Posts published in July, 2015

Give College Students A Better Deal On Loans


Almost four million federal student loan borrowers are using income-driven repayment (IDR) plans, including Income-Based Repayment (IBR) and Pay As You Earn (PAYE), with more enrolling every day. These plans can help borrowers lower their monthly payments and stay on track, but there are ways they can and should be improved.

The U.S. Department of Education is seeking feedback right now on a new proposed IDR plan, called Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE). REPAYE is better than existing plans in some key ways:

  • It would let all federal Direct Loan borrowers cap their monthly payments at 10% of their income, regardless of when they borrowed or their debt-to-income ratio.
  • Many borrowers would have lower monthly payments and a shorter repayment period than in the plans they currently qualify for.
  • It also does more to prevent ballooning loan balances by limiting how interest accrues when borrowers have low income relative to their debt.

But REPAYE could still be better, especially by providing loan forgiveness to all enrolled borrowers after 20 years (instead of 25 years for some borrowers as proposed).

Missed signals: The effect of ACT college-readiness measures on post-secondary decisions

PACE's picture

This post is from Andrew Foote (University of California at Davis), Lisa Schulkind (University of North Carolina at Charlotte) and Teny M. Shapiro (Santa Clara University)

In the face of shrinking government budgets and a growing need to train a high-skilled labor force, policymakers have become increasingly interested in cost-effective measures that induce more students to pursue post-secondary education. A great deal of research has been done to understand the barriers of college entry, especially for low-income students. These barriers can be classified into three primary categories: achievement barriers, financial barriers, and information and administrative barriers. Much is known about how educational inputs affect academic achievement for students in all grades. However, policies aimed at reducing achievement barriers are often costly and must occur early and continuously throughout a student’s academic career. Thus, until recently, much of the research in this area has focused on the financial barriers to higher education. Even with the availability of financial resources for higher education, a number of qualified students choose either to not attend college or to attend lower quality schools. These results highlight the existence of non-monetary barriers to entry into higher education, and suggest that targeted policies can help overcome these barriers.

Accordingly, recent research has examined the role of information and administrative barriers in the decision to attend college, and has shown that providing students with information about their higher educational opportunities, even late in their high school careers, can impact their decisions about post-secondary education. Our study examined whether students respond to information provided to them on their ACT score report about their own college readiness. Students who take the ACT receive a score report that shows their score (out of 36) on each of the four subject tests as well as their composite score, which is the rounded average of the four subject scores. If a student scores above a certain threshold (determined by ACT) in a given subject, they are informed on the score report that they are “college ready” in that subject.

Utilizing student-level data from the state of Colorado, where all students are required to take the ACT exam, we applied a statistical method that allowed us to compare students who earn scores very close to the college-readiness cutoffs. By comparing students who score just below each cutoff to those who score just above each cutoff, we were able to examine whether receiving the college readiness information had any effect on college going decisions.

We found that the college-readiness information had no effect on students’ decisions to enroll in any type of college. While recent studies suggest that students’ higher education decisions can be altered with information interventions, we found no such response. This may be due to the particular population we studied (those on the margin of college-readiness rather than high-achieving students) or the fact that the information was not paired with any assistance in undertaking the college application process.

There are a number of explanations for our findings. First, students may already know if they are college-ready, and these signals provide no additional information to the students.  Second, the college-readiness information may not be presented in a clear or salient manner. Although ACT is a reputable source of information and score reports sent directly from ACT are likely to be opened and at least cursorily reviewed, students may not carefully read their score report; since the college-readiness information is not highlighted, it may be missed by many students.  Finally, the signal may come too late for students to make major changes that would allow them to alter their college trajectory.

Since not all information treatments affect post-secondary decisions, policy-makers hoping to improve college attendance rates must carefully design information-based policies. Although information treatments can be inexpensive to implement, this study serves as a warning that it is important to understand which types of information and which methods of delivering it will have the intended effect.

The full study is in Andrew Foote, Lisa Schulkind, Teny M. Shapiro, “Missed signals: The effect of ACT college-readiness measures on post-secondary decisions,” Economics of Education Review, Volume 46, June 2015, Pages 39–51

10 Things You Need to Know about College Dorm Life

Jane Hurst

Going away to college is going to be a huge transition in your life, and you are going to be dealing with a lot of changes to your lifestyle. Here are some things you need to know about how to survive your first year of college dorm life.

  1. Not All Dorms are the Same – Before you choose a dorm, it is a good idea to talk to students who live in various dorms to see what they think of their accommodations. For instance, one dorm may be less expensive, but it may also be a party dorm and you will never get any studying done.
  2. You are On Your Own – Your mom and dad aren’t always going to be right there, and there is not going to be anyone in authority to tell you what to do. Now is the time to prove you can handle responsibility. Take control of your study habits, diet, social activities, etc. and create a mix that will ultimately ensure your personal and educational success. Don’t forget to take care of your health. Subscribe to a few useful YouTube health channels, such as CandidaCrusher, Better Health Channel and Healthcare Triage.
  3. Avoid Living with High School Chums – There are plenty of reasons not to live with your high school friends in college. For one, all of that high school drama is never going to go away. Also, you are not giving yourself a chance to be with new people and have new experiences.
  4. Your First Year is a Blur – There will be so much going on during your first year of college that you will be hard-pressed to remember it all by the time the end of the year rolls around. You will also be experiencing a number of emotions, ranging from excitement to sheer terror.
  5. Don’t Discount the Honors Dorms – You may think that all people in the honors dorms do is study, but you would be wrong. Sure, they study a lot, but they also like to have a good time, and you may find that this is the perfect combination of study and fun.
  6. No More Live-In Mom Maid – There is not going to be anyone around to pick up after you. You will be responsible for your own dishes, removing your rotting food from the mini-fridge, and basically doing your share of keeping your dorm room clean.
  7. You will Make Amazing Friends – The friends you meet in the dorm are likely to be lifelong friends. Many former students say that the friends they made in their dorm are still their best friends today.
  8. You must Get to Know Others – You aren’t likely to be accepted as soon as you set foot in the dorm. You need to work at it, and get to know the others who are living there. Take part in RA activities, so you can meet people and socialize.
  9. Your Roommates don’t Have to be Your Besties – Not everyone gets along with their college roommates, and that is okay. After all, if you live together and hang out together, you are probably going to get tired of one another after a while. You can be friendly without actually being best buddies.
  10. Be Prepared to Use the Library – Dorms can be quite noisy, and you are in college to learn first, socialize second. So, plan on spending a lot of time in the library or some other quiet place in order to get your studying done.

Jane Hurst has been working in education for over 5 years as a teacher. She loves sharing her knowledge with students, is fascinated about edtech and loves reading, a lot.

One-third of college students transfer schools before graduation


By Caralee Adams on July 8, 2015 11:11 AM

High school students in knots about where to go to college can take solace in a new report that shows it’s increasingly common to switch schools if they have a change of heart.

Just over 37 percent of college students transfer schools at least once within six years, according to data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center released July 6. The Herndon, Va.-based nonprofit organization analyzed the pathways of 3.6 million first-time students who enrolled in any type of college beginning in 2008. The transfer rate counts students as transfers if they moved to a different institution before receiving a bachelor’s degree within a period of six years.

When students switch, they are often going out of state. The report found that about 1 in 5 students who start at two-year public institutions and nearly 1 in 4 who enrolled first at four-year public institutions transferred across state lines.

About one-quarter of students who started at a community college transferred to a four-year school, but only 1 in 8 transferred after having earned an associate degree or certificate. A 2012 report from the center showed 1 in 5 students transferring from a two-year to four-year institutions were post-degree.

Researchers note that this trend may support the case for “reverse transfer initiatives” currently being pursued in many states that allow the transfer of student credits back to two-year institutions that may be able to award a degree. Among students transferring from a four-year college, community college was the top destination, according to the new data, with 53.7 moving to a two-year community college.

One quarter of all student mobility from four-year institutions to community colleges consisted of “summer swirlers,” who returned to their starting institution in the following fall term. Other research by the center has found this strategy can help boost completion rates at starting four-year institution.

The researchers note that the analysis shows the picture of postsecondary enrollment, transfer, persistence, and completion is complex and broader definitions of both student success and institutional effectiveness should be considered.

“The increased attention to student outcomes and degree attainment at the national and state levels are likely to lead to new accountability measures for postsecondary institutions that will need to go beyond the first-time, full-time cohorts that institutions are used to tracking,” the report said. “Looking at the outcomes of all students—nontraditional students who enroll part-time or switch their enrollment status from full-time to part-time and vice versa as well as transfer-in and transfer-out students—will be beneficial for public policymaking and individual students.”

Education Week





Health and Fitness Apps For College Students

By Jane Hurst

As a college student, not only do you need to keep your mind active, you also need to keep your body active. When you aren’t in your best physical condition, it can play a huge role in how well you do with your studies. If your body is tired, sluggish, and feeling poorly, chances are your mind is going to be the same. So, you need to find ways to stay in good physical shape so you can get through your classes, exams, etc. without completely draining yourself, both physically and mentally. Here are some online tools that can help.

  • Lose It – Sitting in class all day, and then sitting around studying at night can make it so those extra pounds creep up on you in no time flat. iPhone users can get the Lose It app that will let you track your calories for free. You can also track how many calories you burn while exercising, and there is loads of great information about the nutritional values of many of your favorite name-brand foods.
  • E-Cigs – If you are a smoker, one of the first things you need to do is kick the habit. Unfortunately, this sounds a lot easier than it actually is. One way to quit is to start using e-cigarettes. You can get them with varying levels of nicotine, from zero to full-strength, and they come in a variety of flavors. This is a great way to quit smoking, because if you do feel the urge for a puff, you can vap instead, and do your body much less harm.
  • Fast Food Calorie Counter – You are probably just like every other college student out there, and may tend to eat take-out food more often than you should, because it is so much cheaper than healthy food. This Android app only costs $2, and it has data for 9,000 menu items from 72 of your favorite fast food restaurants, including all of the nutritional information so you can make healthier choices when eating out.
  • Endomondo Sports Tracker – This is a free app for Android users who are into running, walking, and cycling. You can use this app to track distances, altitude, speed, and time, and even have a recorded history of all of your workouts. You can sync this app with Google Maps, and even integrate it with your music playlist.
  • GymGoal ABC – There is a free and a paid version of this tool (just $0.99 for the paid version), and it is great for those of you who like to use the campus gym. You will be able to use this app to calculate body fat, target your heart rate, learn your BMI, and more. There is even a muscle map that lets you focus on the areas you want to work out the most.
  • FitnessBuilder – This app costs $10, but it is worth it because there are so many workouts and fitness routines you can use. Track your workouts, calculate every part of your workout and create a workout that is ideal for your own fitness goals. This is an iPhone app that is recommended for those who are more experienced with working out.
  • Beer Gut Fitness – You are on your own for the first time in your life, and don’t try to fool anyone that you aren’t going to keggers and other drinking parties. But, don’t let drinking get the better of you, and of your health. You can use Beer Gut Fitness for just $0.99 on Android phones to track the calories of all of the alcoholic beverages you consume. The app will let you know if you need to exercise first, or if you have been good with diet and exercise and have earned a few drinks.

Jane Hurst has been working in education for over 5 years as a teacher. She loves sharing her knowledge with students, is fascinated about edtech and loves reading, a lot.

ACT To Replace Its College COMPASS Placement Test

Test sending too many into remediation
ACT is phasing out Compass, a popular course placement test that colleges use to determine whether students need to take remedial courses. Recent research has shown that Compass — and similar exams — funnels too many community college students into remediation. (Inside Higher Ed, June 18)

What Do Students Know About College Applications And Finance?

By Rachel Fishman

Today, New America’s Education Policy Program released the second 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 II: The Application Process focuses on how students go about researching and applying to colleges. It looks at the number and type of schools and programs applied to and the search behaviors of prospective students.

With more than 7,500 colleges and universities in America, students have several options to choose from depending on a variety of factors such as price, location, and programs offered. So how do prospective students go about the process of applying to colleges? According to an online survey of 1,011 U.S. residents ages 16-40, who were largely prospective college students (with the remainder in their first semester of college), a majority of prospective students (60 percent) plan to apply to more than two colleges, and about three-quarters (76 percent) had already started their search. The survey was commissioned by New America and conducted by Harris Poll in October-November of 2014.

Though many prospective and recently-enrolled students had behaviors in common, the process of searching for a college did vary based on age. Adult prospective students were far more likely than their straight-out-of-high-school peers to intend to enroll in online or hybrid programs. In fact, 76 percent of 30-40 year olds planned to enroll in online-only or hybrid programs (which blend online and face-to-face courses), whereas 66 percent of students aged 16-19 planned to attend on-campus only at a traditional ‘brick-and-mortar’ college or university.

It is clear in the college search and application process that older prospective students have different needs than younger students. And since students need to have good information in order to compare colleges and make an informed decision, it’s critical to consider how to meet the different needs of these demographics.

“While higher education operates in an imperfect market full of information asymmetry, policymakers and institutions can do better to make sure students are aware of their options–including providing information about face-to-face, online, and hybrid options,” said Rachel Fishman, senior policy analyst and the report’s author. “Targeting information to different demographics will ensure that they can make a college choice that makes sense for them academically and financially.”

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 Read the report here
  • 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 resolutions

New Concepts For College Debt

Once seen as the Great Equalizer, the value of higher education in the era of soaring college debt has come into serious question.

In their new book, The Real College Debt Crisis: How Student Borrowing Threatens Financial Well-Being and Erodes the American Dream, authors William Elliott III and Melinda Lewis argue that our current system of financial assistance imposes debt debt on vulnerable students in exchange for the promise of a college degree that may never materialize. Ultimately, the greatest costs are borne by the low-income students who must rely on this system, while students from more affluent families emerge unscathed. As a result, the Great Equalizer is becoming the Great Reinforcer.

Rather than patching the student debt system, The Real College Debt Crisis proposes striving for a college preparation and finance mechanism that helps America live up to her ideals. By shifting from a debt-based model to an assets and investment based model, the authors suggest that our nation can build a system that rewards effort and talent and reduces inequality.

Follow the discussion online using #realcollegedebtcrisis and following @AssetsNAF.

A Smartphone or a PC, what is more useful for a student?

By Melissa Burns

Nowadays it is difficult to see students with huge backpacks full of books. They were replaced by small smartphones, laptops and computers. Often when entering a college some freshmen may think what will be more useful for them? However, in our dynamic world all is fair in love and war.

The benefits of PC

Functionality of a smartphone

Smartphones are useful for their apps, but now there are a lot App for PC Hub’s available for our good old desktops. Imagine the situation: you are a student who lives miles from home because of a college, and with these apps you can easily download your messenger to a computer, and thus keep in touch with your family and friends fast and free.


Another huge advantage of a PC is that you can simultaneously operate several programs and apps, not to mention the fact that at the same time you can watch a movie in another browser window. In a way, thanks to a PC a student becomes a real Julius Caesar, who was famous for his ability to do several things at one time.


The screen of a desktop computer or notebook provides greater visual capabilities, and it is less stressful for your eyes if you read a lot or watch videos. Also, a regular keyboard is still a winner when it comes to writing papers and reports.

The benefits of a smartphone


Of course, one of the main advantages of a smartphone is its size. The smartphone is easy to carry, download apps, make calls, set reminders, make notes. Your smartphone is your particle, it is an alarm clock, and an Address Book, and a camera, and a mirror, and a phone, and a library, and a cinema, and the cook, etc…  You don’t have to organize a special room for it, or buy a table, it can live comfortably in your pocket.


Yes, even though to get a good smartphone you’ll have to fork out, still it is a great way to save money. Firstly, if you are a student from another country, you can save on calls to your family. Apps such as viber help to make free calls around the globe. Secondly, soon you won’t have to spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars on expensive educational publications, as the Google Play Books now allows to rent books for 180 days. It’s a bargain, since you do not have to buy the whole manual for the sake of one chapter.

Personal assistant

Another advantage of the smartphone is its ability to be always at hand: as a voice recorder at a lecture, as a music player in the gym, as a camera at a party. If you work on your report, it will always be there to record your thoughts.

Smartphones are definitely ahead, but some features they still are not capable of. So when you leave for college, you need to think well, why do you need a PC or smartphone, weigh all of the features and then make a decision.

Author’s bio

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: