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A Blog from New America's Federal Education Budget Project

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Latest Higher Education Data Now Available from Federal Education Budget Project

Published:  January 31, 2013

The Federal Education Budget Project (FEBP) today announced new higher education data available on its website from the 2011 year.  The data are available for more than 7,500 institutions of higher education, as well as every state across the country, and include college prices, financial aid, demographics, and outcomes data.

We also added a new data point: graduate student enrollment at institutions of higher education for 2009 through 2011. As graduate school – with its students’ substantial debt burdens – continues to inch its way into the higher education debate, a greater understanding of graduate students’ particular circumstances will be increasingly critical. FEBP’s data on graduate student enrollment and Grad PLUS loan disbursements at the institutional and state levels can play a critical role in that.

The data provide a five-year snapshot of each institution, and allow users to examine many facets of the school’s costs and performance. For an example, we looked at Morehouse College. Our colleague Rachel Fishman wrote about the school on Higher Ed Watch last fall. Morehouse is a historically black, all-male college. And as Fishman pointed out, the data in FEBP tell a story of a school with a Parent PLUS problem.

Enrollment at Morehouse was just under 2,500 students last year, and 55 percent of students received federal aid – but even more, 76 percent, took out federal loans. Parent PLUS loans at the school totaled $21.7 million last year, more than $8 million more than parents took out only five years ago (accounting both for the now-defunct FFEL program and the new Direct Loan program). Given the high interest rate and substantial fees associated with the Parent PLUS program, Fishman argues that they make a bad strategy for affording the school. As we can see by examining the school in FEBP, its total price has increased by more than $10,000 over five years to more than $43,000 per year in 2011 – apparently supported largely by Parent PLUS loans.

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The data also give a picture of some broader national trends. Here at Ed Money Watch, we’ve written frequently about the skyrocketing costs of the Pell Grant program since funding for the program nearly doubled in 2009. All those additional federal dollars are being distributed to students across the country, so the Pell Grant disbursements by state have increased dramatically in recent years. California postsecondary students, for example, received about $1.6 billion in 2007. Just five years later, the state received nearly $3.9 billion in Pell Grants, a 140 percent increase in federal Pell Grant dollars.

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Click here to check out the data for yourself. How has your alma mater fared over the last several years? What about your home state?

The data are also downloadable as an open data file here.

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