OCTAE Connection - July 10, 2014 - Issue 205

OCTAE Newsletter

                                  July 10, 2014

            Meet OCTAE’s New Summer Interns

OCTAE would like to welcome our new summer interns, who bring intelligence, initiative, and passion to their work. The entire staff is grateful to have them on our team.

Thomas White is a rising senior at California State University, Fullerton. He is a criminal justice major and active in the school’s College Legal Clinic, which facilitates access to legal services for students. White is excited to learn more about the inner workings of a cabinet-level agency and to help facilitate its daily operations. He would also like to learn more about the impact the federal government can make on student success. He is working in the Office of the Assistant Secretary.

Juan Garavito is a rising senior at Princeton University in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He was born in Colombia and moved to Virginia in his youth, and his hometown is the greater Richmond area. Garavito is excited about the opportunity to work with John Linton on correctional education and reentry, and looks forward to a summer of significant learning and a wealth of new experiences related to that field.

McKenzie Baecker is a rising senior at the University of Wisconsin—River Falls majoring in agricultural education. The combination of growing up on her family’s dairy farm and a desire to work with students led Baecker to pursue a career as an agriculture teacher. Her internship experience at the Department of Education so far has opened her eyes to the impact the federal government can make on students, and she hopes to work at ED again in the future.

U.S. Department of Labor Announces Awards of Employment Services Grants to Formerly Incarcerated Adults and Youths

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently announced it awarded $74 million in grants to 37 community service organizations. These grants are intended to provide employment, training, and support services to reintegrate formerly incarcerated adults and youths involved in the juvenile justice system into their communities. According to Deputy Attorney General James Cole, more than half a million individuals are released from state and federal prisons each year, and re-entry programs play a critical role in ensuring that formerly incarcerated individuals receive the skills necessary for successful reintegration. 

The selected grantees will provide a variety of services, including “case management, mentoring, education and training that leads to industry-recognized credentials.” These programs will target high-poverty and high-crime areas, with several of the new grantees located in U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-designated Promise Zones. Adult education providers, including those working in correctional education, our federal partners, and others providing services to individuals in the juvenile and criminal justice systems may wish to explore the activities under these grants for potential application to their own work.

According to DOL’s announcement, more than $44 million for 21 grants were awarded for the second round of the Face Forward initiative, which “combines the most promising workforce and juvenile justice strategies available to improve participants' chances of success. … Funded programs will also help to address the stigma of having a juvenile record by offering services to seal juvenile records and providing opportunities to handle delinquency complaints outside of the juvenile justice system.”

The remaining $30 million in funding, as stated, went to 17 organizations through the Training to Work Adult Reentry program to “help men and women participating in state or local work-release programs gain the job skills necessary to succeed in in-demand occupations upon reintegrating back into society.” These grants build on the Department's involvement with the Career Pathways Initiative, which “better coordinates education and training services to enable workers to attain industry-recognized credentials and find jobs.”

Please access the Department of Labor’s Reintegration of Ex-Offender website to learn more about the program.

Webinars on Gaining Credit for Military Experience 

As described in OCTAE Connection issue 198 (May 29, 2014), the National College Credit Recommendation Service and NOCTI Business Solutions joined to cohost two webinars on the process used to review assessments for recommending college credits for military experience and to explain how individuals can earn these credits.  The first webinar, on July 9, was filled to capacity.   Openings are still available for the second webinar, “Gaining Credit for Technical Skill Work Experience,” scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 16, at 10 a.m.  To register, please visit http://www.noctibusiness.com/WebinarRegistration.cfm.

              Is It Still Worth Going to College?  

The debate about the value of a college degree continues to garner widespread attention in the press.  Anecdotal accounts vie with scholarly assessments for attention.  OCTAE Connection has addressed this issue in earlier columns, and a recent article in the FRBSF Economic Newsletter, “Is It Still Worth Going to College?,  by Mary C. Daly and Leila Bengali, two staff members at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, also tackles this important topic.  The article contains important information for anyone attempting to understand the economic value or “worth” of a four-year degree.

Media accounts of the rising cost of a college education and the “relatively bleak” employment picture for new college graduates prompted the authors to evaluate whether or not a four-year college degree is worthwhile. Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (a longitudinal survey of a nationally representative sample of individuals from 1968 to the present), which compared the annual labor earnings of individuals with only a high school diploma to the earnings of college graduates, the authors calculated educational attainment against income.  This enabled them to find the “college premium,” or “difference in mean annual labor income of college graduates in each year since graduation and earnings of high school graduates in years since graduation plus four.”  The authors then converted the premium into 2011 dollars, adjusted for inflation.

As college attendance varies greatly from student to student, the authors used four assumptions: 1) college lasts four years; 2) students enter college directly from high school; 3) tuition costs are level across the four years; and 4) students have no earnings while in school. 

The article concludes that a four-year college degree continues to be a sound investment for the average student.  The benefits of a college degree, as measured by higher earnings, far outweigh the costs of attaining that degree.  The average four-year degree holder, paying annual tuition of about $20,000, recovers the costs of schooling by age 40.  Beyond the age of 40, the average college graduate earns over $800,000 more than the average high school graduate by retirement age.