Archive for July 14th, 2011

July 14, 2011

Starting out at community college works out well for academically prepared students

by Grace

This might be good news for those who start their four-year degree program at a community college to save money.  If you’re among the 25-40% of community college students who actually make the transition to four-year colleges, your chances of degree attainment compare favorably with those students who started as freshmen there.  However, this is only true if you are similar to the rising juniors in terms of academic preparation and other characteristics.  The average community college student still lags behind in graduation rates.  Overall, these new study results are not too surprising.

… Authors Tatiana Melguizo, Gregory S. Kienzl and Mariana Alfonso present what may be good news for such students in their article, Comparing the Educational Attainment of Community College Transfer Students and Four-Year College Rising Juniors Using Propensity Score Matching Methods, which was published in theMay/June edition of The Journal of Higher Education. Using two separate statistical analyses, they found that transfer students were just as likely to succeed at four-year colleges as similar students who started at the studies four-year colleges.

The authors culled data from the National Education Longitudinal Study (NELS) on students who “graduated from high school on time, enrolled in college, and attained junior status at a four-year college either by enrolling only at a four-year college or by transferring from a community college.” The former group of rising juniors was then compared to the latter group of transfer students based on the average number of non-remedial credits they earned and their bachelor degree attainment rates.  Without controlling for any differences between the two groups, the authors found that rising juniors earned slightly more credits than transfer students and outpaced transfer students in degree attainment 73 percent to 60 percent.

Using a linear regression analysis, the authors controlled for observable, pre-existing differences between the two groups including differences in high school academic preparation, financial aid and work opportunities, county-level labor market characteristics and individual demographic characteristics. The results of the analysis showed no difference between the two groups in the average number of non-remedial credits earned and no difference in their overall rates of bachelor’s degree attainment. Similarly, a propensity score matching analysis which “allows obserservationally similar people to be compared,” revealed no differences between the outcome measures of the two groups. As such, the authors conclude that “community college transfer students earn equivalent numbers of non-remedial credits and attain baccalaureate degrees at similar rates than four-year rising juniors.” They go on to point out, however, that a relatively small percentage of community college students (25 to 40 percent) make a smooth transition to four-year institutions, and that those who failed to transfer with junior status were not taken into account in the study.

Success of Community College Transfer Students and Rising Juniors Compared

July 14, 2011

The end of subsidized Stafford loans?

by Grace

Inside High er Ed— As talks continue and the deadline approaches on increasing the federal debt limit, the federal government’s subsidy for undergraduate student loans is now on the table….

The proposal would end the subsidized Stafford loan program, in which the federal government pays the interest that accrues while students are enrolled in school….

Subsidized loans, which are awarded based on financial need, make up just under half of all Stafford loans, which are the federal government’s largest pool of student loans. Students who borrow the maximum amount of subsidized loans, $23,000, and take six years to graduate would owe $5,000 more by graduation and $9,000 after a 20-year repayment period, said Pauline Abernathy, vice president of the Institute for College Access and Success…

The elimination of the subsidy, combined with the fact that the interest rate on federal student loans is slated to double next year — to 6.8 percent — would mean that low-income college students would graduate with far more debt…

As Congress and the White House have put forward plans that slash spending in recent months, student aid programs have come in for their share of cuts, and there is widespread agreement, even among the programs’ supporters, that some kinds of changes will be necessary. The Pell Grant Program, which has become increasingly expensive, is perceived to be vulnerable not only in the talks about long-term deficits, but in more immediate deliberations over the next federal budget, for 2012….

Losing the interest subsidy is far from ideal, and could harm student borrowers, they said. But other options, such as a Pell Grant cut, would be far worse.

“Certainly it would be a blow to students,” said Justin Draeger, president of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, who said he strongly objected to the idea of shifting funds from student aid toward deficit reduction. “But it doesn’t decrease the total amount of aid available to them up front to pay for college.” A cut that could change whether students are able to pay for school at all, such as lowering the maximum Pell Grant, would have a more dramatic effect, he said.

It sounds as if any change to Stafford loans would simply add more to the amount owed upon graduation.  With all the stories of naive students taking on massive debt while failing to realize the potential negative repercussions, maybe an “up front” cut in aid would actually be a better idea.  Or, is that being too harsh?

President Obama’s reaction to cutting student loan subsidies:

 “I’m not going to do that,” Obama said. “I’m not going to take money from old people and screw students,” not without some compromise on the tax-increase side.

Found at Instapundit

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