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The Middle-Class Squeeze: A Picture of Stagnant Incomes, Rising Costs, and What We Can Do to Strengthen America’s Middle Class

October 21, 2014 Comments off

The Middle-Class Squeeze: A Picture of Stagnant Incomes, Rising Costs, and What We Can Do to Strengthen America’s Middle Class
Source: Center for American Progress

The American middle class is in trouble.

The middle-class share of national income has fallen, middle-class wages are stagnant, and the middle class in the United States is no longer the world’s wealthiest.

But income is only one side of the story. The cost of being in the middle class—and of maintaining a middle-class standard of living—is rising fast too. For fundamental needs such as child care and health care, costs have risen dramatically over the past few decades, taking up larger shares of family budgets. The reality is that the middle class is being squeezed. As this report will show, for a married couple with two children, the costs of key elements of middle-class security—child care, higher education, health care, housing, and retirement—rose by more than $10,000 in the 12 years from 2000 to 2012, at a time when this family’s income was stagnant.

As sharp as this squeeze can be, the pain does not stop at one family, or even at millions of families. Because of the critical role that middle-class consumers play in creating aggregate demand, the American economy is in trouble when the American middle class is in trouble. And the long-term health of the U.S. economy is at risk if financially squeezed families cannot afford—and smart public policies do not support—developing the next generation of America’s workforce. It is this workforce that will lead the United States in an increasingly open and competitive global economy.

This report provides a snapshot of the American middle class and those struggling to become a part of it. It focuses on six key pillars that can help define security for households: jobs, early childhood programs, higher education, health care, housing, and retirement. Each chapter is both descriptive and prescriptive—detailing both how the middle class is doing and what policies can help it do better.

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U.S. Department of Education Announces Final Rule to Help Colleges Keep Campuses Safe

October 17, 2014 Comments off

U.S. Department of Education Announces Final Rule to Help Colleges Keep Campuses Safe
Source: U.S. Department of Education

The Obama Administration today announced publication of the final rule implementing changes made to the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act) by the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA). That law and the new rule strengthen the Clery Act to more effectively address, and ultimately reduce, sexual violence on college campuses, including, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.

The Clery Act requires institutions of higher education to comply with certain campus safety- and security-related requirements as a condition of participating in the Federal student financial aid programs authorized by Title IV of the Higher Education Act.

Earlier this year, the Department announced that a negotiating rulemaking committee, representing a broad range of experience, interests, and perspectives including campus law enforcement and security professionals, victim advocates, school attorneys, student affairs professionals, and most importantly, students, reached consensus on the draft of the new campus safety provisions. Those draft provisions were published in the Federal Register on June 20 as a proposed rule (NPRM) and included a 30-day public comment period.

Based on comments received from a variety of individuals and groups after publication of the proposed rule, the final rule includes additional requirements to ensure that institutions provide the most complete information possible to their students, better inform and protect victims, and clarify the process for collecting crime statistics and for disclosing in their annual security report the number of crime incidents that were fully investigated and determined to be unfounded, and thus, not included in their crime statistics during the three most recent calendar years.

Credit Status and College Investment: Implications for Student Loan Policies

October 15, 2014 Comments off

Credit Status and College Investment: Implications for Student Loan Policies
Source: Federal Reserve Board

The private market for student loans has become an important source of college financing in the United States. Unlike government student loans, the terms on student loans in the private market are based on credit status. We quantify the importance of the private market for student loans and of credit status for college investment in a general equilibrium heterogeneous life-cycle economy. We find that students with good credit status invest in more college education (compared to those with bad credit status) and that this effect is more pronounced for low-income students. Furthermore, results suggest that the relationship between credit status and college investment has important policy implications. Specifically, when borrowing limits in the government student loan program are relaxed (as implemented in 2008), college investment increases, but so does the riskiness of the pool of borrowers, leading to higher default rates in the private market for student loans. When general equilibrium effects are accounted for, the welfare gains experienced from a more generous government student loan program are negated. This compares to budget-neutral tuition subsidies that increase college investment and welfare.

Sleep Quality during Exam Stress: The Role of Alcohol, Caffeine and Nicotine

October 14, 2014 Comments off

Sleep Quality during Exam Stress: The Role of Alcohol, Caffeine and Nicotine
Source: PLoS ONE

Academic exam stress is known to compromise sleep quality and alter drug consumption in university students. Here we evaluated if sleeping problems and changes in legal drug consumption during exam stress are interrelated. We used the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) to survey sleep quality before, during, and after an academic exam period in 150 university students in a longitudinal questionnaire study. Self-reports of alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine consumption were obtained. The Perceived Stress Questionnaire (PSQ-20) was used as a measure of stress. Sleep quality and alcohol consumption significantly decreased, while perceived stress and caffeine consumption significantly increased during the exam period. No significant change in nicotine consumption was observed. In particular, students shortened their time in bed and showed symptoms of insomnia. Mixed model analysis indicated that sex, age, health status, as well as the amounts of alcohol and caffeine consumed had no significant influence on global sleep quality. The amount of nicotine consumed and perceived stress were identified as significant predictors of diminished sleep quality. Nicotine consumption had a small-to-very-small effect on sleep quality; perceived stress had a small-to-moderate effect. In conclusion, diminished sleep quality during exam periods was mainly predicted by perceived stress, while legal drug consumption played a minor role. Exam periods may pose an interesting model for the study of stress-induced sleeping problems and their mechanisms.

Credit Card Tuition Payment Survey 2014: Fees, restrictions wipe out dreams of rewards

October 10, 2014 Comments off

Credit Card Tuition Payment Survey 2014: Fees, restrictions wipe out dreams of rewards
Source: CreditCards.com

Students and parents looking to pay a large college tuition bill with a credit card to earn rewards should expect to add a 2.62 percent convenience fee for the privilege of doing so, according to a CreditCards.com survey.

That fee, which would add $262 to a $10,000 tuition payment, is big enough to make paying tuition by credit card unattractive to rewards cardholders, since the fee more than wipes out most rewards.

The survey looked at tuition payment options offered by 300 U.S. private, public and community schools — the largest 100 of each class of school, based on attendance.

Overall, 260 schools (87 percent) accept credit cards for tuition payments under at least some circumstances. However, tuition payment policies and fees vary greatly among the types of schools and between individual institutions.

Holistic Admissions in the Health Professions

October 6, 2014 Comments off

Holistic Admissions in the Health Professions (PDF)
Source: Urban Universities for Health

Many colleges and universities use a holistic admission process to select students. The practice has become more popular in health fields such as medicine, because it enables schools to evaluate a broader range of criteria important for student success, and to select individuals with the background and skills needed to meet the demands of a transforming health care environment. However, the extent to which this admissions practice was being used across schools of other health professions nationwide and the impact it has had on academic success, diversity, and other outcomes—such as students’ engagement with the community—were largely unknown until now. This report is the first to examine nationwide the impact and use of holistic review—a university admissions process that assesses an applicant’s unique experiences alongside traditional measures of academic achievement such as grades and test scores—for students pursuing careers in the health professions.

Hays Global Skills Index 2014

October 3, 2014 Comments off

Hays Global Skills Index 2014
Source: Oxford Economics

The global talent crisis continues to worsen. Across the globe, organisations fight to find employees with the necessary skills and training.

Oxford Economics and Hays Recruiting have collaborated for the third year running to produce the Hays Global Skills Index 2014. The index has proved invaluable for illuminating broad-based labour market trends while also revealing targeted insights about each country’s unique demand and supply drivers.

Free registration required to access report.

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