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  1. Nov 2015
    1.       President Obama has made College access and affordability for all Americans a goal of his Presidency. In the 2012 State of the Union address the President outlined several measures that he believed would make College more available to Americans. The first step was to begin to change the structural system of Federal Aid to Colleges. The administration proposed that colleges who managed to maintain a lower tuition would receive more federal aid while those colleges who fail to keep net-tuition down would have their federal aid cut. Obama claims that the program will incentivize colleges to keep tuition low and that prior systems of federal aid did nothing to encourage this. The new system would reward colleges on the criteria of low tuition, quality education, and serving low income and Pell Grant students. Obama also promised to start a Race to The Top incentive program that would reward states that would systematically change their higher education to improve completion and affordability. Further the administration offered to reward both colleges and non-profit organizations who create break through strategies in revolutionizing education and spreading and funding techniques that have proven effective. The President than called for a College Score Card that would allow families to compare college costs, estimated future earnings, and graduation rates of each college so that they can make an informed choice as two what college may be the best choice for them. Finally the administration offered increased funding to Pell Grants and maintained its commitment to keeping student loans low. The administration also toted the Pay as You Earn Program which caps yearly student loan payments at 10% of monthly income to stop student loans from pushing graduates into poverty.      

      White House (January 27, 2012). FACT SHEET: President Obama’s Blueprint for Keeping College Affordability and Within Reach for All Americans. The White House. Retrieved from https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/01/27/fact-sheet-president-obama-s-blueprint-keeping-college-affordable-and-wi.

    1. This article looks at the effects of partisan politics on state higher education budgets. The study mentioned that in comparison to other areas higher education has received much higher cuts then other areas over the last several decades. It points out that both Republican and Democrats have a tendency to support community colleges but for different reasons. Republicans view it as a more cost effective solution while Democrats view it as better at redistributing wealth. The study hypothesized however that more Democratic state legislators would ultimately result in higher education budgets. It also hypothesized that Democrats would be more supportive of higher education in legislators which were less polarized. The reasoning is that in highly polarized legislators Democrats will focus on their traditional constituencies like healthcare and welfare, and Republicans will avoid supporting anything that could be viewed as redistribution politics. Its third hypothesis is that the Democrats strength in the legislator on state funding on higher education would be moderated by economic conditions. In poor economic conditions they predicted that higher education would take cuts rather than programs that are view more essential by both parties. The study tested their hypothesis by looking at data from the states and measuring higher education budget out of every 1000 dollars income collected by the state. The data looked to confirm these hypotheses. Democratic presence in the state legislature did positively impact higher education budget but that polarization and economic conditions could lower these effects. The data suggests that Higher Education spending is an odd issue because it is actually preferred by both parties but not particularly essential to either. Thus in a highly polarized legislator or economic crisis it will be dropped as both parties focus on protecting their key issues.     
      Dar, Luciana and Dong Wook Lee. July 1, 2014. Partisanship, Political Polarization, and State Higher Education Budget Outcomes. Journal of Higher Education Vol. 85 No. 4, 469-498.
  2. Oct 2015
    1. This article focuses on Partisan differences in education policy. The article goes over several literature reviews. It finds that the public believes higher education is important to success, believes it should be available to all but that students need to put high effort in college, have concerns about college cost and has little idea of what the actual costs are. The research suggests that both Parties are concerned with keeping education affordable, but have different plans to do so. Republican politicians focus on efficiency of money spent on college, making sure that federal investment in higher education are not being wasted. Democrat politicians on the other hand pay much more attention to providing opportunity to unprivileged demographics. The study measured to see if the constituents of the parties agreed with the leaders. It found that republicans and democrats in the public did not greatly differ in their views of college efficiency, but that African Americans viewed colleges as less efficient. On the question of opportunity there was significant difference between republicans and democrats in how much opportunity there was for disadvantaged people to get in to college. Democrats perceived much more obstacles to educations than republicans, who were more optimistic about the potential for low income individuals to attain higher education. However among both parties college educated people perceived college to be more obtainable than low income individuals. The study expresses concerns that education may become politicized due to the differences in the electorate. Should the issue become seen as special interest for one party as opposed to a general concern, it will be more susceptible to gridlock and less likely to be resolved. The article notes the power of the issue of educational attainment and cites Kingdon in the possibility that if it does not make it on to the public agenda it may be ignored or discarded.

      Doyle, William R. July- August, 2007. Public Opinion, Partisan Identification, and Higher Education Policy. The Journal of Higher Education Vol. 78 No. 4: 369-401.

    1. This article looks at early commitment programs, designed to put low income kids on the college track sooner. It explained how many low income students are unaware of financial opportunities before their last year of high school. Many low income students have long since devoted their energy to non-academic activities and have not focused on preparing for college, due to the belief that they could not afford it. Their study aimed to look at the effectiveness of applying a commitment program to the Pell Grant system, promising low income students a certain amount of paid college for educational performance in school and educating student’s early on educational opportunities. They measure the persistence of poverty in students through the free and reduced lunch program, so to counter the possible criticism that students who were poor in 8th could likely leave poverty by college age. Their study indicated the persistence of poverty for most students throughout K-12 education, especially students with uneducated or minority parents. Finally the report measured the cost and benefits of the program. It full mentioned that this was based primarily on educated estimates as some of the variables such as college completion rates and actual economic benefits of those who do graduate cannot currently be known. The overall calculations suggested that the program would be net benefit and the growth in the educated work would offset the costs of the program. It further mentions that several benefits and costs were not calculated like the improved health and low incarceration rates of college graduates or the costs of additional supplemental student loans. Overall the study suggested that the program would over look very few students and could do a great deal of good in dispelling lower class pessimism about college and related apathy about high school education. This could help bridge the knowledge gap between the poor and higher incomes, at least in college access.

      Kelchen, Robert and Sara Goldrick-Rab (March 1, 2015). Accelerating College Knowledge: A Fiscal Analysis of a Targeted Early Commitment Pell Grant Program. The Journal of Higher Education Vol.86 No.2, 199-231.

    1. This Informational Packet prepared by the Executive Branch outlines the current objectives and plans for increasing educational achievement for low income students. It first outlines the moral and economic incentives to do so. College attainment gaps between high and low income has been growing over the last several decades, and this limits the ability of poor youths to obtain a better life. College attainment is also important for the economy as a whole the job market requires a greater degree of education then ever before. The paper highlights some of the current programs that the Obama administration has implemented such as increase in Pell Grants and a new pay as you earn program that doesn’t demand that students pay any more than 10% of their monthly income to student debt. Then it goes over outlining four goals for the US in terms of low income educational achievement. The first goal is to connect low income students to available colleges, and work to help them complete the college they start. It points out the critical problem of under matching, where low income students are least likely to enter school that match their ability, often going to schools that perform under that students ability. The second goal is to greater academically prepare low income students better for college while in public school. The paper suggested that technology and more personalized approach could greatly aid low income students many of whom are not adequately prepared for college. The third is to decrease inequalities in advising and test preparation. The school counselor is an important figure in connecting low income high school students to opportunities and knowledge they may otherwise not know. The final goal is to have brake though in remedial course work. Students who start in remedial classes rarely go on to complete college and the paper suggests that by bettering primary and secondary education and shifting more students out of remedial education in college this problem can be solved. The whole article focuses on each of these goals to a greater depth and would be an excellent reference point for our paper. Particularly interesting is the use of high school counselors as a factor in college attainment, as it is something that policy makers could easily alter and is less nebulous than improving K-12 education as a whole. Many other programs contained within are also worth studying.

      The Executive Office of the President (2014). Increasing College Opportunity for Low Income Students: Promising Models and a Call to Action. Retrieved on 10/17/15. Retrieved from chrome-extension://bjfhmglciegochdpefhhlphglcehbmek/content/web/viewer.html?file=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.whitehouse.gov%2Fsites%2Fdefault%2Ffiles%2Fdocs%2Fwhite_house_report_on_increasing_college_opportunity_for_low-income_students.pdf

    1. This article examines why college graduation rates are exceptionally lower than college entrance rates in low income households. While college dropout occurs in all income levels it is much higher in low income families. The paper studies whether “attrition”, the term they use to describe the process of leaving college uncompleted, is due to college cost or other factors. They looked in particular at a school in Kentucky where tuition and living expenses are almost entirely subsidized, controlling for the cost of college as a variable. The whole college could be considered relatively low income as its wealthiest attendants appeared to be from the lower middle class. Despite the lack of college cost only half of students graduate and most that leave did not indicate that they are going to transfer. Analysis of the groups shows that the higher income groups were the most likely to stay in college and the lowest the most likely to leave. The researchers also found that wealthier students had on average higher grades than poorer students. Their data suggested that this was due to better preparation in K-12, although they stated that it is possible that lower income tried less do to being uncertain if they were going to leave or not. The article proposed the possibility of “negative shocks” that a dramatic fall in income would lead to drop out. Yet its data ultimately showed no evidence of this effect. The article did not directly state any specific reason why low income students dropped out more even when college but suggested several. These included better primary and secondary education, more encouraging parents, and less need to immediately support their family. It ends with a call for more research into how aid non-cost difficulties related difficulties, so to most effectively use education budgets. Stinebrickner, Ralph and Todd R. Stinebrickner (2003). Understanding Educational Outcomes of Students from Low-Income Families: Evidence from a Liberal Arts College with a Full Tuition Subsidy Program. The Journal of Human Resources Vol. 38 No.3, 591-617.

    1. This article is a British study from the early 2000’s looking at difficulties in access to higher education among disadvantaged youths. As it is in Brittan some of the information may not apply in an American context but it should certainly help at least a general understanding of the various factors that can disadvantage some youth from pursuing education. The survey looked at 16 schools in four areas of Scotland, all schools having lower than average rates of students who entered higher education. Some of this was due to finances which caused more students to put school off in order to save up money, or not go so that they would not accrue debt. Even students that did go were more likely to not pursue their passion or best subject for fear that it may lead to unemployment and inability to pay the debt, opting instead for more practical degrees that they have no interest in. Cultural factors also played with disadvantaged students decisions. Many students either chose not to pursue higher education or chose to apply to less prestigious schools as a result of fear of being looked down upon by wealthier classmates. Others felt that their hometowns discouraged them from furthering their education. Many felt both and said being in higher education and from a disadvantaged background made them outsiders in all worlds and isolated.<br> Location was also a factor; some students simply lived very far from colleges and could not receive education without moving. Another was the ‘Highers’ a Scottish test that affected whether or not a student could gain entry to higher education. Students from a higher social class were far more likely to get an acceptable score at the ‘Highers’. The study found that many of the disadvantaged students simply dropped out as well, so getting into higher education didn’t guarantee that they would receive anything for it. The overall study suggests that the main reason why disadvantaged students have lower representation in schools in not in selection bias by the school but due to lower rates of application. The students that did go often went due to inability to find a job and focused only on financial security, unlikely to enter postgraduate education or a discipline of interest. The study concludes that financial assistance could increase disadvantaged participants and thus also decrease cultural barriers by greater familiarizing disadvantaged areas with education.

      Forsyth, Alasdair and Andy Furlong (2003). Access to Higher Education and Disadvantaged Young People. British Educational Research Journal Vol. 29 No. 2, 205-225.

    1. This study deals with the relationship between distance from university and rates of attendance, particularly in lower income families. Like my last article this article is not American. However as a Canadian study the population lives in a large country with many rural cities similar to their Southern neighbors. The study stated that moving is a factor that can have financial and emotional cost on students who have to leave their hometowns for universities. Previous studies found that students who were farer than 80 Km from Universities were 42% less likely to attend than those who lived in commuting distance. It also found that lower income students were even less likely to attend far away university than higher income students. This study focuses on colleges which have a far more rural presence than universities and are thus more available to lower income students who are less willing or able to move for education. The study looked at the behavior of three types of students, those in commuting distance of a university and college, just a college, or neither. The study showed when a college and university were both in the same area students attendance at each was roughly the same, although lower income students were more likely to opt for the college. Yet in more rural areas with only a college most students choose to stay rather than move to a university, regardless of income. If there was no college or university in the area, rates of post secondary education overall were lower, although students who did move were slightly more likely to go to university. It should be noted that the vast majority of the sample had at least a college nearby. Low income students were most likely to attend post secondary education if only a college were nearby. All income levels however were affected by commuting distance even the high income bracket. The article also addresses how this research can aid policy makers in how to best aid access for students. It suggested that focusing aid on rural colleges and student aid to its students may be more effective increasing access than focusing on the larger more urban universities. Expanding the capacities of rural colleges is the likely the best way to make post secondary education available for low income students. The study supports that access to education is more than just paying for college itself, it is also being able to get there.

      Frenette, Marc (2004). Access to College and University: Does Distance to School Matter? Canadian Public Policy/ Analyse de Politiques Vol. 30, No. 4, 427-443.

    1. This article looks at and evaluates proposals to increase access to education based upon the best available research as well as the estimations of the authors. The authors ranked objectives relating to higher education in their current status, as well as ranking it in terms of needed improvement rate. The six objectives rated were developing educated workforce, increase college affordability, increase number of high performing high performing high schools, increase K-12 learning, increase college learning, and help at risk students. They then prioritized the objectives by which objectives they believed to be the most underdeveloped. Interestingly the author’s conclusion was that increasing funding for student aid was actually the least pressing issue. The most important were helping at risk youth succeed in college and improving K-12 education. The authors stated that more financial aid would not be effective until at risk students could not only go to college but also be effective there. After evaluating objectives the authors evaluated a series of broad solution and what their relationships were with the 6 objectives earlier mentioned. The categories of reform were improving Pell, improve financial aid, intervene early, and improve institutions. Once again, the financial outcomes seemed to be much less influential than the options focusing on improving quality of education and ability of low income students. This was partly due to the fact that since financial solutions corresponded with the financial objectives which were given the lowest priority weight. The final chart looked at actual policies that could be implemented in the educational system in the categories of K-12 Student policies, Postsecondary Student Policies, Postsecondary Financial Aid Policies, K-12 Institution Policies, and Post-Secondary Polices. The highest rated solution in terms weight given by the authors formula were providing academic coaching for the at-risk in elementary, academic coaching for at risk in high school and train high school teachers how to monitor and analyze student learning. The article emphasizes at the end that higher education cannot be seen as separate from K-12 in terms of policy. Many students lack to skills to succeed in college and getting a low income student into college only for them to drop out cannot be considered a success.

      Stapen, Jacob O, and W. Lee Hansen (1999). Improving Higher Education Access and Persistence: New Directions from a "Systems" Perspective. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis Vol.21 No. 4, 417-426.