Education

{image_title}

Education has long been central to America's vision of opportunity for all and remains key to both individual achievement and to national economic strength. Evidence indicates the American education system is not performing up to potential — high school graduation rates peaked at around 80 percent in the late 1960s and have since declined by 4 to 5 percentage points. Future increases in productivity in today’s knowledge-driven, global economy require that American workers continually advance their skills. The Hamilton Project explores innovative proposals to increase the effectiveness of the educational system and to boost the skills of all Americans.


Related to Education

{image_title}

The Hamilton Project Policy Response to the 2014 State of the Union Address

Papers • January 2014

In his 2014 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama spoke of a “breakthrough year for America” and foreshadowed a “year of action.” He focused on ways to expand opportunities for Americans by enhancing employment and education options for low-and middle-income citizens, developing more robust worker training programs, investing in America through infrastructure investments and energy innovation, the importance of making progress on immigration reform, and more. Since its launch in 2006, The Hamilton Project has released a range of targeted policy proposals that provide innovative, evidence-based approaches to addressing many of the policy priorities set forth in the Presidents address.

{image_title}

Hamilton Project Work on Higher Education: Policy Proposals to Promote Access and Affordability

Papers • January 2014

On January 16, President Obama hosted college and university presidents from around the country for a summit to discuss new approaches for promoting college access, with a focus on reaching low-income students. The Hamilton Project has produced significant work highlighting the importance of higher education for economic mobility, in addition to a series of papers by outside experts on improving college access and affordability. A menu of Hamilton Project work on this topic is included for easy reference.

{image_title}

Simplifying Estimates of College Costs

Papers • October 2013 • Phillip Levine

The lack of clear information about the widening gap in perceived and actual costs of college can act as an impediment in students' decision-making process. In his new Hamilton Project proposal, Phillip Levine proposes a way to simplify and improve the transparency of college cost estimates based on a pilot program currently underway at Wellesley College. 

{image_title}

Loans for Educational Opportunity: Making Borrowing Work for Today’s Students

Papers • October 2013 • Susan M. Dynarski, Daniel Kreisman

The current federal student lending system requires students to repay loans during the first decade after college, when their incomes are relatively low and variable. In a new Hamilton Project paper, the University of Michigan's Susan Dynarski and Daniel Kreisman propose a strategy to improve student lending through the adoption of an income-contingent repayment plan.

{image_title}

Redesigning the Pell Grant Program for the Twenty-First Century

Papers • October 2013 • Judith Scott-Clayton, Sandy Baum

The structure of the Pell Grant program has remained fundamentally unchanged since its inception in 1972. In a new Hamilton Project paper, Sandy Baum of the Urban Institute and The George Washington University and Judith Scott-Clayton of Columbia University propose three major structural reforms to fit the needs of a twenty-first-century economy and student population.

{image_title}

Improving College Outcomes: Key Findings

Papers • October 2013

On October 21st, The Hamilton Project hosted a forum focusing on the evolving role of higher education in American society and released three new policy proposals by outside experts on how changes in student lending and financial-aid policies can help improve college outcomes. Key findings from each of the papers are outlined here.

{image_title}

Higher Education Today: Innovative Approaches for College Financing

Papers • October 2013 • Melissa S. Kearney, Benjamin H. Harris

For many Americans, the high cost of higher education provides a substantial barrier to college entry and ultimate completion. In this economic analysis, The Hamilton Project provides a snapshot of today’s higher education student, illustrating how the current generation of students are older and more financially independent than in the past, and highlights three forthcoming Hamilton Project papers that address the complicated landscape of higher education financing through innovative policy proposals.

{image_title}

Rising Student Debt Burdens: Factors Behind the Phenomenon

Papers • July 2013 • Michael Greenstone, Adam Looney

Despite the positive return to higher education, many Americans are concerned about their ability to pay for college, and there is increasing focus on the rising burden of student loans on recent graduates. Although average net tuition—the actual cost to students after grant aid, scholarships, and other financial aid—has increased somewhat over the last two decades, the volume of student debt has increased far more dramatically, as has the default rate on student loans. In this month’s employment analysis, The Hamilton Project examines possible explanations for the recent increases in student debt and default rates.

{image_title}

Informing Students about Their College Options: A Proposal for Broadening the Expanding College Opportunities Project

Papers • June 2013 • Caroline M. Hoxby, Sarah Turner

In a new discussion paper for The Hamilton Project, Caroline Hoxby of Stanford University and Sarah Turner of the University of Virginia present a strategy for improving college outcomes for high-achieving, low-income students.  Building on previous research showing that most high-achieving, low-income students do not even apply to selective colleges, Hoxby and Turner propose expanding a recently piloted informational intervention called the Expanding College Opportunities (ECO) Project.

{image_title}

Thirteen Economic Facts about Social Mobility and the Role of Education

Papers • June 2013 • Michael Greenstone, Adam Looney

In a new policy memo, The Hamilton Project examines the relationship between growing income inequality and social mobility in America. The memo explores the growing gap in educational opportunities and outcomes for students based on family income and the great potential of education to increase upward mobility for all Americans.

charts Icon

Highest Educational Attainment of Family Head, by Income Relative to the Federal Poverty Level (FPL)

December 19, 2013 • Charts

College attainment differs markedly by poverty status. 33 percent of household family heads below 100 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) attended at least some college, although just 6 percent of those family heads have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Among household family heads with income between 100 and 250 percent of the FPL, 48 percent have attended some college, and 14 percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher. In stark contrast to those living at or below 250 percent of the FPL, 77 percent of household family heads above 250 percent of the FPL attended at least some college, and about half have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Only a very small share of this group (4 percent) did not earn a high school diploma.

charts Icon

Comprehensive Costs, Net Costs, and Instructional Expenditures per Student

July 18, 2013 • Charts

Surprisingly, the most competitive colleges cost the least for low-income students while providing the most instructional expenditure per student.  The most competitive colleges spend over $25,000 on instructional expenditure for each student yet the average low- income family pays less than $8,000 out of pocket for these schools.  At the least selective four year colleges, low-income families pay over $15,000 out of pocket yet their students receive only around $5000 in instructional expenditure.  

charts Icon

Application Behavior of High-Achieving Students

July 18, 2013 • Charts

Although they have similar test scores and aptitudes, high- and low- income, high achieving students have strikingly different college application behaviors.  In this figure, panel A shows that high-achieving, high-income students tend to apply to colleges and universities where their test scores closely match the test scores of typical students at those institutions.  Panel B shows that high-achieving, low-income students mostly apply to institutions that are less selective.  Only a small fraction of high-achieving, low-income students apply to schools where their achievement is similar to that of their fellow student.  

charts Icon

Returns to Education Compared to Other Investments

July 18, 2013 • Charts

Despite rising tuition costs and increased student debt burden, the rate of return of investing in a college education is still much higher than other conventional investments.   The average rates of return of receiving an associate’s, bachelor’s, or professional degree are all over nine percentage points higher than the average returns from investing in stocks.  Surprisingly, the return to attending some college and dropping out before graduating is 9.1 percent, higher than the return to investing in stocks, gold, 10-Year Treasury bonds, T-Bills, and the housing market.  

charts Icon

Income Quintile of Adults Born into Lowest-Quintile Families by College Attainment

July 18, 2013 • Charts

The earnings of college graduates are much higher than for nongraduates, and that is especially true among people born into low-income families. As the figure shows, without a college degree a child born into a family in the lowest quintile has a 45 percent change of remaining in that quintile as an adult and only a 5 percent chance of moving into the highest quintile. On the other hand, children born into the lowest quintile who do earn a college degree have only a 16 percent chance of remaining in the lowest quintile and a 19 percent chance of breaking into the top quintile. 

charts Icon

Socioeconomic Distribution at Colleges by Selectivity

July 18, 2013 • Charts

The gap between high- and low-income groups in college outcomes extends beyond college graduation rates. This figure demonstrates that the most-competitive colleges are attended almost entirely by students from higher-socioeconomic status households. Indeed, the more competitive the institution, the greater the percentage of the student body that comes from the top quartile, and the smaller the percentage from the bottom quartile. In fact, at institutions with the most selective admissions standards, the wealthiest students out-populate the poorest students by a margin of fourteen to one. By contrast, students of the lowest-socioeconomic status are over-represented at institutions ranked as less-competitive and non-competitive. 

charts Icon

Enrichment Expenditures on Children

July 18, 2013 • Charts

One significant consequence of growing income inequality is that, by historical standards, high-income households are spending much more on their children’s education than low-income households. This figure shows enrichment expenditures—SAT prep, private tutors, computers, music lessons, and the like—by income level. Over the past four decades, families at the top of the income ladder have increased spending in these areas dramatically, from just over $3,500 to nearly $9,000 per child per year (in constant 2008 dollars). By comparison, those at the bottom of the income distribution have increased their spending since the early 1970s from less than $850 to about $1,300. The difference is still stark: high-income families have gone from spending slightly more than four times as much as low-income families to nearly seven times more.

charts Icon

Probability of Children’s Income Level, Given Parents’ Income Level

July 18, 2013 • Charts

 

While social mobility and economic opportunity are important aspects of the American ethos, the data suggest they are more myth than reality. In fact, a child’s family income plays a dominant role in determining his or her future income, and those who start out poor are likely to remain poor. This figure shows the chances that a child’s future earnings will place him in the lowest the or the highest quintile depending on where his parents fell in the distribution (from left to right on the figure, the lowest, middle, and highest quintiles). In a completely mobile society, all children would have the same likelihood of ending up in any part of the income distribution; in this case, all bars in the figure would be at 20 percent, denoted by the bold line. The figure demonstrates that children of well-off families are disproportionately likely to stay well off and children of poor families are very likely to remain poor.

charts Icon

The Relationship Between Income Inequality and Social Mobility

July 18, 2013 • Charts

 

Many are concerned that rising income inequality will lead to declining social mobility. This figure, recently coined “The Great Gatsby Curve,” takes data from several countries at a single point in time to show the relationship between inequality and immobility. Inequality is measured using Gini coefficients, a common metric that economists use to determine how much of a nation’s income is concentrated among the wealthy; social mobility is measured using intergenerational earnings elasticity, an indicator of how much children’s future earnings depend on the earnings of their parents. Although, as the figure shows, higher levels of inequality are positively correlated with reductions in social mobility, we do not know whether inequality causes reductions in mobility. After all, there are many important factors that vary between countries that might explain this relationship. Nonetheless, this figure represents a provocative observation with potentially important policy ramifications.

charts Icon

College Completion

January 15, 2013 • Charts

College education has historically driven increases in labor productivity, which in turn lead to wage growth. This same trend has emerged during the last 40 years. As women’s college-graduation rates jumped over 20 percentage points since 1970 , female workers’ wages increased by similarly high rates. Men’s college-graduation rates, on the other hand, have been relatively flat over this period, and male workers have thus experienced no wage growth in recent decades.

{image_title}

Testimony of Melissa S. Kearney

January 16, 2014 • Melissa S. Kearney

The Hamilton Project Director, Melissa S. Kearney testifies before the Joint Economic Committee on income inequality in the United States.

{image_title}

Testimony of Dr. Susan Dynarski

May 1, 2008 • Susan M. Dynarski

Hamilton Project expert Susan Dynarski testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on designing effective tax incentives for post secondary education.

{image_title}

Improving College Outcomes: A Modern Approach to Financing Higher Education

October 21, 2013 • Washington, DC

On October 21st, THP hosted a forum and release three new policy proposals by outside experts focusing on the evolving role of higher education, and how changes in student lending and financial aid policies can help improve college outcomes. Thought leaders in higher education from around the country—including Vassar College President Catharine Bond Hill; LaGuardia Community College President Gail Mellow; University of North Carolina President Thomas Ross; Wesleyan University President Michael Roth; and Brookings’ Brown Center for Education Policy Director Grover “Russ” Whitehurst—joined the discussion to comment on the proposals, and provided their thoughts on the future of higher education in American society.

{image_title}

The Economic Imperative of Expanding College Opportunity

June 26, 2013 • Washington, DC

On June 26th, The Hamilton Project at Brookings hosted a forum on the importance of expanding college opportunity for more Americans. Harvard College’s William Fitzsimmons and The Brookings Institution’s Grover J. “Russ” Whitehurst were among the distinguished experts joining a roundtable discussion focusing on a proposal for targeting and reaching low-income, high-achieving students by Caroline Hoxby of Stanford University and Sarah Turner of the University of Virginia. In a second panel discussion, higher education leaders—including  The College Board’s David Coleman and Syracuse University’s Nancy Cantor—focused more broadly on the role of higher education in American mobility.

{image_title}

Back to School:  Promoting Attainment and Achievement in K-12 Education

September 27, 2012 • Washington, DC

On September 27th, The Hamilton Project at Brookings hosted a forum to discuss new approaches to promoting attainment and achievement in K-12 education.  The event included featured remarks by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, highlighting recent progress on education reform, the difficult work still ahead, and the need for innovation to help advance reform efforts. 

{image_title}

Promoting K-12 Education to Advance Student Achievement

September 27, 2011 • Washington, DC

On September 27, The Hamilton Project at Brookings held a forum to highlight new policy ideas and perspectives on how to improve student performance in K-12 education.  The program concluded with a discussion on the path forward in education reform with Teach for America Founder and CEO Wendy Kopp and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, moderated by David Leonhardt, D.C. bureau chief of the New York Times.

{image_title}

The Future of American Jobs, Part II

December 3, 2010 • Washington, DC

The Hamilton Project and the Center for American Progress hosted the second of two conferences addressing the long-term challenges of creating quality jobs in the United States and preparing American workers for those jobs of the future. As part of the event, The Hamilton Project and the Center for American Progress released three targeted policy proposals by outside scholars to deal with the long-term challenges associated with the new global economy.

{image_title}

The Future of American Jobs

April 30, 2010 • Washington, DC

The Hamilton Project partnered with the Center for American Progress to host a forum on the country’s employment situation. The event featured a discussion with New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and NEC director Lawrence H. Summers, moderated by PBS host Charlie Rose.

{image_title}

The Role of Education in Promoting Opportunity and Economic Growth

March 29, 2007 • Washington, DC

The Hamilton Project held a panel discussion that featured recent strategy and discussion papers on ways to promote opportunity and growth through our nation's education system. The Project is examining the full spectrum of early childhood, K-12, and higher education.

{image_title}

Restoring America’s Promise of Opportunity, Prosperity, and Growth

April 5, 2006 • Washington, DC

President Obama gave the keynote speech at a policy briefing surrounding the launch of The Hamilton Project.  The event featured two policy roundtables and the release of the first three Hamilton Project discussion papers.

video Icon

The Wireless Spectrum and the Future of Technology Innovation - Keynote Remarks

March 24, 2014 • Video

On March 24th, The Hamilton Project hosted a forum and released a new policy proposal addressing key challenges with the allocation and regulation of wireless spectrum during a time of rapid change and increasing demand. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Thomas Wheeler delivered keynote remarks. He was introduced by Roger C. Altman.

charts Icon

Highest Educational Attainment of Family Head, by Income Relative to the Federal Poverty Level (FPL)

December 19, 2013 • Charts

College attainment differs markedly by poverty status. 33 percent of household family heads below 100 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) attended at least some college, although just 6 percent of those family heads have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Among household family heads with income between 100 and 250 percent of the FPL, 48 percent have attended some college, and 14 percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher. In stark contrast to those living at or below 250 percent of the FPL, 77 percent of household family heads above 250 percent of the FPL attended at least some college, and about half have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Only a very small share of this group (4 percent) did not earn a high school diploma.

video Icon

Improving College Outcomes: A Modern Approach to Financing Higher Education—Introduction and Panel 1

October 21, 2013 • Video

Following welcoming remarks by Evercore Founder and Chairman Roger Altman, Vassar College's Catharine Bond Hill, Wellesley College's Phillip Levine, Laguardia Community College's Gail Mellow, Urban Institute's Sandy Baum, and Columbia University's Judith Scott-Clayton joined a roundtable discussion moderated by The Hamilton Project's Melissa Kearney on restructuring our approach to financial aid. 

video Icon

Improving College Outcomes: A Modern Approach to Financing Higher Education—Panel 2

October 21, 2013 • Video

University of Michigan's Susan Dynarski, Princeton University's Greg Kaplan, Vassar College's Catharine Bond Hill, and the Brookings Institution's Grover "Russ" Whitehurst joined a panel discussion moderated by MIT's Michael Greenstone on making borrowing work for today’s students through income-contingent repayment.

video Icon

Improving College Outcomes: A Modern Approach to Financing Higher Education—Panel 3

October 21, 2013 • Video

Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin moderated a panel discussion on the role of education with University of Texas Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa, Wesleyan University President Michael Roth, and University of North Carolina President Thomas Ross at The Hamilton Project's recent event, "Improving College Outcomes: A Modern Approach to Financing Higher Education."

audio Icon

Improving College Outcomes: A Modern Approach to Financing Higher Education—Introduction and Panel 1

October 21, 2013 • Audio

Following welcoming remarks by Evercore Founder and Chairman Roger Altman, Vassar College's Catharine Bond Hill, Wellesley College's Phillip Levine, Laguardia Community College's Gail Mellow, Urban Institute's Sandy Baum, and Columbia University's Judith Scott-Clayton joined a roundtable discussion moderated by The Hamilton Project's Melissa Kearney on restructuring our approach to financial aid. 

audio Icon

Improving College Outcomes: A Modern Approach to Financing Higher Education—Panel 2

October 21, 2013 • Audio

University of Michigan's Susan Dynarski, Princeton University's Greg Kaplan, Vassar College's Catharine Bond Hill, and the Brookings Institution's Grover "Russ" Whitehurst joined a panel discussion moderated by MIT's Michael Greenstone on making borrowing work for today’s students through income-contingent repayment.

audio Icon

Improving College Outcomes: A Modern Approach to Financing Higher Education—Panel 3

October 21, 2013 • Audio

Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin moderated a panel discussion on the role of education with University of Texas Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa, Wesleyan University President Michael Roth, and University of North Carolina President Thomas Ross.

photo_galleries Icon

Improving College Outcomes: A Modern Approach to Financing Higher Education—Photo Gallery

October 21, 2013 • Photo Galleries

On October 21st The Hamilton Project hosted a forum focusing on the evolving role of higher education in American society and release three new policy proposals by outside experts on how changes in student lending and financial-aid policies can help improve college outcomes.Thought leaders in higher education from around the country joined the discussion, including Vassar College President Catharine Bond Hill; University of Texas ChancellorFrancisco G. Cigarroa; LaGuardia Community College President Gail Mellow; University of North Carolina President Thomas Ross; Wesleyan University President Michael Roth; and Brookings’ Brown Center on Education Policy Director Grover "Russ" Whitehurst.  

charts Icon

Comprehensive Costs, Net Costs, and Instructional Expenditures per Student

July 18, 2013 • Charts

Surprisingly, the most competitive colleges cost the least for low-income students while providing the most instructional expenditure per student.  The most competitive colleges spend over $25,000 on instructional expenditure for each student yet the average low- income family pays less than $8,000 out of pocket for these schools.  At the least selective four year colleges, low-income families pay over $15,000 out of pocket yet their students receive only around $5000 in instructional expenditure.  

Hamilton Project Updates

A periodic newsletter of events, policy briefs, and working papers from The Hamilton Project.