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Data Collection Efforts at Postsecondary Institutions

(October 2018)

Watson Scott Swail and Maly Fung-Angarita

This paper identifies and describes current and recent efforts at the institutional, state, regional, and national levels to collect individual student data for tracking progress in postsecondary education in order to provide comprehensive information on promising and usable efforts to collect data. This effort was conducted by the Educational Policy Institute in collaboration with the AAAS Center for Advancing Science & Engineering Capacity with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.


Reading Enhancement for Advancing Development (READ) Bangladesh: A Cost-Effectiveness Analysis

(September 2018)

Christine Harris-Van Keuren, Brooks Bowden, and Watson Scott Swail

This report provides a summary of the cost-effectiveness analysis conducted by the Educational Policy Institute (EPI) of the Reading Enhancement for Advancing Development (READ) in Bangladesh for the USAID. The study involved three primary objectives: to identify the relative effectiveness of READ’s intervention taking cost into account; to build up the capacity of READ staff on Cost-Effectiveness Analysis (CEA); and to set a standard and methodology for future work on CEAs.


Stop Making Sense: A collection of thoughts and other random musings on education

(January 2, 2018)

Watson Scott Swail

In Stop Making Sense, Dr. Watson Scott Swail provides his take on a variety of policy and practical issues in education writ large, especially on issues involved educational equity, the cost of going to college, and the returns on a college educated for our nation and our graduates. Stop Making Sense provides essays taken from The Swail Letter on Education between 2011 and 2014. As a policy analyst and former teacher and President of the Educational Policy Institute, Swail provides a perspective that is at times raw but always interesting.

Chapter titles include “The Financial Woes of Higher Education,” “Robert Reich and College Affordability,” and “The ROI on Higher Education.” Swail also takes on the NCAA in “The NCAA: Missing the Point of a Higher Education” and rails against the idea of free tuition in “College for Free? Not Really…”

Book and eBook available at and Apple iBooks. Visit Dr. Swail's author page at

The State of Academic Customer Service on U.S. Campuses

(February 2, 2017)

Neal A. Raisman

In 2016, Dr. Neal Raisman conducted a web-based survey of customer service professionals at U.S. colleges and universities. This Policy Perspective provides a summary and discussion on the findings of the survey, pointing out that academic customer service could be improved to increase the retention and persistence of students in higher education.


OCED Supporting Teacher Professionalism: Insights from TALIS 2013

(February 12, 2016)

Christine Harris-Van Keuren

Supporting Teacher Professionalism was written, in part, by the Educational Policy Institute's Senior Research Scientist, Dr. Christine Harris-Van Keuren. The report is based on data from the 2013 Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) results and examines how countries around the world focus on pre-service and in-service professional development to prepare and support teachers as they face changing demographics amongst their students and rigorous expectations for student success in today’s economy. The report focuses on teachers’ knowledge, autonomy in decisionmaking, and engagement in peer networks as hallmarks of teacher professionalism. The findings highlight the value of teacher collaboration, mentoring, and pre-service education programs.


POLICY PERSPECTIVES: Itemized Charges & Student Aid: Enhancing the Capacity of States to Understand Affordability for All Students

(February 24, 2016)

Lee Holcombe


This Policy Perspectives report by EPI Senior Research Associate Lee Holcombe discusses the challenge of supporting public policy via available data and statistics. While states have been establishing ambitious higher education participation and success targets against the backdrop of increasing costs to students, their parents, and state budgets, national databases lack the necessary breadth, depth, and timeliness in order to support states in their efforts to meet their higher education goals. This report discusses the challenges for states and what to look for in order to effectively create the data necessary to support public policy.


Educated Thoughts: Perspectives from one of America's Leading Educators

(June 2015)

Watson Scott Swail

Educated Thoughts is a collection of short essays from Dr. Watson Scott Swail written for his The Swail Letter on Education for the Educational Policy Institute. The discussion of current issues in education include college preparation, affordability, and other political issues that impact the quality and equity fo education in the US and beyond.

Book and eBook available at and iBooks. Visit Dr. Swail's author page at


Implementing EFA Strategy No. 9: The Evolution of the Status of the Teaching Profession (2000-2015) and the Impact on the Quality of Education in Developing Countries: Three Case Studies

(April 14, 2015)

Christine Harris-Van Keuren


The UNESCO Global Monitoring Report is the result of research prepared by researchers and institutes around the world. The Educational Policy Institute was selected to contribute to the GMR 2015. For more information about the global release of the GMR 2015 and events in your area, please refer to the GMR 2015 website (


POLICY PERSPECTIVES: Facing Global Challenges: A European University Perspective

(August 2014)

Watson Scott Swail

This Policy Perspectives features the keynote address of EPI's Dr. Watson Scott Swail at the 2009 European University Association Convention in Prague, Czech Republic, which focused on the university as an “inclusive and responsive institution.”


POLICY PERSPECTIVES: Finding Superman & Global Competiveness

(August 2014)

Watson Scott Swail & Arthur Levine

On March 21 2013, the Educational Policy Institute held the first day of the EPI Forum on Education & the Economy in Orlando, Florida. The session transcribed here featured two of the authors of the Teachers College Press publication, Finding Superman: Debating the Future of Public Schools in America (2012). Dr. Watson Scott Swail, President & CEO of the Educational Policy Institute, served as editor of the book and wrote the introductory chapter, Finding Superman. Dr. Arthur Levine, President of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, wrote a chapter titled “The Potential Impact of Waiting for “Superman” on Schooling in America.”
The Forum provided an opportunity to talk about their respective chapters and engage in an interesting conversation about education and international competition. Dr. Swail served as moderator of the session. The video of this session can be found on the Educational Policy Institute’s YouTube channel.


A Different Viewpoint on Student Retention

(June 2014)

Watson Scott Swail

The June 2014 journal of Higher Learning Research Communications Journal includes a special invited article written by Educational Policy Institute president Dr. Watson Scott Swail. The article, A Different Viewpoint on Student Retention, discusses the barriers in today’s environment from student persistence and graduation and the focus areas for institutions in combating these issues. However, from a policy point of view, our society must decide who will pay for continued broad access to higher education and how we achieve our collective goals. The Higher Learning Research Communications Journal is an international, open access online journal to advance universal knowledge on teaching and learning in higher education.


POLICY PERSPECTIVES: The Cost of College Attrition at Four-Year Colleges & Universities

(February 2013)

Neal Raisman

The report, authored by Dr. Neal Raisman, an expert on student retention and persistence in higher education, is a first-time study of the relationship of attrition to revenues lost in four-year public, private, and for-profit colleges and universities on an annual basis. The report is the result of a study investigating the financial impact of attrition on four-year colleges and universities. The study is based on data collected from colleges and universities directly, through IPEDS, the Educational Trust, college and university websites and reporting, as well as the College Board “Annual Survey of Colleges 2010.” The report calculated the average six-year graduation and attrition rates of 1669 private, public and for-profit four-year colleges and universities then applied predicative formulas to determine the amount of revenue lost by the schools due to attrition for the 2010-2011 academic years. And as this study shows, the loss of revenue from attrition for schools is significant and hurtful to the financial well-being of colleges and universities. The financial and personal losses to the students are equally significant.


Finding Superman: Debating the Future of Public Education in America

In Finding Superman, some of the most prominent educational thinkers of our time examine the pressing issues of educational equity and excellence brought to light in Davis Guggenheim's popular documentary, Waiting for Superman. The film's portrayal of urban public schools as uniform failures and charter schools as the only viable alternative for our nation's youth demands a closer look. Across the chapters of this important book, the contributors reveal the film's untold stories. These include the many public schools that are doing an excellent job of educating students, as well as the many charter schools that are doing no better than most public schools, despite their monetary advantages.

With chapters from educational luminaries that include Milton Chen, Linda Darling-Hammond, Dan Domenech, Ben Levin, Arthur Levine, Ann Lieberman, John Merrow, Diane Ravitch, Peter Smith, and Watson Scott Swail, Finding Superman demands a new perspective from readers on a topic of urgent importance to all of us. Achieving excellent schools for all children is not an easy task. As these authors remind us, it requires a more balanced dialogue and a fuller range of evidence to realize truly lasting change.


A Blueprint for Success

(April 2012)

Watson Scott Swail, Kate Quinn, Kimberly Landis, and Maly Fung

"Blueprint" is a companion document to the TG-funded "2012 Directory of Pre-College Outreach Programs," published in March 2012 by EPI. This document is a collection of 10 case studies of successful pre-college outreach programs around the US, providing an inside and detailed view at how they operate and what makes them successful.


2012 Directory of Pre-College Outreach Programs

(March 2012)

Watson Scott Swail, Kate Quinn, Kimberly Landis, and Maly Fung

This directory includes information on 374 programs from around the United States that serve low-income, students of color, and other students who are historically underrepresented in postsecondary education. Includes highlights from the study and an essay by Dr. Watson Scott Swail.


In Search of a Better Mousetrap: A Look at Higher Education Ranking Systems

(Spring 2011)

Watson Scott Swail

This article, appearing in AACRAO's College & University journal, focuses on the limitations of college ranking systems and suggests new directions to more accurately measure the quality of colleges and universities.


EPI Center (EPI's new bi-monthly data essay on K-12 education issues)

(April 2011)

This first edition of EPI's bi-monthly data essay on K-12 education issues provides a statistical portrait of the landscape of Public Education through the years.



Student Success

(Winter 2011)

This edition of Student Success features an interview with Neal E. Boyd, America's Got Talent 2008 winner and keynote speaker at Retention 2011 in San Diego, CA in June 2011, an EPI student success story, and the presentation of EPI-DAS, EPI's New Data Analysis System.



Swail Letter

(March 2011)

March's Swail Letter focuses on the growth of postsecondary education in the United States, from both an institutional and enrollment perspective.Plenty of data and research to back up some interesting findings.



Student Success

(December 2010)

This edition of Student Success features an interview with Senator Jim Webb. EPI President & CEO, Dr. Watson Scott Swail, makes a recap of EPI's Retention 2010 International Conference on Student Success, held in Chicago last June. In this issue, Dr. Swail also presents EPI-DAS, EPI's new Data Analysis System.



EPI Book Club - TRANSCRIPT - Diane Ravitch

(November 2010)

On October 21, EPI Book Club welcomed Diane Ravitch to discuss her book, The Death and Life of the Great American School. Read the transcript by clicking on the title or graphic. To listen to the conversation, click here.



Swail Letter

(May 2010)

May's Swail Letter features a report on trends in international student enrollment. Plenty of data and research to back up some interesting findings. Plus, Dr. Swail's comments and analysis on the current international student enrollment figures.



Student Success

(April 2010)


This edition of Student Success features an interview with the President of the University of Maryland, Freeman Hrabowski. EPI President & CEO, Dr. Watson Scott Swail, comments on EPI's recent move to Washington D.C. Preview coverage of the 2010 National Capitol Summit is paired with a recap of the 2009 summit. This issue also features the 2009 Student Retention Awards.



Graduating At-Risk Students: A Cross-Sector Analysis

(February 2010)

Watson Scott Swail


This report, conducted for the Imagine America Foundation, uses data from the US Department of Education’s Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study (BPS) Survey and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) to compare and contrast completion and persistence rates of students attending proprietary (career colleges) institutions versus other institutional sectors. Copies of the publication are available for purchase from IAF at


The Post-Secondary Student Support Program: An
Examination of Alternative Delivery Mechanisms

(November 2009)

Alex Usher

This report was researched and written by the Educational Policy Institute for the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC).  EPI was contracted by INAC to examine the department's Post-Secondary Student Support Program (PSSSP) and analyse the advantages and disadvantages of both the existing system of program delivery and a trio of alternative delivery mechanisms. This report does not issue any recommendation with respect to a preferred model of program delivery; rather, it attempts to lay out the challenges involved with different mechanisms in a consistent and fair manner, and allow readers to draw their own conclusions with respect to the feasibility and desirability of each option.


Leveling the Playing Field for All Schools, Including Career Colleges, from Career Education Review

(August 2009)

Watson Scott Swail, Nancy Broff, and Jenny Faubert

This article from the Career Education Review (August 2009) previews a future Imagine America Foundation report which outlines the outcomes of career college students versus students at other institution sectors and types. In summary, the research—done by the Educational Policy Institute shows that career colleges do a good job of helping students persist and attain a degree, especially viewed in light of the risks or challenges presented by their students.


Making Decisions about Teacher Professional Development: Practices in 8 Alabama School Districts

(October 2009)

Patricia Moore Shaffer & Watson Scott Swail

This report was researched and written by the Educational Policy Institute for Southeast Regional Education Lab (SERVE). The SERVE Center contracted the Educational Policy Institute to describe the evidential bases for administrators’ decisions about professional development as reported by a small sample of small and medium-sized school districts in the State of Alabama. The work was collaboratively designed by SERVE, EPI, and the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) to improve understanding of current decision-making practices.



(October 2009)

Watson Scott Swail, Sarah Jaeschke, and Chris Rasmussen


This report by the Educational Policy Institute and the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC) provides an analysis of the 2008 Measuring Up report with specific emphasis on the midwestern member states of the MHEC. Funding for this report was provided by the National Center for Public Policy in Higher Education.


The Changing Academic Profession – An International Survey

(September 2009)

Ian Dobson


The (CAP) survey was conducted in 25 countries and was the largest and most extensive survey of academic staff yet undertaken. It sought to assess the characteristics of academic staff and their work. The survey deployed a common instrument, population definition and sampling approach. Survey data have been compiled by Germany’s University of Kassel and a number of indicators defined. These include relative academic salaries; job satisfaction; propensity for job change; opportunity for research; contract conditions; and workload. The research briefing that compares national responses can be down-loaded HERE.


UNESCO: Ten Years Back and Ten Years Forward:
Developments and Trends in Higher Education in Europe Region

(May 2009)

Alex Usher

This paper by Alex Usher was presented at the UNESCO Forum on Higher Education in the Europe Region: Access, Values, Quality and Competitiveness, on May 22, 2009 in Bucharest, Romania. The paper focuses on recent developments in European higher education with a lens as to what the near future holds.


Student Success

(April 2009)


This edition of Student Success features and interview with the “invincible” Vince Papale and a special commentary by EPI President & CEO, Dr. Watson Scott Swail, on his visit with Liz McCartney of the St. Bernard Project - a non-profit organization that is working to rebuild the ninth ward in New Orleans. Both Vince Papale and Liz McCartney will be keynote speakers at our upcoming RETENTION 2009 conference in New Orleans this May. Also featured in this edition of Student Success is an essay by Dr. Kristen Betts on Online Education and Student Success.


On the Brink: How the Recession of 2009 Will Affect Post-Secondary Education

(February 2009)

Alex Usher and Ryan Dunn

In the midst of a global recession, post-secondary education (PSE) in Canada is about to face significant challenges. This report outlines the likely main impacts of the recession on the Canadian PSE sector, namely rising costs, more students, and declining revenue. In addition to discussing the predicament the system will find itself in over both the short and long-term, the report suggests a series of measures that governments can take to help institutions survive the worst of the crisis.


Beyond the Sticker Shock 2008: A Closer Look at Canadian Tuition Fees

(October 2008)

EPI Canada

This publication is an updated version of EPI's 2006 publication "Beyond the Sticker Price", which tracks changes over time in the net cost of tuition, taking into account inflation and various forms of tax credits.  The study finds that taking these factors into account, average tuition across Canada was no higher in 2007-08 than it was in 1999-2000.


2008 Canadian Federal Election: Party Platform Analysis

(October 2008)

EPI Canada

This publication provides an analysis on pertinent education issues from the perspective of the political parties vying for the electorate in this year's federal election on October 16 2008.


Investing for the Future: Post-Secondary Issues and the Canadian Federal Election

(September 2008)

EPI Canada

This publication provides data on crtiical education issues related to the Canadian Federal Election on October 16 2008.


Producing Indicators of Institutional Quality in Ontario Universities and
Colleges: Options for Producing, Managing and Displaying Comparative Data

(July 2008)

EPI Canada

This paper was produced for the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario to sketch out how an expanded system of quality indicators could be created. The paper looks at the kinds of data demanded by different stakeholder groups, the kinds of data that might go into a system of quality indicators, its current availability, and the kinds of changes in data collection and reporting that would be required in order to make these indicators truly comparable. Finally, the paper concludes with an outline of key decisions with respect to choosing a data production and management model recommendations for the data architecture.


Student Mobility & Credit Transfer: A National and Global Survey

(June 2008)

Sean Junor and Alex Usher

This publication takes a look at the expanding issue of student mobility from a Canadian and international perspective. The first half of the paper centers on student mobility and what it means to the post-secondary system. The second half of the paper examines how post-secondary education credits act as a form of knowledge “currency” and how the issue of credit recognition is best seen as a policy issue which requires the “exchange” of one institution’s credits into a currency that other institutions can freely accept.


Engaging Faculty and Staff: An Imperative for Fostering Retention, Advising, and Smart Borrowing

(February 2008)

Watson Scott Swail with Rebecca Mullen, Hyniea Gardner, and Jeremy Reed

This joint publication of TG and EPI provides an overview of the student departure/retention process, focusing on evidenced-based practices in engaging faculty and staff, strategies for student advising, and information on early warning systems. The purpose of the publication is to provide a hands-on resource for college and university stakeholders in the field.


Commentary 2007

(February 2008)

Watson Scott Swail & Alex Usher


Commentary 2007 is a compendium of weekly commentaries written by EPI President W. Scott Swail and Vice President and Director of EPI Canada Alex Usher for EPI's Week in Review, emailed out to subscribers every Friday. The commentaries are classified into five categories: Academic Preparation, Postsecondary Education Policy, Financial Aid, International Policy and Practice, Institutional Quality, and Miscellaneous.


The No Child Left Behind Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Act: A Progress Report

(January 2008)

Watson Scott Swail (EPI) & Betsy Brand (AYPF)


This report by the National Council on Disability (NCD) documents trends in academic achievement of students with disabilities and also the successes and barriers achieved by states,school districts, and other stakeholders as a result of the implementation of No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) and the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The report was researched and written by the Educational Policy Institute and the American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF). To read the press release, click here. Print copies may be obtained from NCD by faxing requests to Stacey Brown at 202-272-2022 or by e-mail(


clearandpresentdangerA Clear and Present Danger to Institutional and Student Success: A Training Model for Embedding Student Loan Default Aversion within Strategic Enrollment Management

(January 2008)


TG and the Council for the Management of Educational Finance have issued a second edition of A Clear and Present Danger to Institutional and Student Success: A training model for embedding student loan default aversion within strategic enrollment management.” The training model is offered as a guide to help schools support academic and financial success among students through early and sustained intervention and education; to encourage entire campus participation and support in promoting wise borrowing decisions by students; and to help institutions develop systemic default aversion efforts within strategic enrollment management. To read the press release, click here.


decision2008POLICY PERSPECTIVES: Decision 2008

(December 2007)

Watson Scott Swail, Ronald C. Willis, & Rebecca M. Mullen


This report provides an analysis of the 16 presidential candidates with a focus on educational issues.


missouripathwaysMissouri Students and the Pathways to College

(November 2007)

Watson Scott Swail & Sarah Hosford

This report presents analysis of a series of over 30 focus groups conducted in Missouri as part of a large-scale initiative by an anonymous Missouri organization. The focus groups included 7th, 9th, and 11th-grade students and concerns their attitudes toward college and the future.


semA Practical Guide to Strategic Enrollment Management Planning in Higher Education

(November 2007)

R.B. Wilkinson, James Taylor, Ange Peterson, and Maria de Lourdes Machado-Taylor

This guidebook provides a multi-step process for enrollment managers to follow in order to facilitate strategic enrollment management planning in all types of postsecondary educational institutions. It draws heavily from the practical experiences of the authors, the literature base on strategic planning as well as actual institutional strategic planning experiences


studentsuccessnov07Student Success

(November 2007)


This edition of Student Success features an interview with John Gardner, a feature story by the University of Toronto's Peter Dietsche, a book review of Three Cups of Tea, and a report from the field on the National Capitol Summit on Latino Students and Educational Opportunity.


ITedbubbleThe IT Education Bubble: An Analysis of University Students Statistics 2002-2005

(October 2007)

Ian Dobson

Conducted with the support of The Australian Council of Deans of Science, this publication looks at who is studying information technology in Australia, where they are studying it, and how they are studying IT, using data from the Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST).



An Annotated Bibliography of Latino Educational Research

(October 2007)

Paul Baumann, Alberto Cabrera, and Watson Scott Swail

This publication lists 59 recent research studies on a variety of Latino educational issues. The bibliography was compiled in partnership with the College of Education, Univeristy of Maryland, College Park.


commentary06Commentary 2006

(September 2007)

Watson Scott Swail & Alex Usher


Each week, the Educational Policy Institute releases The Week in Review, a newsy review of educational issues. In addition, EPI's President and Vice President offer a commentary on timely issues. This publication includes the commentaries from 2006.


miningMining Labour Market Transition Project - Final Report

(September 2007)

EPI Canada


The Mining Industry Human Resources Council (MiHR) contracted the Educational Policy Institute to examine labour market transition options, documented key stakeholder talent management strategies dealing with individuals from declining industries and identified transition opportunities for the mining industry. The report is part of the Council’s overall workforce strategy to increase workforce management awareness in the mining sector.


needbasedaidThe End of Need-Based Student Financial Aid in Canada?

(August 2007)

Sean Junor and Alex Usher

This report provides an outline of changes in the Canadian student financial assistance system over the past 15 years. Commissioned by the Canadian Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (CASFAA), The End of Need-Based Student Financial Aid in Canada? examines the most recent net tuition prices, explores recent student aid policy decisions in each jurisdiction, identifies what target groups (if any) are identified to receive aid and catalogues what students actually benefit.


sustainingscienceSustaining Science: University Science in the Twenty-First Century

(August 2007)

Ian Dobson


This report by EPI's Australian Director Ian Dobson provides an analysis and commentary on trends in Australian university enrolments in science based on the latest available statistics. The focus of this study is the period 2002 to 2005, the years during which the Australian Department of Education, Science & Training (DEST) current methodologies for counting students and classifying courses and subjects have been in force. This report was written for the The Australian Council of Deans of Science (ACDS), which has been concerned about aspects of the trends shown by science enrolments for at least the past decade.


policyperspectivesPOLICY PERSPECTIVES: After Michigan, What? Next Steps for Affirmative Action

(February 2007)

John Brooks Slaughter

This edition of Policy Perspectives features commentary from Dr. John Brooks Slaughter, the president of the National Action Council on Minorities in Engineering (NACME), and former Director of the National Science Foundation. Dr. Slaughter looks takes a historical look at affirmative action and posits what may be to come.


studentsuccess07Student Success

(February 2007)


This edition of Student Success features an interview with Stedman Graham about his efforts to help students succeed in life. As well, EPI President Watson Scott Swail discusses Campus Climate and Students of Color, and our Best Practice showcases the 2006 Annual Student Retention Award Winner, University of Connecticut.


applestoapplesApples-to-Apples: Towards a Pan-Canadian Common University Data Set

(November 2006)

Sean Junor, Miram Kramer, Alex Usher

This document outlines the difficulties in obtaining common, comparable data about Canadian Universities and provides a possible template for the creation of a Canadian Common Data Set.


studentsuccess06Part III Of Our Three Part Series: The Buy-In Challenge

(September 2006)

Dr. Watson Scott Swail


This is the third of three parts in our Institutional Strategies Series. The first article in our March issue outlined the barriers to student retention, both from the extant literature and also from interviews and surveys we’ve conducted through our workshops around the US and Canada. The second part focused on programs and strategies that appear to either help OR hinder student retention on campus. In this issue we will discuss the inherent difficulties in getting buy-in on our campuses—all campuses—from faculty, staff, administration, and yes, students.


stickerpriceBeyond the Sticker Price - A Closer Look at Canadian Tuition Fees
(August 2006)

Alex Usher


The Educational Policy Institute today released a report entitled Beyond the Sticker Price, which looks at what Canadian families actually pay for university education after various inflation and various subsidies are taken into account. The surprising conclusion? Average net tuition across Canada is no higher now than it was seven years ago. The study also revealed that students receiving grants – that is, poorer students – had not benefited to the same extent because the average value of grants were decreasing. In fact, while wealthier students without grants saw their tuition drop slightly, poorer students with grants have seen a $500 tuition increase in recent years.


grantsGrants for Students: What They Are, How They Work

(August 2006)

Alex Usher


In this sweeping review of work on financial assistance and access to education, Alex Usher argues that grants are required to entice low-income students into post-secondary education because a variety of factors, both real and perceived, lead them to underestimate its true long-term financial benefits. While this analysis provides strong analytical support for targeted grants to low-income students, it also strongly suggests that students from higher-income families, who are better-prepared for post-secondary education, are far less price-sensitive and consequently in much less need of non-repayable aid such as tax credits.


timebombStudent Aid Time-Bomb

(July 2006)

Sean Junor and Alex Usher


A recent report by the Educational Policy Institute suggests that rising interest rates and planned aid reductions are about to cause an $800-million financial hole in the country’s student financial aid programs. It also outlines the possibility that the Government of Canada may abandon the field of student financial assistance as part of a general program of “rebalancing”. While this may or may not be a good thing for students, the report stresses that who delivers aid is ultimately of less importance than how much aid is delivered, and urges policymakers to remain focused on fixing the programs’ collective $800-million hole rather than be distracted by federal-provincial issues.


canadainnovationInnovation and Differentiation in Canada's Post-secondary Institutions

(June 2006)

Robert Crocker and Alex Usher


In this report published by Canadian Policy Research Networks, Robert Crocker of Atlantic Evaluation and Research Consultants, and Alex Usher of the Educational Policy Institute, argue that provincial and federal governments must take steps to encourage research and innovation in teaching and learning if Canada is to maintain its human capital edge over rapidly emerging international competitors. The full report is available from CPRN's website here.


studentsuccess06Part II: Institutional Strategies
Strategies to Increase Student Success

(May 2006)

Watson Scott Swail, Ed.D

This is the second of three parts in our Institutional Strategies Series. The first article in our March issue outlined the barriers to student retention, both from the extant literature and also from interviews and surveys we’ve conducted through our workshops around the US and Canada. This edition’s discussion focuses on programs and strategies that appear to either help OR hinder student retention on campus. In our June issue we will discuss the inherent difficulties in getting buy-in on our campuses—all campuses—from faculty, staff, administration, and yes, students.


49thparallelBeyond the 49th Parallel
The Affordability of Public University Education

(March 2006)
Kim Steele and Alex Usher


A follow-up to Dr. Watson Scott Swail’s 2004 report on the affordability of University education in Canada and the United States, this study updates the data by two years, includes data on loan remission and tax credits, and, crucially, ranks all fifty states and ten provinces using six different measures of affordability as well as a composite, overall affordability ranking. Top spot in the affordability rankings goes to New Hampshire; the bottom spot to Nova Scotia.


catrendsA Report from Ed Fund
California Trends in Student Aid: 1994-95 to 2003-04

(March 2006)

Watson Scott Swail, Ed.D

The California Student Aid Commission and EdFund released the report California Trends in Student Aid: 1994-95 to 2003-04. The report, written by the Educational Policy Institute, documents all available student financial aid and the relative cost of attending postsecondary education to students in the Golden State.


studentsuccessmar06Student Success Part I.
Institutional Strategies. A New Three-Part Series

(March 2006)
Watson Scott Swail, Ed.D.


Over the course of the next issues of “Student Success,” we will explore three questions about retention on our college campuses. Part I will look at the barriers to student retention, both from the extant literature, but also from interviews and surveys we’ve conducted through our workshops around the US and Canada. Part II will focus on programs and strategies that appear to either help OR hinder student retention on campus. Ultimately, we all want answers. This discussion will provide some core issues for understanding what matters. Finally, Part III will discuss the inherent difficulties in getting buy-in on our campuses—all campuses—from faculty, staff, administration, and yes, students.


worlddifferenceWorld of Difference: A Global Survey of University League Tables.
(February 2006)
Alex Usher and Massimo Savino


A major report on international higher education, A World of Difference: A Global Comparison of University League Tables, shows that while many countries have tried to emulate US News and World Report’s attempt to rank universities, the lack of agreement about what constitutes “quality” in higher education has led to a multiplicity of different – and perhaps conflicting – standards in league tables.


studentsuccessjan06Seven Guiding Questions for Student Retention

(January 2006)

Watson Scott Swail, Ed.D.

Keeping students in school seems harder than it should be. Today’s students appear to be less prepared, have more emotional baggage, and have a different set of expectations than prior cohorts. It’s arguable whether any or all of this is true, but for the average campus professional, it seems so.


australia supportStudent Support in Australia: When Will the Government Improve It?
(December 2005)

Ian R. Dobson


In June 2005, the Australian Senate Education, Workplace Relations, and Education References Committee released “Student Income Support,” a report that reviewed the issue of costs associated with attending higher education in Australia. In this EPI report, Dr. Ian Dobson discusses the 15 recommendations on how government can help students pay for higher education.


globaldebtpatternsGLOBAL DEBT PATTERNS: An International Comparison of Student Loan Burdens and Repayment Condition

(September 2005)
Alex Usher

This report compares student loan repayment conditions and debt management programs in eight countries. Global Debt Patterns: an International Comparison of Student Loan Burdens and Repayment Conditions focuses on the debt burdens that students face and the strategies employed in each country to deal withstudent debt. To read the press release, click here.


kippFocus on Results: An Academic Impact Analysis of the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) (August 2005)
Adriane Williams & Watson Scott Swail

This report was conducted for the KIPP Foundation to provide an independent audit of their school-level data. Preliminary findings suggest that KIPP charter schools are doing significantly better than average in academic achievement in reading, language, and mathematics on norm-referenced tests. To read the press release, click here.


reframing student loan debateReframing the Student Loan Costing Debate

(July 2005)
Fred Galloway & Hoke Wilson

This report suggests that the competition between the two US federal student loan programs, the Federal Family Educational Loan (FFEL) Program and the Direct Student Loan (DSL) Program, saves federal taxpayer millions of dollars each year.
Written by University of San Diego professor Fred Galloway and Macro International researcher Hoke Wilson, the report provides a history of the federal loan system and an analysis of the financial impact of the FFEL and DSL programs.


dangerousknowledgeA Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing

(July 2005)
Alex Usher

This report finds that children from lower-income families may not be attending university because of serious misperceptions about the cost and value of post-secondary education.

“Survey data shows that people from low-income backgrounds, on average, think that the costs of university outweigh the benefits,” said the report’s author and EPI Vice-President Alex Usher. “Based on this, it is no surprise that we see such low participation rates among poorer youth – they are simply making rational decisions on the basis of bad information.”


aaasEducation and Human Resources in the FY2006 Budget
(June 2005)
Watson Scott Swail, Daryl Chubin, Shirley Malcom, and Kathryn Grogan


EPI was contracted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to write a chapter on the 2006 federal budget and its implications for science and education. This chapter provides an overview of the President's budget.


nclbThe No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and
the Pathways to College Network Framework: Mutually Supportive Visions and Complementary Goals

(June 2005)
Watson Scott Swail & Adriane Williams

This brief, prepared for the Pacific Resources for Education and Learning (PREL) and the Pathways to College Network, describe how NCLB and the Pathways Framework can be partnered when developing and evaluating comprehensive programs for schools interested in preparing children not just for the next grade, but for the next steps in their educational careers. The paper lays out the conditions under which the Pathways Framework can be most effective and how those conditions
relate to NCLB.


pdfimg POLICY PERSPECTIVES: No Merit in these Scholarships (June 2005)

Fay Vincent

This first edition of EPI's Policy Perspectives was written by Mr. Fay Vincent, a former Major League Baseball Commissioner and University Trustee. Mr. Vincent, a Yale law graduate and a former trustee at Williams College, Carleton College, and Fairfield University, takes a look at the escalating issue of increased merit-based aid in lieu of aid to deserving students from low-income families. "To my mind, merit-based aid betrays the original goal of helping worthy but disadvantaged students," says Vincent."It spends donors' money in a way they may not intend, and it invests college resources in short-term promotional advantage instead of lasting improvements of substance."


pdfimg Is More Better? The Impact of Postsecondary Education on the Economic and Social Well-Being of American Society (May 2005)

Adriane Williams & Watson Scott Swail

This report, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, looks at the economic and non-economic impacts of higher education on individuals and society as a whole. According to the report, college graduates receive higher wages, are more likely to be employed, and when unemployed, likely to find new jobs faster. As well, graduates receive social returns to education, including increased life expectancy and better general health, improved quality of life for self and offspring and increased social status. The report concludes that higher education can best serve the nation by targeting low-income and other historically-underrepresented groups.


pdfimg Global Higher Education Rankings 2005 (April 2005)

Alex Usher & Amy Cervenan

The Global Higher Education Rankings 2005 represents the first systematic and rigorous exploration of the affordability and accessibility of higher education within an international comparative context. The rankings gather available, comparable data on student costs, resources, and opportunities in terms of higher education.


Latino Students Latino Students & the Educational Pipeline (April 2005)

Watson Scott Swail, Alberto F. Cabrera, Chul Lee, and Adriane Williams

This report series documents the progress of Latino students from eighth grade to the workforce. Supported by a grant from Lumina Foundation for Education, EPI analyzed data from the U.S. Department of Education's National Educational Longitudinal Study (NELS), which first surveyed eighth-grade students in 1988 with followup surveys in 1990, 1992, 1994, and a final followup survey in 2000, eight years after scheduled high school graduation.

Part I of the study looks at the 1988 8th-grade class and what happened to them by 2000.

Part II compares BA recipients with high school graduates.

And Part III focuses on a multiple regression analysis of the major factors which impede the road to a bachelor's degree for Latino students.


pdfimg Measuring the Quality of Post-Secondary Education: Concepts, Current Practices and a Strategic Plan (April 2005)

Ross Finnie & Alex Usher

In this report published by Canadian Policy Research Networks (CPRN) authors Finnie and Usher assess current practice in Canada and abroad, review the range of factors affecting PSE quality and outcomes, and propose a conceptual framework for improving quality measurement. The conceptual framework captures the PSE experience as a story of inputs and outputs, within a narrative of beginning characteristics, learning inputs, learning outputs, and final outcomes.


pdfimg The Role of Counseling in Increasing Academic Opportunity in Missouri (March 2005)

Watson Scott Swail

This report, written for the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority (MOHELA), presents findings from a review of counseling literature and interviews conducted by EPI of high school counselors in Missouri.



pdfimg Much Ado About a Very Small Idea (January 2005)

Alex Usher

This study challenges conventional wisdom on income-contingent repayment of student loans (ICRs) by suggesting that the Canada Student Loans Program (CSLP) already has most of the elements of income-contingency the country could ever want or need and that wholesale revisions to the program are probably unnecessary.


pdfimg The Affordability of University Education (December 2004)

Watson Scott Swail

The Affordability of University Education looks at the relative affordability of public university education in the United States and Canada. Prepared under contract to the Montreal-based Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation, the report compares all 50 US states and 10 Canadian provinces on postsecondary access, student financial aid, tuition and fee charges, and overall net cost of attendance for the years 1999-01. (572KB).


pdfimg Value Added: The Costs and Benefits of College Preparatory Programs (November 2004)

Watson Scott Swail

This report considers issues related to the complex proposition that the cost of early intervention program delivery is directly and positively tied to the ability of programs to successfully enable students to get into college. As part of this discussion, the author touches on how these programs are funded and introduces cost analysis as a method of evaluating the impact of these programs. To increase the clarity of the discussion, real examples of cost analysis from the literature are provided. (315KB).


pdfimg A New Measuring Stick: Is Access to Higher Education in Canada Equitable? (September 2004)

Alex Usher

This report is the first to attempt to quantify how well different jurisdictions fare in terms of ensuring equitable access to university to students from different socio-economic backgrounds, through use of the Educational Equity Index (EEI). The EEI measures the relative degree of social stratification of the university student population by looking at the proportion of students whose fathers have university credentials and comparing it to the proportion of the overall male population aged 45-64 with university


pdfimg Changes in Tuition Policy: Natural Policy Experiments in Five Countries (August 2004)

Watson Scott Swail & Donald E. Heller

This international study reviews tuition and fee policy changes and strategies in 5 countries and 9 jurisdictions. Funded by the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation and conducted by the Educational Policy Institute, the purpose of this review is to gain an insight into the impact of various tuition policies around the world in terms of enrolment, participation, and tuition pricing. Analysis of these data will help formulate a research-based opinion as to the impact of the stated policies. (629KB) or on the icon below. To view the press release, click here.


pdfimg Meeting the Need: A new Architecture for Canada's Student Financial Aid System (August 2004)

Ross Finnie, Alex Usher, & Hans Vossensteyn

The Institute for Research on Public Policy, a Montreal-based organizaiton, released Meeting the Need: A New Architecture for Canada's Student Financial Aid System earlier today. The report was co-authored by EPI Vice President Alex Usher for the institute for Research on Public Policy, a Montreal-based organization. The report examines the current Canadian system of student financial aid and explores government approaches in other countries and jurisdictions. Usher and co-authors Ross Finnie of Queen's University in Kingston and Hans Vossensteyn of the Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies (CHEPS) in the Netherlands, present alternatives to the current Canadian reality.


pdfimg Latino Youth and the Pathway to College (June 2004)

Watson Scott Swail, Alberto Cabrera, and Chul Lee

Prepared under contract to the Pew Hispanic Institute, Latino Youth and the Pathway to College uses data from the U.S. Department of Education's National Educational Longitudinal Study (NELS), which first surveyed eighth-grade students in 1988 with followup surveys in 1990, 1992, 1994, and a final followup survey in 2000, eight years after scheduled high school graduation.

The study found that, for every 1,000 eighth grade students who are of Hispanic origin, 142 earn a bachelor's degree within 8 years of scheduled high school graduation. By comparison, 318 White students-more than double the number of Latino students-achieve the same outcome. (315KB). To download the press release, click here.

pdfimg Improving Educational Outcomes for Students with Disabilities (May 2004)

Watson Scott Swail & Betsy Brand

The National Council on Disability (NCD), a non-partisan independent federal agency that makes recommendations to the President and Congress on issues affecting Americans with disabilities, released a report in May 2004 that looks at the impact of Congress' No Child Left Behind Act on the postsecondary opportunities for students with disabilities.

The report, written by the American Youth Policy Forum and the Educational Policy Institute, was commissioned by NCD to assist policy leaders and stakeholders in identifying, disseminating, and aligning evidence-based outcome producing practices with the Federal Government's commitment to leaving no child behind in the attainment of a free appropriate public education. This paper is a precursor to a more detailed analysis that NCD will be conducting in coming months to provide additional input and recommendations to Congress and the Administration. (315KB).

pdfimg Work-Based Learning & Higher Education (May 2004)

Watson Scott Swail & Eva Kampits

The Educational Policy Institute (EPI), in Association with the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), released a report in May 2004 regarding work-based learning and university-level education in the United States.

Work-Based Learning & Higher Education: A Research Perspective, supported through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, presents findings of a national survey administered to first-year students at eight (8) four-year institutions in the U.S. regarding their work-based learning experiences during high school. These data were then combined with a subsequent transcript analysis that included university grade point average, credits earned, and student persistence. (375KB). To view the press release, click here.

pdfimg I Love You, Brad, But You Reduce My Student Loan Eligibility (May 2004)

Alex Usher

This report concludes that many Canadian Student Loan Programs actively penalize married students by refusing sufficient aid to those whose spouses do not come up with thousands or even tens of dollars in contributions every year. "Current student aid rules are punitive and confiscatory with respect to married students," said report author and EPI Vice-President Alex Usher. "It is very difficult for a student with a working spouse to obtain a sufficiently large student loan to permit them to pursue their studies, and this needs to change." (392KB). To view the press release, click here.

pdfimg Are the Poor Needy? Are the Needy Poor? The Distribution of Loans and Grants by Family Income Quartile in Canada (May 2004)

Alex Usher

This report, along with the compendium report "Who Gets What?," documents financial aid issues for poor students in Canada, and who gets what aid in the system. (479KB)

pdfimg Who Gets What? The Distribution of Government Subsidies for Post-Secondary Education in Canada (May 2004)

Alex Usher

This study is one part of a two-part inquiry into subsidies for post-secondary education in Canada. A second study, which looks more specifically at needbased assistance, also available from the Educational Policy Institute, is entitled Are the Poor Needy? Are the Needy Poor? The Distribution of Student Loans and Grants by Family Income Quartile in Canada.(383KB)

pdfimg The More Things Change: Undergraduate Student Living Standards After 40 Years of the Canada Student Loan Program (March 2004)

Amy Cervenan and Alex Usher

This research report conducted by EPI Canada reviews 40 years of data on the primary student loan program in Canada. (26 pages, 331KB). Click here to download the press release.

pdfimg Retaining Minority Students in Higher Education (November 2003)

Watson Scott Swail with Kenneth Redd and Laura Perna

This publication focuses on the reasons why students of color do not persist at the postsecondary level at rates similar to white and Asian students, and provides useful tools for administrators and other educational leaders to improve retention on college campuses. Part I provides background on the political and practical issues facing campuses, Part II looks at why students leave college, Part III provides a theoretical model of student retention and a framework to guide institutional leaders during the development of a retention plan at their institution, and Part IV looks at implementation and leadership issues. Appendices includes an annotated reference of retention programs across the U.S., plus an extended annotated bibliography of useful readings.

Trends in Student Aid and College Pricing FLORIDA, 1997-98 to 2001-02 (2003, September) Trends in Student Aid and College Pricing FLORIDA, 1997-98 to 2001-02 (September 2003)

Watson Scott Swail

This research report was conducted by EPI for the Florida Council on Education Policy, Research, and Improvement (CEPRI) and includes data and analysis based on a state-wide survey of postsecondary institutions. (87 pages, 529KB). Click here to download the press release.

pdfimg Student Assistance the American Way (February 2003)

Lawrence E. Gladieux

Written for an audience of non-American educators, the former director of the College Board's Washington Office provides an insightful analysis into the workings of U.S student aid policy that is of interest to education policy watchers both in and out of the U.S.(16 pages, 581KB)

The California Dream and Its Future: Indicators of Educational and Economic Opportunity in the Golden State The California Dream and Its Future: Indicators of Educational and Economic Opportunity in the Golden State (2001)

Lawrence E. Gladieux and Watson Scott Swail

The California Dream and Its Future is an indepth analysis of economic and educational indicators in the nation's largest state. The report concludes that low-income students are bearing a larger burden in paying for college than middle- and higher-income families, even though they receive considerable financial aid. Mirroring the finding on low-income students, the report found that affluent students are better prepared for college and are more likely to receive a degree than those from other socio-economic groups. Sponsored by EdFund, this report was released in September 2001. (78 pages, 995kB)

Outreach Handbook Essays Outreach Handbook Essays (2001)

Watson Scott Swail, Lawrence E. Gladieux, and John B. Lee

This pdf file contains two essays written for the College Board's Outreach Program Handbook 2001. The first essay, Educational Opportunity and the Role of Pre-College Outreach Programs, provides a discussion of the importance of early intervention programs on motivating and preparing historically underrepresented students for higher education. A View of the Landscape provides analysis of data collected through the National Survey of Outreach Programs, a large-scale project developed and directed by Dr. Swail. (31 pages, 510KB)

pdfimg Distance Education & Accreditation-Riding a Tide Of Opportunity School-to-Work and the SAT (2001)

Watson Scott Swail and Eva Kampits

This chapter from the New Directions in Higher Education Sourcebook (2001) Making the Connection Between Accreditation and Learning Outcomes provides insight into the changing world of higher education and the issues of quality control in the U.S. and beyond. This chapter focuses on a likely evolutionary path that identifies the accreditation resources and processes necessary to respond to change in educational-delivery systems with an appropriate system of quality assurance. The chapter concludes with a list of questions rather than answers to help guide future investigation and action in accreditation.

Ensuring Student Loan Repayment (2000)

Watson Scott Swail and others

On October 2-4, 2000, the Office of Student Financial Aid at the US Department of Education sponsored a meeting of officials from FFEL guarantors, lenders, and servicers to Washington, DC to discuss what could be done to further reduce the loan default rates of institutions and students. EPI's Watson Scott Swail, then a senior researcher at SRI International, moderated several of the sessions and also served as one of the primary writers of this monograph, released in 2001 by the Department (57 pages, 849KB)

pdfimg The Role of Early Intervention in Education Reform and Sponsors of Early Intervention Programs (2000)

Watson Scott Swail, David M. Roth, Laura W. Perna, and Robert H. Fenske

The Fall 2000 issue of the ERIC Review contained two articles co-authored by Watson Scott Swail. The first, with David Roth of Occidental College, discussed the challenges facing educators and policymakers to ensure that appropriate safety nets are in place to catch at-risk students at the secondary level. The second piece, with Perna and Fenske, describes the types of organizations and initiatives that support early intervention programs and contains a profile that illustrates this support.

pdfimg Certification and Teacher Preparation in the United States (2000)

Watson Scott Swail and David Roth

This paper was written for the Pacific Resources for Education and Learning (PREL) to help provide a wider lens through which one might view the significant teacher-shortage dilemmas that affect schools and communities in the Pacific. The paper into three sections. Part I provides a perspective of the challenges facing teacher education, recruitment, and quality in the United States. Part II focuses on issues of certification and licensure, with a specific look at the alternative and emergency certification issues across the nation. Finally, Part III provides recommendations with respect to the conditions and critical teacher-quality issues of the Pacific Island entities.

Higher Education and the New Demographics: Questions for Policy Higher Education and the New Demographics: Questions for Policy (July - August 2002)

Watson Scott Swail, Ed.D.

For much of the last half of the 20th century, federal and state policies have focused on opening the doors of higher education to the under-served populations of America. The result has been a qualified success: more students from all backgrounds are attending college than ever before, but large gaps still exist in who goes where and who completes degree programs.

pdfimg Institutional Retention Strategies at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Their Effects on Cohort Default Rates: 1987 - 1995 (1999)

Fred J. Galloway and Watson Scott Swail

This study focuses on an analysis of the factors that significantly affect the cohort default rates at HBCUs, and on the potential for reducing these rates. It is hoped that findings from the analysis will help pave the way for further analysis, and ultimately develop a better understanding of which institutional practices have greater success in reducing the higher default rates for these colleges and universities. Published by the Sallie Mae Education Institute.

pdfimg The Virtual University & Issues of Equity and Access for the Next Generation Educational Opportunity (1998)

Lawrence E. Gladieux and Watson Scott Swail

This report grew out of a paper prepared for the Conference on Lifelong Learning sponsored by the Programme on Institutional Management in Higher Edu-cation (IMHE) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris, France in September 1998. The report poses the question of whether the potential of the latest information technologies for expanding opportunities for postsecondary education is and can be fulfilled, and concludes that the result of the new technologies may be to deepen the divide between educational haves and have-nots, and that the market-place alone will not fix the problem. A special data update collected one year after this report was published is added on the end of the report.

pdfimg Financial Aid is Not Enough (1998)

Lawrence E. Gladieux and Watson Scott Swail

Published in the College Board Review in Summer 1998, this publication provides data and analysis asserting that financial aid is an important factor in college access and persistence. However, other factors, including academic preparation, are pivotal to ultimate success at the postsecondary level. This article provides data on who goes to college, who goes where, and who completes, and asks the question "Why haven't we done better?" The authors conclude with a discussion of public policy and the responsibilities of higher education in rectifying the inequities in access.