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Why a Temporary Immigration Solution is Still Problematic for STEM Workers

November 21, 2014 Comments off

Why a Temporary Immigration Solution is Still Problematic for STEM Workers
Source: Brookings Institution

In 2007 and 2008 when immigration reform failed in Congress, President George W. Bush extended the one-year OPT to 29 months for foreign students who graduated with a bachelor’s degree or higher in STEM fields. In June 2012, President Obama maintained Bush’s 29-month OPT term limit for STEM fields and increased the number of fields eligible for extension by an additional 90 fields.

Based on my research released earlier this year, about 38 percent of all foreign students on F-1 visas, or 362,500, were studying in the STEM fields during the 2008 to 2012 time period. This means that at least 72,500 graduates per year may benefit from this STEM OPT extension.

Yet, this temporary solution is problematic on several fronts.

+ First, it does not offer a direct pathway from earning a degree to permanent residency. If F-1 visa holders want to work beyond their OPT period, their employers must compete for H-1B visas for highly specialized workers. The current visa system still limits the number of H-1B visas to 85,000 for private employers per year, of which 20,000 are set aside for graduates of U.S. universities. While H-1B visas are an option for students, only 35 percent of H-1B visas in 2010 went to former F-1 visa holders, including those extended through OPT.

+ Second, if a foreign student’s employer is able to obtain an H-1B visa and then sponsors a green card application, the wait time for permanent residency can be more than 10 years due to per-country limits (each country can only get 7 percent of all green cards), a problem particularly for Indian and Chinese nationals—two of the largest foreign student populations. This executive action can potentially add more foreign workers into the green card pipeline, creating even longer wait times.

+ Third, there are no minimum wage or salary requirements for foreign student graduates under the OPT program. Unlike the H-1B visa that involves the Department of Labor in ensuring that foreign workers are paid a prevailing wage for their specific occupation, the OPT does not collect wage nor occupational data. OPT is missing these important protections since it was originally created as an educational program to provide a year of work experience, rather than used as an employment-based visa.

See also:
Obama’s Immigration Order Isn’t a Power Grab
Four Realities about Executive Actions; Moving Beyond the Rhetoric of Immigration Reform

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Major Decisions: Graduates’ Earnings Growth and Debt Repayment

November 20, 2014 Comments off

Major Decisions: Graduates’ Earnings Growth and Debt Repayment
Source: Brookings Institution

Student debt is becoming the norm for young adults in America. Aggregate student loan debt has more than tripled over the past decade, as both the number of borrowers and the size of the average balance have increased. Today, roughly 70 percent of American bachelor’s graduates leave school with debt. For these borrowers, the typical balance is $26,500—half owe more than this amount and half owe less.

The high incidence of student debt says nothing about whether taking out student loans to pay for college is a good idea. In a previous economic analysis Major Decisions: What Graduates Earn Over Their Lifetimes, The Hamilton Project examined earnings for approximately 80 majors and found that, throughout the entire career, median earnings for every major are higher than those for high school graduates. Differences in earnings reflect both the return to skills acquired in pursuit of a degree and the underlying capability and work ethic of individuals who pursue college education. However, experts agree that for most students, college will pay off by large margins over a lifetime.

But how easily students can repay the loans used to pay for college is another matter. While career earnings tend to grow rapidly for almost every major, student loans are typically repaid in the first decade of the career when earnings are at their lowest. Such a repayment strategy places a particularly heavy burden on graduates whose earnings start low before rising later in their careers. For these students, college likely still pays off in the end, but it may not provide the cash flow needed to easily pay off loans in the years immediately following graduation.

In this second economic analysis in the Major Decisions series, The Hamilton Project turns to the question of loan repayment. The analysis explores the relationship between earnings growth over one’s career and the relative burden of debt repayment across 80 majors. Specifically, we examine the share of monthly earnings needed to make monthly loan repayments for each major under the traditional 10-year repayment plan. Accompanying the analysis is a new interactive feature that combines a debt repayment calculator with major-specific earnings trajectories, allowing the user to see what share of earnings will go to debt repayment for each year of the repayment period.

States and the (not so) new standards — where are they now?

November 20, 2014 Comments off

States and the (not so) new standards — where are they now? (PDF)
Source: Education Commission of the States

There has been a flurry of activity around the Common Core State Standards, and while it seems the landscape is changing all the time, there has been very limited change in state standards. This report captures a snapshot of where states currently stand in regard to those standards.

Graduation Rates for Selected Cohorts, 2005-10; and Student Financial Aid in Postsecondary Institutions, Academic Year 2012-13: First Look (Provisional Data) NCES 2014-

November 20, 2014 Comments off

Graduation Rates for Selected Cohorts, 2005-10; and Student Financial Aid in Postsecondary Institutions, Academic Year 2012-13: First Look (Provisional Data) NCES 2014-
Source: National Center for Education Statistics

This provisional First Look report includes fully edited and imputed data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) winter 2013-14 data collection, which included two survey components: Graduation Rates for selected cohorts 2005-2010, as well as Student Financial data for the academic year 2012-13.

Open Doors 2014: International Students in the United States and Study Abroad by American Students are at All-Time High

November 20, 2014 Comments off

Open Doors 2014: International Students in the United States and Study Abroad by American Students are at All-Time High
Source: Institute of International Education

The 2014 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, released today, finds the number of international students at colleges and universities in the United States increased by eight percent to a record high of 886,052 students in the 2013/14 academic year, confirming once again that the United States remains the destination of choice for higher education. The United States hosts more of the world’s 4.5 million globally mobile college and university students than any other country in the world, with almost double the number hosted by the United Kingdom, the second leading host country. The report also found that more American students—a total of 289,408—studied abroad for academic credit from their U.S. colleges and universities, although the two percent increase represents a slightly slower rate of growth than the previous year. The Open Doors® report is published annually by the Institute of International Education in partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Open-source textbooks can help drive down the overall cost of college

November 19, 2014 Comments off

Open-source textbooks can help drive down the overall cost of college (PDF)
Source: Education Commission of the States

There is growing national and international interest in Open Educational Resources as a way to help financially distressed states reduce costs and save students millions of dollars.

Completing College: A National View of Student Attainment Rates – Fall 2008 Cohort

November 19, 2014 Comments off

Completing College: A National View of Student Attainment Rates – Fall 2008 Cohort
Source: National Student Clearinghouse Research Center

This third annual report on national college completion rates offers the first look at the six-year outcomes for students who began postsecondary education in fall 2008, the cohort that entered college during the Great Recession. It looks at the various pathways students took toward degree completion, as well as the completion rates through May 2014 for the different student types who followed each pathway. The report also provides discussion comparing the fall 2008 cohort’s outcomes to those of the fall 2007 cohort (analyzed in our second annual completions report, Signature Report 6).

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