Friday Roundup: College affordability, Seattle’s missing middle class, promoting post-secondary success

There are always a few items we’ve read during the week that deserve more attention but don’t make it into our regular posts. So we bundle them for the Friday roundup.

Here’s this week’s bundle:

Manhattan Institute: The Affordability Conundrum: Value, Price and Choice in Higher Education

College affordability, in short, has taken on a new meaning. While investments in education still tend to be worth it, with an average financial return of 15% for students who complete a degree, the price tag is daunting and raises questions about how students and their families should think about what is affordable to them. In the past, the affordability of a college degree was largely determined by how much you’d put away in a savings account, by how much your family was willing to chip in, or by how much of your income you were willing to devote to paying tuition and fees. Today, students are increasingly relying on debt to finance their education, even among families for whom net costs have remained relatively flat. In 2000, the typical student covered 38% of his tuition and fees with debt. That percentage had increased to 50% by 2013. Even very well-off families are now financing their children’s education using student debt, whereas in the past it was a resource primarily utilized by the middle class.

In this environment, answering the question of whether college is affordable is not a simple task. But that is what we seek to do. 

Ready Washington (on Medium): Helping Students Prepare for Success After High School

And why exactly do standards and assessments matter? Our state will have more than 700,000 job openings over the next five years, most of which will require a postsecondary credential of some kind — from apprenticeship training to an industry certificate to a two- or four-year college degree. We want Washington students to be ready for these jobs.

Our state’s learning standards lay out what students need to know and be

able to do once they graduate, such as writing, problem solving and critical thinking. The state assessments students take are designed to measure students’ progress toward meeting these goals. Students’ performance on these assessments give them, along with their parents and teachers, important information about whether they are ready to take more advance courses, or if they need a little extra help.

Seattle Times: Will the last middle-class person leaving Seattle turn out the lights?

From 2010 to 2015, Seattle added just 6,000 residents with full-time jobs that pay less than $75,000 — a mere 4 percent bump. Meanwhile, the number of high-earning Seattleites grew by 31,000, which represents a 45 percent increase. Census data show that the biggest gains in full-time employment were in management and tech jobs, both of which have median pay above that $75,000 threshold.