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Think Tank Aims to Assess College Outcomes

July 19, 2017

A new report from Third Way, a centrist think tank, attempts to measure higher education's performance across sectors and types of institutions. The group used federal data on completion, students' earnings six years after enrollment and loan repayment rates. The report features aggregate figures for four-year institutions, community colleges and certificate-granting institutions, with breakouts by sector.

Findings from the report include:

  • At 85 percent of four-year institutions, at least half of students who used federal aid were able to earn more than the typical high school graduate six years after enrollment. However, at 222 four-year colleges, the majority of students earned less than high school graduates.
  • At 59 percent of community colleges, most students are earning less than $25,000 per year six years after first enrolling.
  • At roughly a quarter of four-year institutions, more than half of students fail to begin repaying their loans three years after attending college.

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Paul Fain

Paul Fain, Contributing Editor, came to Inside Higher Ed in September 2011, after a six-year stint covering leadership and finance for The Chronicle of Higher Education. Paul has also worked in higher ed P.R., with Widmeyer Communications, but couldn't stay away from reporting. A former staff writer for C-VILLE Weekly, a newspaper in Charlottesville, Va., Paul has written for The New York Times, Washington City Paper and Mother Jones. He's won a few journalism awards, including one for beat reporting from the Education Writers Association and the Dick Schaap Excellence in Sports Journalism Award. Paul got hooked on journalism while working too many hours at The Review, the student newspaper at the University of Delaware, where he earned a degree in political science in 1996. A native of Dayton, Ohio, and a long-suffering fan of the Cincinnati Bengals, Fain plays guitar in a band with more possible names than polished songs.

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