I recently had the chance to read a research report titled “With Their Whole Lives Ahead of Them,” published by Public Agenda with financial support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The authors of the report surveyed over 600 young adults between the ages of 22 and 30. The purpose of the survey was to compare the answers of students who dropped out of college to the answers of students who graduated within the three year (for community colleges) or six year (for four-year colleges) standards as measured by the U.S.
An August 11th article in The New York Times caught my attention. Written by Tamar Lewin, the article describes a policy brief released by the College Board which concludes that for the most part, recent graduates are carrying “manageable” debt loads. Using data published in the Department of Education’s National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, the policy brief notes that while the number of students using loans to pay for their post-secondary educations has increased in the last five years, the volume of students who carry overly burdensome levels of debt upon graduation remains small in comparison.
It is hard to have a day go by where there is not at least one article in the major media about the high cost of college. With the recession and its impact on state and local budgets, tuitions are being increased at many public colleges and universities and some institutions are reducing the number of students attending in order to cut costs for next year.
I have had a few weeks to think about President Obama’s Stimulus Act and its impact on higher education. During the same period of time, I have read the daily headlines covering higher education in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Education, and New Realities in Higher Education. The news is not good.