Public Trust, Financial Aid and Evolving Best Practices Top Higher Ed News

Public Trust, Financial Aid and Evolving Best Practices Top Higher Ed News

The news never stops, and higher education is making its share of headlines. Here are some of the stories we’ve been watching at Digital Measures.

IRS/FAFSA Connection Offline

Security concerns forced the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to suspend the data-retrieval tool used by students as part of the financial aid application process. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that the tool became unavailable last week with no explanation. On March 9, the Department of Education and IRS said the tool would remain unavailable for weeks due to security concerns. Students can still complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) using information from their tax returns, but this close to the filing deadline, the glitch could prevent some students from completing applications on time.

NYT Praises “Working Class” Colleges

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Leonhardt gave us all something to celebrate in a column for the New York Times on America’s traditional working-class colleges. Leonhardt acknowledges that many institutions are struggling to help low-income students in a time of budget challenges. But he shined the spotlight on the success of institutions including Baruch College, California State University at Bakersfield, City College of New York, Stony Brook University and the University of Texas, El Paso who continue to “push many Americans into the middle class and beyond.”

AACU Meeting Focuses on Public Trust

At its recent annual meeting, the Association of American Colleges and Universities focused on building public trust in an era of skepticism and calls for accountability, reports Inside Higher Ed. Experts including 2016 User Group keynote speaker Jeff Selingo, author of There Is Life After College: What Parents and Students Should Know About Navigating School to Prepare for the Jobs of Tomorrow, spoke on the need to focus on transparency, promote the value of liberal arts skills like fact finding and critical thinking in addition to skills valued in the 21st-century workplace, and overcome the growing challenge of inequality to serve all students.

Evolving Best Practices

The University of Kentucky plans a substantial shift to a heavily need-based financial aid model to drastically boost retention, reports Inside Higher Ed. It’s a data-driven decision to retain students who might otherwise leave because of unmet financial need that university leaders believe to be more in keeping with its mission as a land-grant institution. Writing for Inside Higher Ed, Virginia Coombs advises universities to link academic program review to strategic planning to ensure they align. And the Chronicle of Higher Education uses Wake Forest’s new urban campus as an example informing strategic decisions with good data.

We chose these highlights because they’re newsworthy—then realized that all of the universities mentioned here are also Digital Measures clients. It’s a privilege to work with so many forward-thinking institutions.

Finally, it’s March Madness—good luck to our clients in the tournament!

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