Are Community Colleges Ready For Free Tuition?

October 2nd, 2015
Report questions free community college 
A new report argues that community colleges aren’t ready for the consequences of providing “free” tuition until they provide intensive counseling and “emulate” the for-profit college sector with relevant course work and internships. (Inside Higher Ed, Sept. 28)source:ECS

College Readiness Subgroup Gaps Pervasive In Best Suburbs

October 1st, 2015

 By Michel J Petrilli  Fordham Foundation     What the best and wisest parent wants for his own child, that must the community want for all its children. – John Dewey

The intuitive appeal of this oft-quoted maxim is obvious. It speaks to the conviction that all of the children in a community or a country are “our kids” and that we should want the very best for them just as we do for our own flesh and blood.

Taken literally, however, it is also problematic, for it equates “sameness” with “equity.” That’s an error in part because what “the best and wisest parents” want varies—some seek traditional schools, others favor progressive ones, etc.

But it’s also a mistake because children’s needs vary. Kids growing up in poverty and fragile families, and dysfunctional communities need a whole lot more than kids living with affluence and stability. And when it comes to their schools, poor kids may need something a whole lot different. That’s why I’m a big fan of No Excuses charter schools, which are showing great promise for low-income children—even if they might not be a good fit for many of their upper-middle class peers.

All of that’s been on my mind of late as I ponder the plight of the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) outside of Washington, D.C. (My second-grade son is one of its 155,000 students.)

MCPS, to its credit, is a system that’s long been publicly committed to equity. Especially under the decade-long tenure of Jerry Weast, its hard-charging superintendent throughout the 2000s, the district, its schools, and its board were obsessed with addressing achievement gaps. It poured additional resources into its poorest schools—aimed particularly at pre-school programs and smaller classes—earning it plaudits from reform organizations and equity hawks alike.

Yet beyond these targeted investments, the MCPS strategy has been one of Deweyesque sameness. Schools throughout the County use the same curriculum and enjoy the same quality of teachers—teachers who participate in the same professional development experiences.

What’s not the same, however, are the outcomes.

Let’s allow the pictures to speak for themselves. The chart below shows the percentage of MCPS students who met the district’s “college ready” benchmark on either the SAT or ACT this past year. Note that the denominator here represents those students who took at least one of those college-entrance exams.

Source: Table C1, Montgomery County Public Schools, Office of Shared Accountability, SAT Participation and Performance and the Attainment of College Readiness Benchmark Scores for the Class of 2015.

Those proportions—and gaps—are devastating enough. But not all MCPS students take the SAT or ACT; in fact, participation rates vary significantly between racial and income groups. Now let’s look at the proportions using all students as the denominator. (I’m assuming here that everyone who skipped the tests would likely fail to reach “college readiness” benchmarks. That’s probably mostly right, though not totally right. Keep that in mind.)

Source: Table C1, Montgomery County Public Schools, Office of Shared Accountability, SAT Participation and Performance and the Attainment of College Readiness Benchmark Scores for the Class of 2015.

Yes, you are reading that right. Montgomery County is getting just 11 percent of its low-income students to the college-ready level, and fewer than one in five of its minority students. (Low-income students make up about a third of MCPS’s enrollment.) After all of the efforts of Jerry Weast and Joshua Starr. After spending hundreds of millions of extra dollars on pre-school, smaller classes, and all the rest. Eleven percent.

This surely explains the heart-breaking situation at Montgomery College, the county’s enterprising and generally well-regarded community college, where almost 80 percent of students coming straight from high school must take remedial math—and where more than half of students never make it past remediation.

Source: Tables A-13 and A-14, Developmental Education at Montgomery County, Office of Legislative Oversight.

To be sure, “college ready” is a high standard. The SATACT, and NAEP all find that just 30–40 percent of high school graduates nationally meet that mark. And in fairness, MCPS sets an even higher standard for college readiness than the testing organizations do (1650 on the SAT versus 1550, and a 24 on the ACT).

Still, these numbers ought to be causing serious soul-searching on the MCPS school board. They ought to be dominating conversations about who should replace Starr as the next superintendent. They ought to be plastered across the Washington Post’s metro section.

The next superintendent should look at these numbers and develop an urgent and aggressive plan. He or she might start by asking: Is MCPS’s “curriculum 2.0” strong enough? Truly aligned to the Common Core? Might we learn something from the District of Columbia Public Schools and its efforts to create a robust, knowledge-rich curriculum in grades K–12? Might the county get off its high horse and invite D.C.’s best charter schools to set up shop in Langley Park or Wheaton or Gaithersburg? Are we doing enough to provide career- and technical-education opportunities to our young people, especially since we’re not doing enough to get everyone ready for college?

The search committee for the next superintendent might ask themselves: Why not try to poach Kaya Henderson from DCPS? Or Susan Schaeffler from KIPP DC? Or consider experienced reformer Jean-Claude Brizard, who lives just across the line in Northwest, D.C.?

The one thing they—and we—shouldn’t do is remain complacent.


Montgomery County deserves credit for making these data public and for its willingness to wrestle with its achievement gaps. That’s more than can be said about many suburban districts. Now it needs to take the next step and acknowledge that its low-income students may need something strikingly different than its affluent children do. It needs to reject “sameness” and strive for real equity instead. That is, of course, if it believes that many more low-income students than 11 percent could be—and should be—ready for college after thirteen years in its highly-lauded schools.


Economic Diversity At The Most Selective Colleges: Techniques That Work

September 30th, 2015
Learn What Works And Copy It! From CBEE, Sacramento 

The University of California’s nine colleges provide top tier education to the higher performing students of all economic backgrounds. That fact is one of the key points of this year’s College Access Index, a measure of economic diversity at the best colleges in the country put together by the New York Times. In fact, six of the seven highest rankings in the index belong to University of California campuses.  Even more telling, these colleges do not fit any particular model outside of having made economic diversity a strong priority and a strong community college transfer pipeline, which is key. A college education remains the most reliable ticket to a better job with higher wages. We should look this list of universities and do all we can to learn what works.


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80 Colleges Plan Major Reforms in Admissions

September 28th, 2015

September 28, 2015

From Inside Higher Education

80 Colleges Plan Major Reforms in Admissions

Eighty leading colleges and universities are today announcing a plan to reverse a decades-long process by which colleges have — largely through the Common Application — made their applications increasingly similar.

Further, the colleges and universities are creating new online portfolios for high school students, designed to have ninth graders begin thinking more deeply about what they are learning or accomplishing in high school, to create new ways for college admissions officers, community organizations and others to coach them, and to emerge in their senior years with a body of work that could be used to help identify appropriate colleges and apply to them. Organizers of the new effort hope it will minimize some of the disadvantages faced by high school students without access to well-staffed guidance offices or private counselors.

While the goals of the effort are ambitious, so are the resources and clout of the colleges today announcing this campaign. These colleges include every Ivy League university, Stanford University and the University of Chicago; liberal arts colleges such as Amherst, Swarthmore and Williams Colleges; and leading public institutions such as the Universities of Michigan, North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Virginia. The 80 members expect more institutions to join.

While they aim to create a new way for students to apply, they also hope that the portfolio system they create prods changes in high school education that could have an impact beyond those who apply to these institutions.

Read more of this article about the Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success by clicking here.

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How to Survive and Succeed in College?

September 28th, 2015


Melissa Burns

There is no doubt that getting a college degree can be quite difficult and challenging. There are so many classes that you need to attend and on top of that you also want to be part of many events and activities. This means that you need to make a good plan in order to keep a balance. The following is a list of tips that can help you manage the problems and stress that may occur once you become a college student.


Getting organized should be one of the priorities when you start your college journey. It is always a good idea to get a planner and stick to it. Use different colors for different tasks, update it regularly and you should be able to manage your time in a proper way. In addition, organizational skills can help you with your living space because if you leave your desk and room in chaos you will feel more stressed than ever. Try to keep your living space clean and remove all the things that you don’t use on a regular basis. You can use boxes for storing. If you don’t have sticky notes, buy some because they can be true life savers.


In most cases college expenses are so high that students don’t have the opportunity to spend extra money. So, when you are shopping in the grocery store or in any place where you can buy things that you need, look for sales. In addition, you can use coupons found in the newspapers or on the Internet. There are many special websites like Coupon Chief where you can find discount coupons that can significantly reduce the price of any type of product that you need. These coupons are very useful, but try to avoid the temptation and buy things that you actually don’t need. If you are interested in buying books, before you buy new ones, you should try few other options. For example, you can check the local library and see if you can get them for free. If we are talking about textbooks you can buy used ones instead of renting them. Keep in mind that when you are renting books you will need to get them back. If you buy the books you can sell them once you pass the exam. Finally, if you are buying food, try to buy food that lasts long. This doesn’t mean that you should avoid fruits and vegetables, but these foods should be bought in smaller quantities so they won’t spoil.

Take care of your health

College students are at their best age. They are able to handle multiple tasks without any problems. They are at the peak of their mental and physical health. This is why many of them forget that they need to take care of their health. It is crucial to stay healthy during college. Don’t forget that drinking water is necessary in order to renew the cells and to allow your organs to function properly. If you don’t take enough nutrients you may experience dehydration, exhaustion and severe headaches. This is something that can slow down your progress at college. Many students practice unhealthy diets which include processed food and consumption of large quantities of alcohol. If this diet is practiced for a long period of time you can expect to witness some health problems like obesity, blood pressure problems etc. in order to avoid that limit the intake of alcohol and include fruits and vegetables in your daily diet. In addition, physical activity can also improve your overall health. Almost every college has a gym that is free for students so use this opportunity to work on your health. You will feel much better and you will also look more attractive.


With so many things to do on college, it is not unusual for students to experience difficulties when it comes to studying. It is a good idea to create a list of tasks that you need to finish during the day and make sure to add studying on this list. When you are studying, turn off your Wi-Fi, turn off the computer (if you don’t need it) and find the perfect spot where you can concentrate.

Melissa Burns graduated from the faculty of Journalism of Iowa State University in 2008. Nowadays she  is an entrepreneur and independent journalist. Her sphere of interests includes startups, information technologies and how these ones may be implemented in the sphere of education. You may contact Melissa: – See more at:


Common Core For College Readiness Persists And Changes

September 25th, 2015

From US News And World Report:

After spending millions of dollars adopting and implementing the Common Core State Standards and aligned assessments, states are finally beginning to release preliminary results from the first round of tests administered to students last spring.

But it’s unclear whether the results will have any meaningful impact, as a growing number of states across the country are walking back their commitments to the tests and even to the standards themselves, a set of rigorous academic benchmarks adopted by 42 states and the District of Columbia,

“One of the selling points of Common Core is that when families saw this new data that was more honest, they could do something about it,” says Chad Aldeman, associate partner at Bellwether Education Partners, an education policy consulting group. “It’s just not coming to fruition like we would have hoped.”

The 2014-2015 school year was the first in which dozens of states participating with one of the two Common Core testing consortia developing the standards-aligned tests began assessing students on the new measures. Now, as preliminary results come in, it marks a moment that many in the education community have been waiting for since development of the standards began in 2009.

For supporters of the effort, the new, more difficult standards paired with the new, more rigorous tests would usher out an era of pretending students are well-prepared to succeed in college or a career. And they would provide, for the first time, an accurate snapshot of the state of education in schools across the country.

For others, the moment represents some of their worst fears: Without more time for teachers and students to adjust to the new standards and tests, there likely would be a significant drop in scores. And that would be particularly unfair for teachers whose evaluation and pay are tied to those test scores.

As education officials in states using PARCC and Smarter Balanced expected, preliminary results show students’ scores in English/language arts and math plummeted compared with previous years’ assessments, though the results aren’t entirely comparable since they’re aligned to different standards.

But with states flip-flopping on their commitments, the push to create a system that allows parents, teachers and policymakers to compare how students in one state are performing compared to another is in even further jeopardy.

In the last two years, states have passed various pieces of legislation to detach themselves from the two federally funded Common Core testing consortia – the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium – either by defunding the tests, issuing a new request for proposal to testing vendors or repealing the relationships outright.

The latest states where Common Core’s become a casualty include Missouri, Maine and Ohio. The PARCC consortium has suffered the most losses, with its membership cut in half from 24 to 12.

“We’re in the middle of an escalating fight about how much educational assessment is driven from the top down based on partisan and ideological agendas,” says Robert Schaeffer, the public education director of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, an advocacy organization that opposes high-stakes testing. “There is a rising national movement pushing back against the basic test-and-punish assumption that has driven assessment policy for the last 15 years.”

Schaeffer says Common Core assessments have been a failure largely due to the greater political controversies surrounding the standards themselves. He argues that states have had a good, common metric for decades – the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the nation’s report card, which is statistically balanced for cross-comparisons among states.

But some education policy experts who supported the move to higher standards and aligned assessments say there is still a lot to be gained from the current Common Core landscape.

“You still have over half the states in either Smarter Balanced or PARCC, which is a heck of a lot more commonality than we had last year,” says Michael Petrilli, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a right-leaning education think tank.

Besides, Petrilli says, ever since the U.S. Department of Education decided there would be two consortia, the commonality was never going to be exact.

“What matters to me,” he says, “is whether the test is well-aligned to the standards and whether they’re set at a tough enough level that we signal to educators, parents and kids whether individual kids are on track for success.”

However, even that notion may be in danger, as many of the 18 states that administered the Smarter Balanced test last school year have been reporting or framing results in their own ways. California, for example, focused on how its scores showed significant achievement gaps between subgroups of students, rather than the test scores themselves.

And last week, when Ohio became the first state to unveil preliminary results from PARCC testing, the state board of education altered the scoring rubric in a way that didn’t align with how the testing company interpreted the results.

For example, students rated as ”approaching expectations” by PARCC were rated “proficient” by the state board of education. And students rated as ”meeting expectations” by PARCC were rated “accelerated” by the board.

Ohio’s disparate ratings sent the education community into a frenzy. Those who have argued for more accountability at the state level worried the move signaled a return to a system that overstates the proportion of students who are on track for success, calling them proficient when in reality they aren’t being prepared well for college or a career.

“This was always supposed to be a partnership among states, and the fact that they can’t come to an agreement … is a bad signal for this whole undertaking of commonality,” Bellwether’s Aldeman says. “And it shows that even despite all this money, the political problems are just too challenging.”

To be sure, Ohio’s board of education didn’t have a choice. The budget signed into law over the summer by Gov. John Kasich, a Republican presidential hopeful, mandated those ratings. That was also the same piece of legislation that included language to defund PARCC entirely in the state, making Ohio one of the latest states to dump its Common Core test.

Illinois, meanwhile, which also released preliminary PARRC scores last week, used the ratings designed by the testing consortia. Nine additional states and the District of Columbia used PARCC assessments and plan to release scores in the coming weeks.

But states moving away from common assessments is a trend that experts expect to continue to grow, further fracturing what has been hailed by some as an important push to honestly assess student achievement.

Case in point: As the House and Senate work to conference their respective reauthorizations of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act – the federal K-12 law also known as No Child Left Behind – both proposals include language that would allow some school districts to opt out of the law’s required state assessments and instead create their own testing systems.

“I will definitely concede that we have lost the commonality of the Common Core, and that is only likely to get worse,” Petrilli says. “But I think the testing ecosystem is going to continue to evolve. Every state will eventually review the Common Core standards, and states will make tweaks and changes. Over time the Common Core will be less common, but I still think there will be a core there that will be recognizable.”

Knowing Your Learning Style Can Help College Success

September 24th, 2015


Do you know your preferred learning style? Or rather, do you know what one is? A learning style is an individual’s approach to learning based on strengths, weaknesses, and preferences. And knowing yourself as a learner is important if you want to achieve to the best of your ability.
When it comes to processing information, your brain is the most important part of your body. It’s where all thinking, learning, and decision-making takes place. If you know your learning style, then you can study smarter, not harder.
What’s Your Learning Style?

Information enters your brain three main ways: sight, hearing, and touch. By examining your learning style, you’ll become aware of how your brain learns best. And if you know how you learn best, you can also communicate more effectively with your instructors.
It’s important to note that everyone has a combination of ways in which they learn; however, most people have ONE predominant learning style. Learning styles are typically broken down into three major categories:
Visual – processing with your eyes

Characteristics of visual learners include:

•Prefers to read and write rather than listen.
•Enjoys reading books for knowledge.
•Can easily follow written directions.
•Has trouble remembering verbal instructions
•Prefers maps to verbal directions when trying to find a place.

Auditory – processing through your ears

Characteristics of auditory learners include:

•Prefers to follow verbal instructions rather than written ones.
•Enjoys group work and discussing information with others.
•Remembers by listening, especially music.
•Reads with whispering lip movements
•Finds it difficult to work quietly for long periods of time.

Kinetic – processing by doing

Characteristics of kinetic learners include:

•Needs to move, tap, swing or bound a leg in order to stay focused
•Benefits from in-class demonstrations, “hands on” student learning experiences, and fieldwork outside the classroom.
•Often needs frequent breaks during studying.
•Learns spelling by “finger spelling” the words.
•Often takes notes or even draws pictures or doodle while listening.

According to research, each learning style uses different parts of the brain. For example, auditory learners use hearing to process information while visual learners rely on seeing to learn. Kinetic learners learn best by doing or processing information in a hands-on approach.

No learning style is either better or worse than another. In fact, each learning style has its own strengths and limitations. But if you know your limitations, you can extend your abilities and reach your highest potential.

Study Tips Based on Learning Style

The introduction of theInternet has changed the way students learn and are taught. And with many students now enrolling , it’s important to recognize and understand your learning style in order to engage successfully with changing teaching methods.
Once you’ve identified your learning style, you can adjust the way you study and possibly improve your grades and overall productivity.

Check out the tips below to you learn and study more efficiently and effectively:

Visual– Draw pictures and diagrams in the margins while reading and write out questions you are working on. Underling and highlight text as you read and make flashcards for studying (use different colored cards). Copy over your notes to help with recall. Preview a chapter before reading it by first looking at the pictures and section headings.

Auditory – Listen to the words you read and read aloud or talk through the information. Record lectures, tutoring and study group sessions, etc. Make up and repeat rhymes to remember facts, dates, and names. Study in groups and particulate in class discussions and debates. Have a friend or classmate quiz you on vocabulary words and recite the word and definition out loud frequently. After you read a section, summarize it out loud.

Kinesthetic – Walk around as you read and listen to recordings of lectures and notes. Engage your fingers while studying by tracing words and re-writing sentences to learn key facts. If you have a stationary bicycle, try reading while pedaling and studying with music in the background. Try squeezing a Nerf ball or bouncing a foot on the floor.

Whether you choose to take classes online, on campus or both, knowing how you learn can make a significant difference in your academic success. A good teacher, online or in-person, will utilize multiple instructional strategies to meet the needs of all students, and the more you know about your learning style, the more you’ll learn.

Scott Hawksworth is with , a Chicago-based startup focused on higher education. Scott has been combining his passions for technology, the web, and education for over five years. He’s a graduate of The Ohio State University, and enjoys playing piano, reading, and trying out the latest video games in his spare time.

This blog does not endorse organizations that employ its contributors


What We’ve Learned From MOOCs

September 23rd, 2015
 Candace ThilleJohn Mitchell and Mitchell Stevens  written for  INSIDE HIGHER EDUCATION


Back in 2012, massive open online courses entered public consciousness accompanied by grand promises of revolution. MOOC proponents, often backed by private venture capital, promised to make higher education more nimble and accessible than ever before. Three years in, at least, it hasn’t worked out that way. Our own assessment is that MOOC mania brought lots of hype, promising technology, some compelling if nascent science and broader recognition of a huge problem that no silver bullet can solve.

Our own university began encouraging new experiments with online learning in 2012. Two of us were at Stanford then, helping to produce massive open online courses based on recorded video lectures, multiple-choice questions and audience discussion, conveyed via the Internet to millions of people at no cost to them.

Faculty members responded enthusiastically. By 2013 a new campus operation was created to support online instruction. It helped our faculty produce 171 online offerings, including 51 free public MOOCs offered repeatedly, reaching nearly two million learners.

No doubt about it, we contributed to MOOC mania. Here’s what we learned.

First, MOOCs are not college courses. They are a new instructional genre — somewhere between a digital textbook and a successful college course. Although they can provide much richer learning experiences than a printed book alone, current MOOCs pale in any comparison with face-to-face instruction by a thoughtfully invested human instructor.

No education policy that has current MOOCs replacing quality classroom instruction should be taken seriously. That said, most MOOCs provide free or low-cost learning opportunities, so it makes good sense to view them as positive enhancements to the overall education ecosystem. Letters of praise and thanks from thousands of grateful MOOC learners from all walks of life attest to the contributions of this new genre.

Second, MOOCs are no panacea for educational inequality. Ample research now makes clear that the preponderance of MOOC users worldwide are college-educated men in highly industrialized countries. MOOCs have not provided a remedy for deep-rooted disparities in access to knowledge. Recorded video instruction based on classes at highly selective colleges cannot easily serve broader audiences of less prepared learners.

Third, simply transferring lectures online will not provide effective learning on a massive scale. As anyone who has taken one can attest, MOOCs are not Socratic wonders. Most of them rely substantially on short lecture segments in a talking-head format, replicating online the stand-and-lecture pedagogies of conventional classrooms without scaling the discussion sections, office hours, late-night dorm-room study groups, drop-in tutoring, painstakingly graded homework and other components of a successful large college class.

Instructors often complain about the inability of current MOOC platforms to facilitate creative ways of interacting with learners, and they’re right. The learning process is much more complicated than merely sitting in front of a computer screen. Successful online resources have been developed and rigorously evaluated, but they require careful learning design and engineering to engage students in meaningful activity.

Fourth, on another positive note, MOOCs have raised awareness about how online learning technology might be used to support the science of learning. Every keystroke people make when they interact with an online instructional offering leaves a data trace that can be gleaned to support learning research. Research with MOOC data has enabled us to see where people get discouraged in difficult lessons and how they can be encouraged to persevere.

As educators design more complex online tasks that scaffold and reveal learners’ thought processes, and analyze the data generated by learner interactions, we will probably improve the effectiveness of online learning and advance science generally. Since ancient times teaching has been regarded as an art: subtle, complex and hard to specify. Computational descriptions of how people interact with learning material, teachers and one another make it possible to pair that art with new kinds of empirical knowledge.

What no technology can solve is a failing business model for U.S. higher education. Citizens benefit most from education early in their lives when they are least able to pay for it themselves. Yet students and their families are now being asked to pay ever-larger proportions of the cost of higher education as government support for college has increasingly taken the form of subsidized loans.

Sticker prices for tuition and fees at residential colleges have risen faster than the rate of inflation for decades, making what was once called a “traditional” college experience, complete with dorm rooms and verdant campuses and football teams, into a luxury service. Using present technology, effective online courses are more expensive to produce than in-person classes and we do not know how to scale them to massive audiences without corresponding costs.

At the same time college completion and ongoing professional development have become more essential for success in the labor market. Students, parents, entrepreneurs and politicians alike are eagerly seeking alternative forms of higher education, and for a brief moment back in 2012 many wanted to believe that the simple Internet technologies embodied in MOOCs would be the next big thing. It’s not that simple.

MOOCs have not fixed higher education, but they are poignant reminders of the urgent problems of college cost and access, potential forerunners of truly effective educational technology, and valuable tools for advancing the science of learning. That’s progress.


John Mitchell, Mitchell Stevens and Candace Thille are professors and co-directors of the Lytics Lab at Stanford University.

Understanding Student Loan Debt

September 22nd, 2015

By Rachel Fishman, New America Foundation

Today, New America’s Education Policy Program released the fourth in a series of College Decisions Survey briefs that analyze new survey data about what prospective college students know about the college-going and financing process. Part IV: Understanding Student Loan Debt focuses on prospective and recently-enrolled college students’ perspectives on taking out and repaying student loans. It looks at estimates of the amount students plan to borrow, their monthly payments, and their repayment strategies.

It’s well-known that graduating from college with debt has become a reality for the majority of American college students, but this study sought to better understand what amount students thought is reasonable to borrow for their undergraduate education. Most students (87 percent) thought that some debt was reasonable, but they varied widely on how much they think they should personally borrow for their undergraduate degree. Of those who thought borrowing for an undergraduate education was a reasonable expectation, 55 percent said the total amount borrowed should be $10,000 or less, and another 31 percent indicated borrowing should be kept to between $10,001 and $35,000. The median amount students deemed reasonable was $10,000 over four years of college.

However, when students intending to borrow were asked how much debt they actually expected to accumulate, the median amount jumped to $15,000 over four years. Some outlying students estimated they would borrow much more, pulling the average expected loan debt much higher to $25,295.

Prospective and recently-enrolled students also have a difficult time estimating their monthly student loan payment. Students who anticipate borrowing estimate that they will repay $545 per month, on average. Using the repayment estimator that the U.S. Department of Education Federal Student Aid office provides, the monthly payment on the estimated average debt of $25,295 at current interest rates would be approximately $260 on the ten-year standard repayment plan.

“Students struggle to understand exactly how student loan repayment is structured compared to how much they’re borrowing,” said Rachel Fishman, senior policy analyst with New America and the report’s author.

Three possible policy changes could greatly improve student understanding of their debt and repayment options:

  • Under the current system, financial aid packages fluctuate year-to-year. A system that used an average of several years of income to produce an aid package valid over the course of a degree would make it possible for students to interpret their aid amount in cumulative terms
  • Entrance counseling for federal loans could be enhanced by providing information to students each time they take out new loans detailing their cumulative loan balance, interest rates, and estimates of time to repayment
  • A simplified federal loan repayment system of three options—the ten-year standard repayment, income-based repayment, and a consolidation option that will extend the payment horizon—would help alleviate student confusion

More About the College Decisions Survey

New America commissioned Harris Poll to create and administer the College Decisions Survey. A national online survey was conducted between October 7th and November 3rd, 2014. The sample included 1,011 completed interviews and consisted of U.S. residents ages 16 to 40 who do not have college degrees and plan on enrolling in a two-year or four-year college within the next 12 months (n=747). The survey also included individuals who were in the first semester of their first year at a two-year or four-year college (n=264).

The five College Decisions Survey briefs will be released during the spring and summer of 2015 and will cover topics including:

  • Financial concerns during the postsecondary decision-making process
  • The application process for different types of students
  • Students’ familiarity with financial aid
  • Students’ ability to estimate their loan debt and monthly payments
  • The college search process and helpfulness of various common resources

Read the report here.

Follow on Twitter using #CollegeDecisions.

Where do dreams about college lead?

September 21st, 2015


Life in a college is a passport to the new unique world full of dreams, ideas, possibilities, along with limitations and responsibility for your actions. One can say that a new life begins there: new acquaintances, friendship, first love. Everything glows in iridescent colors. It helps to remember that the first serious disappointments are present in college life. In fact college is a just little drama practice before a serious performance.

How to fight down the first disappointments?

Here psychological stability of every separate student acts as the key and overriding factor. One should be ready to through the mill and move on; on this account skills of getting over a crisis that were trained earlier can help. It should be remembered that college is a simple training of your calmness under pressure. Truly adult life lies in store.

Do not lose trust in people.

Your acquaintances in a college will show all advantages of complicated human relations. In years to come one part of them will become lifelong friends, another part will teach you a few vital lessons and farther will chart their own course that probably will never meet your one. Place confidence in people with carefulness, in fact they will not be responsible for your decisions and acts even for those you would be stirred into. Liability is all yours.

Remember that you are a unique person.

There is no point to be tied to the chariot of your acquaintances because of the fear to differ from others and strike somebody as funny peculiar. Blending into the crowd does not make sense; in fact you will lose your time that can be spent with a profit to you. Latter search for personal fulfillment will not be a simple task. It may result in depression. Unfortunately a lot of young people confront such problem. You can avoid jumping into this bandwagon.

What path should be avoided?

It is not infrequent that the college students choose the way of quirky habits to combat disappointments and depressions. A slight possibility to relax becomes an alcohol or drugs abuse. Consolidation of information on college drinking and drug use clears up the reasons that explain what spurs college students on to come under dependences influence. For example, basic motivation of narcotic substances application is a misleading belief that it will help to increase concentration and stay focused. However it does not evolve the powers of one’s mind.

Who said it would be easy?

Undoubtedly, college study puts pressure upon students. Be realistic while assessing your possibilities. Brain-tire did no power of good yet. One successfully written test is not a guarantee of your successful graduation from college and not a further perspective of future employment. Every person has unique features. Do not bite off more than you can chew. At the same time play your cards right, as college will give you a lot of possibilities. Their proper use entirely depends upon your imagination and ambitions.

Melissa Burns graduated from the faculty of Journalism of Iowa State University in 2008. Nowadays she  is an entrepreneur and independent journalist. Her sphere of interests includes startups, information technologies and how these ones may be implemented in the sphere of education. You may contact Melissa: