FCAN’s Research Roundup is a monthly feature highlighting reports and projects related to student access and success that we think are worth sharing. You will also be able to find a link to this page in FCAN’s monthly newsletter. Happy reading!
1. More than three-quarters (77%) of American adults believe that a college education is difficult to afford, according to research by Morning Consult. This research suggests that low-income and minority adults are more likely to perceive college as unaffordable. For example, 80% of respondents with an income of less than $50,000 indicated that affording college was somewhat or very difficult; 79% of Hispanic adults and 80% of Black adults responded similarly. This report comes on the 50th anniversary of the Pell Grant and in the midst of the #DoublePell campaign.
2. The passthrough rate is a term used to measure the extent to which a $1,000 increase in borrowing limits “passes through” to the net cost of tuition (tuition less student aid). If a $1,000 increase in borrowing limits results in a $1,000 increase in net tuition, then the passthrough rate is 1. In a 1987 New York Times op-ed, then-Secretary of Education William Bennett alleged that colleges increase tuition when borrowing limits increase. This principle became known as the Bennett hypothesis. The passthrough rate, which changes from year-to-year, is one test to determine whether the Bennett hypothesis is true in that year. (Spoiler Alert: the answer is sometimes yes, sometimes no.)
3. Fewer students are submitting their ACT or SAT test scores to colleges and universities and fewer institutions are requiring test scores, according to new data from the CommonApp. Compared to the 2019-2020 application cycle, when 80% of students submitted test scores, just 48% of students submitted their test scores through November 1. Entrance exams like the ACT and SAT are often criticized because low-income students are less likely to have access to tutoring and other resources that increase scores; research shows that test-optional policies do result in increased representation on college campuses. Additional data from the CommonApp shows that more students are applying to public than private colleges compared to the 2019-2020 application cycle, and applications to highly selective institutions are growing at faster rates than applications to any other institution (based on selectivity).