Posts published in August, 2015



As we all know, summer is the time to relax. For many students, this means turning off our brains completely and only writing tweets and Instagram captions. Even if you planned to have an extremely productive summer, reading books relevant to your education, you probably ended up by the pool somewhere, reading a blog post.

Well, the new semester is only a few weeks away, and nothing is as important as impressing your new professors early on. Here’s how you reset your beach brain and kick your writing into gear so you can dazzle everyone with the very first thing you write this year:

Start with the basics. Remember all that stuff that you learned in school about essay composition and mapping it out before you put pen to paper? Time to brush up on it. If you’ve forgotten everything you’ve ever been taught, a good rule of thumb is to divide your essay into thirds, each with a singular mission: describing a phenomenon, dissecting it from your perspective and discerning what the implications of it are.

Review what you’ve written before. Hopefully, you’re not one of those people who delete everything they’ve written during the semester once finals are over. Read the work you’ve submitted in the past and look at the feedback you got on it. What do you want to change? If you were writing the same thing now, what would you do differently? Look at the feedback you received once more and note what issues keep coming up again and again.

Remind yourself what proper sourcing means. When you’re making a point, which is essential in a college essay, always remember to have at least one significant source. A great way to please your professor is having one of each: an expert opinion, a reputable study, and a historical example or analogy. And try to avoid the common mistake of just following your sources’ outline. This usually results in something that reads as a list of things tied together by “and then…”.


Remember the motive. In college, you’re probably writing because it’s your homework assignment, but that’s not where good writing comes from. Before starting your outline and even before you start compiling sources, think about the things you want to accomplish, what point of view you want to show and how you want to show it. A good essay is someone’s original thought framed by some expertise in the subject, backed up by good sources and framed by strong argumentation. Some jokes wouldn’t hurt, either, but use them sparringly.

Learn how to read something closely. The best writers are attentive readers, so commit some time to learning how to read in a way that would be productive to your work. Take out a book, pick up a pencil and underline everything that strikes you as interesting, surprising or useful. Look for useful patterns like repetitions, contradictions or similarities and see if their combination tells you anything.

Get inspired. Even motivated writers need to look for something to drive them from time to time. Pick out a few authors whose work you are fond of and mine the Interned for previously undiscovered work of theirs (trust me, there’s always something). I guarantee that, after reading the work of someone you admire, your motivation will revitalize.

Write a practice essay. No doubt, there’s a story in the news right now that’s getting your attention. After brushing up on everything you’re supposed to remember before college starts, put it to good use and solidify your knowledge by writing a practice essay. Look at how writing without all that pressure treats you and you might even enjoy writing, who knows? Maybe it won’t be such a labor now that you don’t have to write for a grade. And if it doesn’t go so well, just remember the advice most professional writers give to people who are just starting out: the only way to become a good writer is to write more bad stuff.

Hopefully, this guide will be helpful to all you students getting ready to start the semester in a productive way. In any case, nothing you do will be better for your writing than reading constantly and thinking about what you read. Ask any professional writer and they’d tell you the same thing.

Janice Kersh is a blogger, writing expert at and freelance writer with 4+ years of experience. She helps students and young authors to develop their writing skills and provides tips for editing and thorough research. Follow her on Twitter.

Things every new student entrepreneur should pay attention to

By Melissa Burns
College students of 2015 can obviously be named the generation Z. It is a completely new generation of people born and raised in the era of rapid development of technology and the “business out of the air.” Generation Z fundamentally differs from students who were before them. However, there is still something in common between them. So as college students before 2000, the college students after 2000 dream of success in their lives. However, if previously success could be marked by a degree, well paid job in a company and full social package, nowadays all of this is just a bonus to real success. Young people no longer dream to work for Coca-Cola or on Wall Street. Now they want to have their own business. Despite the fact that huge corporations don’t lose their positions we can watch the booming of small business, too. The main axiom of a young small business in 2015 is “do something small, but be the best in it!”

This explains the huge number of startups, which is growing rapidly every year. It will not be a mistake if we say that almost every third student wants to start a small business. Is there any universal advice that will help them with this difficult matter in 2015?

So, to navigate your future career, students need to know about:

Ability to use free Internet tools

Indeed, it can be very useful. After starting business while in college, it is very unlikely that a student will posses enough money to pay for customized web design, promotion, advertising and other costs. A little time spent on the internet will help you to find for example that is a free website builder service, or a platform for online marketing. Another great way to claim yourself is to write a guest post in the quality authoritative blog. The ability to search for free options will help to save money, and that is always useful.


In order to start a business and achieve some success in it, you will need a powerful motivation. And this motivation should concern not only the desire to make money. It should encourage you to assess your business skills correctly, find out the niche in which your idea will be best implemented. It is necessary to develop a stellar business plan, and even if it is perfect at a first glance, you must not shun and do amendments if it is necessary. Flexibility and the ability to evolve helped people to survive in wild nature, and the same happens to businessmen in business.

Continuous self-development

Efforts should be made to engage in competitors’ research, so that no area would be left unknown. Adequate assessment of your competitors success can bring fresh ideas to your own business. Also try not to miss any trading shows personally. Another good advice is not to reject the help of a mentor. Even if you think that you have made a perfect business plan and started to implement it, it does not mean that the advice of an experienced person in this field will not make your plan better. Learn to listen.

Conclusion: believe in your success and do not give up at the first fall. Most of all, you’ll learn about business only by being involved in it, not sitting at a lecture by Professor with a textbook on economics. Trial and error has always been the best teacher.

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:



Pell Grants Go To Dropouts, Over 850 Colleges Drop SAT/ACT

From ECS:

Financial Aid 
Billions in Pell dollars go to students who never graduate
An analysis of Pell grant graduation rate data from a cross section of colleges and universities suggests that billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded Pell grants nationwide go to students who never earn degrees. (Hechinger Report, August 17)

More colleges drop standardized tests
More than 850 U.S. colleges and universities no longer require applicants to take the SAT or ACT, tests that have been a feature of American student life for decades. (Reuters, August 16)

Let the Best Assignment Writing Tools Make You a Better Student!


Can you think of a student who loves writing assignments for college? If some of your classmates are enthusiastic about different projects, they have probably found the right online tools and apps that help them research and write with no obstacles. Fortunately, you can do the same!

This list of the 8 effective assignment writing tools will help you cover all stages of the writing process with ease.

Assignment Survival Kit

This tool has a noble goal: enabling freshmen to complete their first assignments with success. Staffordshire University tries to develop digitally and technologically literate graduates, and the Assignment Survival Kit contributes towards that mission. The software helps you plan your time and tackle the assignment step by step. You enter the date when you start working on the project, as well as the deadline, and you get an assignment schedule for the steps you need to cover.

Creating Successful Research Skills Assignments – Penn Libraries

This online resource offers detailed explanations about a particular type of assignments: research papers. You will understand the purpose of these projects, you’ll get example assignments, and tips for creating your own content.

Assignment Help

You need something more than advice and tips when you’re working on a particularly challenging assignment? You can hire professional Aussie writers at this website. When you submit an order, you’ll start collaborating with an expert from the appropriate field of study. The direct messaging system enables you to monitor the progress of your assignment and see how a talented author crafts content from scratch. The customer support agents are available 24/7, so you can get all needed information before placing the order.

Writing – Study Guides and Strategies

Many students don’t like reading essay writing guides; they think they will develop these skills intuitively. That won’t happen. You need to know which stages to cover before you get to the flawless paper. At this website, you’ll find a detailed explanation of the process and types of writing. In addition, you’ll also get links to helpful guides that can help you write better.


Your teachers are not explaining the essay writing process well? Maybe you need to learn from someone who is more interested in helping you become a successful academic writer. This online service enables you to learn from a certified teacher for a really affordable price. You’ll get quick and honest feedback that will enable you to write better assignments in a shorter period of time.


This is the perfect website to rely on when searching for trusted reference information. The search engine launches information from trusted sources, such as encyclopedias, thesauruses and dictionaries. When you locate materials you can use, Encyclopedia will enable you to get an instant citation in MLA, Chicago, and APA style.


Every great assignment starts with detailed planning. This note-taking app will help you track your thoughts and ideas on the go. You cannot plan when to get ideas, so this smartphone app is very useful for every student. You’ll be able to find notes by the tags you attached to them. The best part is that Simplenote is a collaborative tool – it enables you to publish your thoughts and get feedback.

iA Writer

This iPad app enables you to write on a distraction-free screen. Your attention won’t be consumed by unnecessary features, so the writing and editing processes will be much more focused and effective. Your content will be automatically synced to Dropbox and iCloud, so you won’t have to worry about losing your work.

The most important thing you need to remember is that assignment writing is not as difficult as it seems. Your professors are not trying to make your life miserable with these project; they are teaching you how to become more focused, attentive to details, and able to express your ideas with authoritative arguments. Now that you found the right tools, you can finally meet their expectations.

Author bio:

Robert Morris has worked in education for over 7 years as a teacher, school newspaper adviser, literacy consultant, curriculum writer. He provides teaching and learning materials

Regulation For An Unbundled World: Nano, Stackable Degrees

Moving beyond college: Rethinking higher education regulation for an unbundled world

Michael B. Horn and Andrew P. Kelly

Key points

  • New “unbundled” higher education providers with modular, low-cost offerings powered by technology have begun to emerge, but they are constrained by the higher education regulatory system’s reliance on the traditional bundled model.
  • Policymakers could set up a path for these providers to receive federal aid in exchange for enhanced transparency on outcomes and cost, use independent authorizers to approve new providers and hold them accountable, or establish a market-entry regime based on labor-market outcomes and student satisfaction relative to an institution’s total expenditures.
  • Policymakers could also develop new financing approaches that may reduce taxpayer risk. They could require new providers to put up private capital to become eligible for federal aid and reimburse them if they exceed agreed-upon outcome targets or utilize tools like need-based grants and income-share agreements to spread risk across students and investors.
  • Policymakers may also simply wait for this emerging market to mature on its own and let consumer demand and competition drive innovation, though this pathway is slow and uncertain.

Read this publication online.

View a printable copy.

Few Parents Know About Substantial Changes In The SAT

New York, NY (August 24, 2015)—A Kaplan Test Prep survey finds that 85% of parents of college-bound students are still unaware that the SAT is changing, even after two years since the change was announced and less than seven months before the new SAT launches in March 2016.* When provided more details about the proposed changes to the SAT, the surveyed parents’ opinions about the new format were divided: 30% say they viewed the changes as something negative or think the exam will be harder; 30% view the changes as something positive; 20% are indifferent; and 15% still don’t know enough to form an opinion. However, views on specific changes reveal that a majority of parents believe the new SAT will be harder:

  • Math: The current SAT focuses on computational skills and allows students to use a calculator during all sections. The new SAT will focus on advanced algebra, data analysis, and real-world problem solving and calculators will only be permitted for one of two math sections. Fifty-six (56%) percent of parents say these changes make the Math portion of the new SAT harder; 18% say it will become easier; and 26% say it makes no difference.
  • Reading: The current SAT Reading section includes three 20-25 minute sections of sentence completions, and long- and short-passage reading questions. The new SAT Reading section will last 65 minutes and be made up of long passages followed by reading comprehension questions and will also test understanding of passages from U.S. and World Literature, History/Social Science and Science. Fifty-three (53%) percent of parents say the redesigned SAT Reading section will be harder than the current one; 12% say it will become easier; and 36% say it makes no difference.
  • Writing and Language/Grammar: The current SAT tests grammar in the form of individual sentence correction. The new SAT will test grammar in the form of passages and will also include questions about structure and reading comprehension. Fifty-three (53%) percent of parents say the Writing and Language/Grammar portion of the new SAT will become harder; 13% say it becomes easier; and 34% say it makes no difference.
  • Essay: The current SAT essay is required, and asks students to develop a persuasive essay about an issue; facts and grammar have little bearing on the overall score. The new SAT essay is optional, and asks students to read a 650-750 word passage and then prepare a facts-based essay analyzing how the author builds her/his argument. Sixty (60%) percent of parents say the SAT essay will become harder; 15% say the essay will become easier; and 25% say it makes no difference.

No Wrong Answer Penalty: The current SAT includes a ¼ point penalty for wrong answers. The new SAT eliminates the wrong answer point penalty. Fifty-six (56%) percent of parents say this change will make the new SAT easier; 22% say the change will make it harder; and 23% say it makes no difference

who should go to college; where should they go; and who is going to pay for it.

by Dr. Watson Scott Swail, President & CEO, Educational Policy Institute

Well, it’s another school year. Students around the country have started the sojourn back to their elementary, secondary, and postsecondary schools—the pathway to enlightenment for some; the tunnel of darkness for others.

This year’s return is framed by a political discussion that has raised the platform of education as a federal issue. Although we haven’t heard much from the GOP side of things, both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have made education a seminal platform of their respective campaigns. I have been fairly vocal in my opposition to their views of a “free” higher education, and I don’t think they have much political capital, even if either of them were to become president.

Yesterday, Lumina Foundation released a framework to discuss what is affordable for students and families with regard to higher education. This is a different twist compared to the constant “college is unaffordable” dialogue that we host most of the time (me included). The framework talks much about using a family’s disposable income as a gauge for expected family contribution (EFC). This makes sense, but as their own analysis shows, it does not provide near enough in one sense and arguably too much by another. According to Lumina, a family should contribute what can be saved over 10 years through a metric of 10 percent of disposable income. Makes sense, until you also want those families to save at least 10 percent of disposable income for retirement, and those families that do believe in tithing and supporting their church and community. All of the sudden, disposable income is goggled up pretty quickly. Even by Lumina numbers, that 10 percent, for a family of four earning $50,000/year, equates to $1,500/year in EFC. By the way, most families at that level do not save for college; they do not save for retirement; they do not have pension plans. They work.

NOTE: This is a significant issue because we are now seeing the first retirees who have student loan debts and we are the verge of the first generation that will have emptied their retirement accounts, if they had them at all, to pay for their children’s higher education.

Also according to Lumina, the net cost for a four-year public education is now $111,600, and according to their calculations, a family of four should provide up to $6,000 for that education. I’m not sure what federal or state plan will account for the remaining $105,600 of the cost. Pell sure won’t cover it. Institutional aid and discounting won’t help too much at public institutions. So it comes back to other family resources in the form of (a) student work; (b) student loans (sub and unsub); and family loans (PLUS and private loans). The Lumina report suggests that students can work 10 hours a week and hazards against more. In some cases, students need to work more, and most research suggests that students can work up to 20 hours a week with little or no impact on their studies. But they have to earn funds to assist with college.

Most Americans feel that a college education is important. The 2014 Phi Delta Kappan/Gallup Poll found that 43 percent of those surveyed felt that college was important and an additional 48 percent stated “fairly important.” Only nine percent said it wasn’t that important (Interestingly, 58 percent of Democrats selected “very important” compared to 40 percent of Republicans). Regardless, these numbers resonate with many of us. College is important.

But this conversation comes back to three critical issues: who should go to college; where should they go; and who is going to pay for it.

The first and second questions invites a more lucid, honest, and robust discussion of why we need higher education. This sounds academic, if not elementary, but many of the pundits and analysts in our higher education/workforce arena have done a remarkably poor job of making the argument that we need more college. There is little evidence that we need more. We need better. We need more higher education that is connected to the workforce and societal needs. But we don’t need more degrees. We need more equity of opportunity, but we don’t need more BAs in the United States. We arguably need less. We need more people with stackable credentials and specific skills, many that can be trained in the workforce by companies and corporations and apprenticeships. And not all of these are blue collar positions. At EPI, we can take a smart, young person and teach them up to the talent of a person who has been master’s trained in research. I attended some pretty decent colleges in my time, but I learned most of my research in the field. I learned little about teaching in my undergrad; I learned almost everything in the classroom. The graduate level courses and experience helped, but nothing compared to working on projects with season veterans. So why did I need a Ph.D.? Because the field requires credentials before skills. I know great researchers with BAs that many Ph.D.s can’t hold a candle to. It isn’t about the degree. It’s about the skill. And we do a very poor job of linking higher education with the workforce, and it is costing us billions of dollars in excessive “training” at excessively expensive institutions.

The question of who will pay is important, as Lumina attests. But we cannot talk about affordability without talking about the cost centers. College is too expensive and we have finally reached a point where it just doesn’t make financial sense to a majority of students. Our economy is asking for $100,000+ for a degree from which their graduates will either be unemployed, not working in their field, or earning $30,000 to $40,000/year. Yes, some make a lot more. But most do not. An entry level teacher earns between $27,000 and $49,000/year with an average of $36,000. The higher numbers, by the way, are driven by cost of living in more expensive cities. College professors, by the way, average only $42,000/year. Many of those who will read this letter earn over $125,000, I’m guessing. You’re earning more than your colleagues (or are they earning more than you?).

But everything hinges around the cost centers. We cannot talk about affordability in a meaningful way without talking about controlling the escalating costs of higher education. The model has to change, which means the nature of higher education needs to change which requires that the nature of teaching and professorships needs to change. The immense weight of this system is simply too hefty for today and certainly tomorrow. We cannot make higher education affordable, regardless of anyone’s definition, without reducing—not just plateauing—the cost of a higher education. We don’t need an education for another four years of enhanced high school, unless, of course, it is seriously linked to a professional, like lawyering and doctoring, for instance.

Lumina is trying to tackle the problem from another angle because we can’t seem to tackle it from the cost angle. I give them credit for raising the issue of affordability, and their brief on this is required reading. But the other conversations have to continue. We have to be much more realistic about what this dialogue is about. What is it about?

Revolution, not reformation.


Ways to Boost College Students’ Creativity


There is so much that being creative can do for you, including making you happier and even healthier because you are happier. But, it can often be difficult to get creative. You need to find ways to boost your creativity. Here are some things that students can do.

Create Comics – Who doesn’t love cartoons and comic books? Creating comic strips or cartoons is a great way to unleash your creativity, and there are all kinds of tools you can use to get started. Check out Cartoons for the Classroom, a website that has loads of comic strips for students and teachers.

Write – Take a few minutes each day to write things down. Whether you keep a journal or just take notes here and there throughout the day, it is going to help you to get ideas. Later, look over the notes and see if there are any cool ideas you can work with.

Don’t be too Hard on Yourself – You are not going to always be perfect. No one is. You don’t have to expect perfection from everything you do. If you do expect constant perfection, you are going to be in for a huge letdown. Let yourself make mistakes. You may be surprised. Some of the greatest creative ideas come out of mistakes.

Get a Second Opinion – Sometimes, you need to go elsewhere for ideas. Don’t be afraid to ask others to help you with whatever you are working on. The more ideas you can get from any source, the more creative you are going to be in the long run.

Start Drawing – For example, you may want to start drawing to become more creative, and then you can turn those drawings into embroidery digitizing designs and converting them at Absolute Digitizing. You may even be able to sell the designs to make extra cash.

Enjoy Daydreaming – Let your mind wander. It is good for you. Obviously, don’t spend all of your time daydreaming. But, a few minutes here and there can really do wonders when it comes to refreshing your mind and improving your creativity.

Lie Down – Did you know that it has been proven that you can solve problems better while lying down than while in a sitting position? Maybe this is why we seem to come up with so many great ideas when we’re lying in bed at night and trying to get to sleep. The next time you are having a problem with creativity, lie down and try brainstorming in that position.

Meditate – Sometimes, you just need to take a time out and stop thinking about everything in order to really get your creative juices flowing. Try meditating. This is a great way to relax, and it will change your state of mind so you can be more creative.

Listen to Music – Music really does soothe the savage beast, and it can bring out your creativity. The type of music you listen to will affect what you are doing. For instance, if you are studying and want to boost your creativity and brain power, listen to classical music. If you want to create something really off the wall, listen to progressive or heavy metal music.

Tell a Story – Storytelling is a great form of communication, and telling stories helps to improve your creativity and imagination because you get to explore what your own experiences actually mean to you, and to others. You can create digital stories using free tools, such as Story Bird and Slidestory.

List Your Problems – Each time you run into a problem, write it down. Then, you can look at what you have written later and come up with creative solutions that you can use the next time you face similar problems.


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.

Thank you!

Colleges Need To Be Measured on Quality, Not Inputs

It’s time to demand more of American colleges. Here’s how.

Andrew P. Kelly | Forbes

For too long, we’ve judged the quality of American higher education according to Potter Stewart’s famous standard for pornography: “I know it when I see it.” Our current system evaluates colleges almost entirely on inputs — such as the academic pedigree of the students they admit — without actually measuring quality in any meaningful way. Misguided “free college” proposals wave their hands at these problems. Here’s what to do instead.

Clinton Postsecondary Plan Includes Almost Everything

By Iris Palmer, New America

Hillary Clinton’s New College Compact includes every policy idea in higher education but the kitchen sink. The plan sprawls from loan refinancing, to expanding AmeriCorps, to free community college. Some of the ideas like ensuring state investment in higher education through a federal incentive program are timely and needed. While others, like how the state and federal partnership would work don’t provide enough detail to judge their effectiveness. And some of the ideas like renewing the American Opportunity Tax Credit would continue  directing federal resources to those who need them the least.

 The Good

The Clinton plan calls for a new program that would provide an incentive to stop state disinvestment from higher education. The idea of creating a new federalism in higher education that ties the state and federal investment together is urgently needed. Only two years ago, state and local funding for higher education was at the lowest level per full-time student in 25 years. Even now, those funding levels have not recovered to where they were before the recession hit in 2008. There is no point in increasing federal financial aid if states continue to divest in higher education. This type of proposal will make it more difficult for states to cut funding without losing federal money. That in turn could be the beginning of a shift where higher education is no longer the ballast of state budgets.

The idea of creating a new federalism in higher education that ties the state and federal investment together is urgently needed.

Another good idea is simplifying income-based repayment. The proposal recommends consolidating the four IBR programs, each with different terms and conditions, into one with the same rules for everybody: 10 percent of disposable income for 20 years with the remainder forgiven. This kind of simplification would be good for borrowers.

Clinton’s plan also proposes simplifying the FAFSA. While there is no detail in this proposal, it seems like there is policy consensus emerging around FAFSA fixes that ease the burden on students and their families.

The Jury is Still Out

While the idea of a new federalism is needed and timely, the design of Clinton’s state and federal partnership raises questions. The New College Compact would create a grant program that routes funding from the federal government through states to public four-year institutions, based on the number of students in each state. In order to remain eligible for funding, states are required to maintain, and at some future point increase, investment in higher education. But the key requirement to remain eligible is that states ensure:

“that no student should graduate with debt for tuition – and limiting costs for non-tuition expenses.”

The Clinton campaign states that low-income students would use their Pell Grants to cover their non-tuition expenses, making this a first-dollar plan.Beyond that, it’s unclear how this policy would work in practice. Would the federal government come up with a definition of an affordable amount of debt for living expenses and hold states and colleges accountable for that? How would states determine what is affordable for families to pay without debt? And how would the federal government encourage states and institutions to continue enrolling the low-income students who would have the hardest time paying tuition without taking on debt?

The plan above only applies to public four-years and excludes community colleges. There is a separate section that requires states to provide tuition-free community college. The reason for adding the additional complexity of carving out particular requirements for community colleges is unclear. Perhaps it has to do with the simple marketing of ‘free’ community college to students. Or perhaps it is about expanding free K-12 education to K-14. Whatever the reason, the implication is that the Clinton team wants to provide a larger subsidy to community college students regardless of their ability to pay. This would mean that a relatively well-to-do student at a community college won’t have to pay anything, while a similar student at a four-year public institution would be required to pay the tuition they could afford without debt. There needs to be a clearer justification for why this is necessary.

The plan also includes a proposal for a new grant for private, nonprofit colleges, with small endowments, that serve a high percentage of Pell Grant students. The funds would be used to lower the cost of attendance and support improved student outcomes at these schools. The program also looks like it could have a special focus on Minority Serving Institutions. But it remains unclear whether there would be requirements that these colleges serve low-income students well. It also unclear whether there would be a limit on the prices they could charge these students. A well designed program that rewards schools who graduate, rather than just enroll, Pell students could go a long way toward improving educational opportunities for them.

The plan also calls for pushing colleges to improve graduation rates. To do this, it proposes “building on initiatives like TRIO and GEAR UP”, yet these programs focus more on college access than graduation . The new grants would go to colleges that invest in student supports like “quality child care, partnerships with early childhood providers, and emergency financial aid”. These much needed supports will be a boon for a group of vulnerable, low-income students. They also represent an important acknowledgement that the majority of students are no longer what most of us would think of as traditional. How would these types of supports work with the more academic focused completion agenda? We need more details about how this program would work, what kind of incentives it would create, and why.

On accountability, the plan proposes requiring schools to be up front on things like graduation rates, earnings, and debt while providing insight into how those metrics compare with other schools. Yet, existing data are severely limited in their capacity to meet these needs, because they do not provide data student level. Adopting a system of limited student-level data collection, as Marco Rubio has called for, is critical to providing a clearer understanding of value of different institutions and programs.  Does this mean the Clinton plan will call for a federal student unit record system so students can have access to this data in a central location through a trusted government source? To reach the goal set out in the plan of accountability and transparency, we would need to create that kind of system.

The Bad

The New College Compact promises to cut higher education loan interest rates so the government does not generate revenue, regardless of the accounting standards used. Setting aside the controversy as to whether loans actually do make money for the federal government, this proposal is expensive and doesn’t actually do that much for students. Similar interest rate cuts, such as those proposed by Elizabeth Warren, would only decrease the average monthly payment of someone facing default by about $16. Since cutting interest rates represents a third of the total cost of the proposal, this money could be better spent on other priorities.

The blueprint also extends the American Opportunity Tax Credit indefinitely. According to the College Board, about a quarter of the benefits from higher education tax credits and deductions in 2010 went to families with incomes over $100,000. AOTC is the largest of these tax credits, and has much higher income limits than other education-related tax benefits. There are more effective ways to allocate resources that support students and families who need it most.

The new Clinton plan includes most of the ideas for fixing the system floating around in higher education policy. As this campaign season continues, Clinton has set a benchmark for an inclusive blueprint. Her campaign says that affordable college will be a big focus of her run for the presidency. Hopefully, additional details on some of the bigger proposals will be forthcoming.

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