaloom’s deep dive into the middle-class American family’s struggle to solve the college cost puzzle. Its animating question: How can middle-class families maintain their status and provide their children with as much opportunity…


Mapping market concentration in the higher education industry In much of the existing higher education literature, “college access” is understood in terms of pre-college educational attainment, social and informational networks, and financial capacity, both for tuition and living expenses. The…

July 18, 2019

Analysis

Student Debt & Racial Wealth Inequality

How student debt cancellation affects the racial wealth gap

The effect of cancelling student debt on various measures of individual and group-level inequality has been a matter of controversy, especially given presidential candidates’ recent and high-profile proposals to eliminate outstanding student debt.

July 8, 2019

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Higher education is widely understood to be a major driver of intergenerational mobility in the United States. Despite the clear (and growing) inequalities between and within colleges, it remains the case that higher education reduces the impact that parental class…

May 20, 2019

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Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 permits certain postsecondary institutions to be eligible for federal financial aid funds. A wide variety of programs are Title IV eligible: public, private, for-profit, vocational. Yet there are also a vast…

March 30, 2019

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Public research universities have long been understood as engines of meritocratic social mobility. Relative to other higher ed institutions, public universities remain those with the highest mobility rates. But research over the past decade has shown that these institutions are…

March 16, 2019

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Research surrounding student debt and the labor market value of postsecondary degrees focuses primarily on students obtaining a 4-year degree, secondarily on students receiving a 2-year degree, and only rarely considers students in certificate programs—non-degree awards that are cheaper and…

February 9, 2019

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This week, we delve into the persisting inequalities of our higher education system. Since Winston, Hill, and Boyd found that only 10% of students at elite universities came from families who fell within the bottom 40% of the income distribution…

October 20, 2018

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WHAT IS A FAMILY? Competing definitons of the term have vast policy implications The formal definition of family is “blood, marriage, or adoption,” but that leaves out many possible arrangements, including families of unmarried people, foster children, co-ops, and, until…

October 13, 2018

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CLAIMS THAT CAN'T BE TESTED What policy lessons can we derive from UBI experiments? Political philosopher KARL WIDERQUIST of Georgetown has published a 92-page book examining historical and current basic income pilots, the difficulties of extrapolating from policy research to…

September 15, 2018

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THE JANUS FACE The paradoxical outcomes of university-centered economic growth A recent paper by RICHARD FLORIDA and RUBEN GAETANI takes an empirical look at the role of research universities in anchoring local economies and driving economic growth. The paper examines…

June 16, 2018

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ROLL CALL  A new report from Fordham CLIP sheds light on the market for student list data from higher education institutions From the paper authored by N. CAMERON RUSSELL, JOEL R. REIDENBERG, ELIZABETH MARTIN, and THOMAS NORTON of the FORDHAM…

June 2, 2018

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ARTIFICIAL INFERENCE Causal reasoning and machine learning  In a recent paper titled "The Seven Pillars of Causal Reasoning with Reflections on Machine Learning", JUDEA PEARL, professor of computer science at UCLA and author of Causality popup: yes, writes: “Current machine…

May 19, 2018

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EACH POINT ON THE CHAIN Arguments for Value-Added Tax in the US, and using VAT to fund basic income VAT The Wall Street Journal lays out the basics popup: yes: “Unlike a traditional sales tax, a VAT is a levy…

March 17, 2018

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STATE SCHOOL RECRUITMENT | JOB GUARANTEE | BLOCKCHAIN DEPENDENCE EXTERIOR State universities' reliance on out-of-state enrollment Research on enrollment patterns finds that shrinking state funds leads admissions departments to look for out-of-state tuition financing. "Fixed effects panel models revealed a…

February 10, 2018

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AUTOMATIC PRECISION Translating randomized controlled trials into policy action "A randomized experiment is performed,a statistically significant comparison is found, and then story time begins, and continues and continues—as if the rigor from the randomized experiment somehow suffuses through the entire…

December 23, 2017

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INCOME SHARE AGREEMENTS Purdue, BFF, the national conversation “Long discussed in college policy and financing circles, income share agreements, or ISAs, are poised to become more mainstream.” That’s from a September Wall Street Journal article. 2017 saw new pilots and…

December 9, 2017

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THE FUTURE OF UNDERGRADUATE EDUCATION A new report argues that quality, not access, is the pivotal challenge for colleges and universities From the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a 112-page report with "practical and actionable recommendations to improve the…