Oakland, CA – States invest heavily in education, providing funding either directly or in the form of financial aid from preschool through college, with positive outcomes from those impacting nearly every other area of public policy, particularly the workforce. To understand and assess results, states collect and analyze information about these investments at various levels, and most have already created longitudinal data systems. These systems empower students to make better-informed decisions and provide policymakers with a deeper understanding of the factors that shape student outcomes in order to create public policy to address state priorities.
What’s Aid Got to Do With It? The Importance of Incorporating Financial Aid Data in California’s Cradle-to-Career Data System, the latest report from The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS), examines how states – Texas, Virginia, and Maryland – have utilized financial aid data in their longitudinal and higher education data systems and provides recommendations for ways California can follow suit to build a longitudinal data system that will help address equity gaps within the state.
“The COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting recession, have made the data system even more essential for the purposes of targeting resources where they are needed most,” notes Angela Perry, TICAS Senior Policy Analyst and report author. “A centralized statewide longitudinal data system will make it possible to explore how access and success across higher education systems vary for students of different backgrounds, allowing California to measure the reach of programs designed to aid underserved populations and address persisting statewide equity gaps.”
As the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc across the state, California may have an even more critical need in the years ahead for better information to inform decisions about how to best target state dollars to meet vulnerable students’ financial need. State, federal, and institutional financial aid policies intersect in complex but important ways, and having data about student outcomes can inform policymakers as they seek to understand the reach of financial aid programs, and impact of student debt on students in the state.
The Institute for College Access & Success is a trusted source of research, design, and advocacy for student-centered public policies that promote affordability, accountability, and equity in higher education. For more information see www.ticas.org or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.