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Ranking of Questions in Higher Education Research

A view of the campus of Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut, on August 11, 2016.

Ned Gerald / Hearst Connecticut Media

A July 29 editorial, “The Close CT Wealth Gap Starts in the Classroom,” authored by the Hearst Connecticut Media Board, provided a good commentary on Connecticut’s need to close the equity gap in higher education. State policymakers need to do more to address these gaps and use data on student outcomes to inform their decision-making, but to guide their approach I question the validity of the ranking of the report cited by the board from the DC think tank Third Way.

Connecticut is allocated only 3% of state higher education funding allocated for need-based financial assistance in 2020, compared to Massachusetts’ 6%, New York’s 15%, and Vermont both. and lags behind all other states in the region (and much of the country). New Jersey allocates 21% of higher education funding to need-needed assistance. Funding for the State Needs-Based Grants Program was temporarily increased with U.S. Relief Plans Act funding in FY2022 and FY23, but these increases will be maintained in the next two years of the budget and will be fully funded. Universities should be made more affordable and accessible to underserved student populations.

Members of the Connecticut Independent College Council, including Sacred Heart College, Mitchell College, and New Haven College, have invested heavily in making college affordable over the past decade. $1.24 billion from 2010 to 2020 (latest data available). Thus, average grants received by students at CCIC schools increased by almost 90% from $15,271 in 2009 to $28,899 in 2021, and Pell grant enrollment at these institutions increased by 80%. At the same time, the average federal grant increased only slightly ($557), while the average state grant decreased from he $4,060 to he $3,543. Additionally, the overall general budget allocation for state financial aid to Connecticut students has decreased by almost 60%.

Investing in state-needs-based grants is critical to ensuring that Connecticut students have affordable access to educational institutions that are results-focused and must include completion rates. This is omitted in the third way report. As a sector, members of the Connecticut Independent College Council, including Sacred Heart College, Mitchell College, and the University of New Haven, have strong results with Pell-qualified students, with completion rates 10 percentage points higher than the national average. . sector. In contrast, his one of the “standout” institutions that Thirdway lists has a completion rate well below the national average.

In addition to the significant investments Connecticut’s private, non-profit universities have already made in supporting Pell-qualified students, our recommitment to the state’s financial aid programs will help all public and private institutions Helps enroll more low-income students in Connecticut and produce stronger outcomes. Help fill the equity gap that exists in higher education.

Jen Widness is president of the Connecticut Conference of Independent Colleges.