Students and families are increasingly concerned about the value of college – the return graduates derive from higher education expenses like ever-rising tuition bills. Too many are leaving college underemployed, unsatisfied and uncertain their investment in higher education was worth it.
Colleges and states are under mounting pressure to improve student outcomes; several states have implemented higher education funding formulas tied to student success, and the federal government has issued a College Scorecard for consumers. Meanwhile, employers continue to express disappointment in the job-readiness of recent college graduates.
A focus on College Value can address these concerns by equipping students, institutions, policymakers and higher education leaders with data and tools that illuminate critical links and opportunities between student goals and pathways, institutional offerings and workforce needs.
For policymakers, understanding and promoting College Value is imperative for equipping citizens with valuable job skills and securing the economic future of their states. For employers, reinforcing College Value means ensuring the job-readiness of recent graduates. And for institutions under mounting pressure to improve student outcomes, high College Value could lead to higher enrollment numbers and increased funding.
USA Funds’ College Value platform provides grants to projects across five focus areas – return on investment, well-being, supply/demand analysis, quality assurance and performance-based funding – that measure the value of postsecondary education and training programs in innovative and important ways:
A project unlike any other, USA Funds is aligning the interests of disparate organizations to develop multiple models aimed at helping students and their families, policymakers, and postsecondary institutions make more-informed decisions about the training and skills that will provide the greatest value to students and their communities.
Indiana Commission for Higher Education–Teresa Lubbers and Carol D’Amico point to Indiana as an exemplar for college value. According to the Indiana College Value Index, Indiana surpasses other states in areas including “on-time and extended-time college completion as well as graduate satisfaction and well-being.”