Welcome to FCAN’s new Research Roundup! This monthly feature seeks to highlight 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. The college attainment field received some shocking news this month when new NSCRC data came out showing that the average full-time college student does not take enough credits to complete a bachelor’s degree within five years. This means the average student is completing fewer than 22 credits their first year, and only earns 9 credits for every 12 they sign up for. Further, Black males tend to earn about three credits less than their White, female, or Asian peers in their first year. 

2. Lightcast released a report on adult learners showing that returning to college has a high return on investment: adults who return to higher education enjoy a 140% increase in annual salary compared to those who do not return, and have 22% greater chance of upward mobility. The report also outlines some fields and demographic groups that may enjoy the larger mobility opportunities. For example, women and Hispanic workers see the largest increase after returning to school. 

3. 1 in 4 students do not know when the FAFSA starts, and another 1 in 4 believe FAFSA is just for students from low-income households, according to a national study from Sallie Mae. These numbers, and other findings from the report, may have implications for work across the college access field, as Florida has seen FAFSA submission rates decrease over the last several years. FAFSA also remains confusing: nearly 1 in 5 said they did not complete the FAFSA because it was too complicated.

4. The National Association of Financial Aid Administrators (NAFAA) released its annual Student Aid Profile in August, with many details on federal student aid programs inside. Some notable findings include that Florida had the third most Pell Grant recipients by state from 2019-20, with an average award of about $4,250. Florida also had the sixth most federal work-study recipients that same year. 

5. Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) shared slides from a recent webinar on supporting special immigrant status college students. The slides contain a trove of information, including financial aid resources and tips for noncitizens with asylum, undocumented students, and DACA students.

6. Baby Boomers are nearly nine times wealthier than millennials. That is according to a new Census Bureau report of 2019 data on household wealth and economic well-being. The report, which includes tables that outline disparities across other age groups, also offers another proof point for higher education and higher household wealth. 

7. A Jobs for the Future (JFF) survey of both employers and Gen Z students found there is a disconnect between college pathways and what employers want. While the majority of employers want to hire from non-degree pathways, they still continue to hire from degree programs to avoid any risk, and as a result, most Gen Z students default to degree programs for fear of choosing the wrong path. And overall, both employers and students agree that they need more information about non-degree pathways.

8. We know that Florida will need to replace 1.2 million retiring specialized workers in the next 10 years, so new data from high school guidance assessments offer a concerning picture. We have an interest and exposure gap among high school students. For example, many students show the aptitude for health sciences, advanced manufacturing, and STEM careers, but do not have a lot of interest. And students who are good at math can only identify a couple potential job options among the thousands that exist, suggesting schools need to work to continue to showcase career opportunities, and make education more relevant with career-connected learning.


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