Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Proposal for Reforming Student Loan Repayment

Last week I released, through the Hamilton Project of the Brookings Institution, a proposal for reforming the repayment of student loans. This news item from my school's website sums up the event and press coverage:

On October 21, The Hamilton Project hosted a forum on the evolving role of higher education in American society.  At the forum, Susan Dynarski presented a paper titled "Loans for Educational Opportunity: Making Borrowing Work for Today's Students," which served as the focus of a roundtable discussion. The paper was co-authored by Education Policy Initiative postdoctoral research fellow Daniel Kreisman.

Dynarski and Kreisman propose a single, income-based loan repayment system that automatically deducts payments from borrowers' paychecks to replace the current array of repayment options. Dynarski emphasized that the U.S. currently has "not a debt crisis, but a repayment crisis," stating: 

"We have a repayment crisis because student loans are due when borrowers have the least capacity to pay. It often takes years for college graduates to settle into a steady, high-paying job that reflects the value of their education."

Dynarski and Kreisman's proposal was one of three papers released by The Hamilton Project suggesting major changes to the financial aid system. Their work received coverage in The New York Times, The Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Education.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Postdoc Position in Education Research at Univ of Michigan

We are looking for a great postdoc to work on our team here at University of Michigan. We have a tremendous set of resources for a recently-minted social scientist (econ, sociology, poli sci, education, psych...) who wants to broaden and deepen skills in experiments, quasi-experimental analysis, and working with state and district partners in evaluation.


Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Missing Manual: Using National Student Clearinghouse Data to Track Postsecondary Outcomes

I have a new paper with two great colleagues, Steve Hemelt (former Michigan post-doc, now a prof at UNC-Chapel Hill) and Josh Hyman (current post-doc, newly-minted PhD in economics and public policy from Michigan). The three of us have worked extensively with data from  the National Student Clearinghouse, and in this paper we share insights and advice about this relatively new data rource.

"This paper explores the promises and pitfalls of using National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) data to measure a variety of postsecondary outcomes. We first describe the history of the NSC, the basic structure of its data, and recent research interest in using NSC data. Second, using information from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), we calculate enrollment coverage rates for NSC data over time, by state, institution type, and demographic student subgroups. We find that coverage is highest among public institutions and lowest (but growing) among for-profit colleges. Across students, enrollment coverage is lower for minorities but similar for males and females. We also explore two potentially less salient sources of non-coverage: suppressed student records due to privacy laws and matching errors due to typographic inaccuracies in student names. To illustrate how this collection of measurement errors may affect estimates of the levels and gaps in postsecondary attendance and persistence, we perform several case-study analyses using administrative transcript data from Michigan public colleges. We close with a discussion of practical issues for program evaluators using NSC data."

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Government Jobs and "Miserly" Pay

This article lacks perspective on what low-wage workers earn in the US:
"And while pay for senior civil servants can be generous, other salaries can be equally miserly. Wages can vary depending on the location, but in Philadelphia, jobs at salary level GS-2 — a post that typically goes to someone with a high school diploma and no experience — pay as little as $24,379 annually."
 My quick tabulation of the March 2012 Current Population Survey (I have it on DropBox, if you are stymied by the BLS blackout!) shows that, among full-time workers in their early twenties with only a high school degree, median earnings are $18,000 and the 75th percentile is $28,000. Government work has always been a safe haven for those with low skills, and $25,000 a year does not look miserly for those competing for jobs in this particular market. A G-2 is a great job for someone with no experience and little education.