“What is college worth?” With education costs, student debt and income inequality all rising, it is an increasingly urgent question. And in 2019, we set out to try to answer it.
The reality is that today, the opportunity to achieve an education after high school is not equal: a white adult is twice as likely as a Hispanic adult to have at least an associate’s degree. And a high-income student is five times more likely than a low-income student to have a bachelor’s degree by age 24.
We are already working with colleges and universities, and the organizations that support them, to close those opportunity gaps. But we believe more needs to be done to dig into the question of whether and how colleges and universities create value for students, especially low-income students, first generation students, and students of color. So earlier this year, we and our partners at the Institute for Higher Education Policy launched the Postsecondary Value Commission.
The commission has an ambitious charge: Define and measure the value of education after high school, and equip students, families, college and university leaders, and policymakers with that information to promote change that increases the returns of postsecondary education.
Representing a range of perspectives, from institutional leaders and researchers to policymakers and current students, the commission began by looking at existing research, considering how to measure and balance economic and non-economic returns of education after high school, and started to flesh out a framework for measuring value.
Director, Postsecondary Success, United States Program