41: Proving the Value of Higher Education at The University of Texas System w/ David Troutman

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Dr. David Troutman, Associate Vice Chancellor for Institutional Research and Decision Support at The University of Texas System, discusses how SeekUT, their free online college and career planning tool is designed to better assist students in degree program selection by helping them understand the complete financial story behind their decision.

We were able to identify that musicmajors from ut Al Passo their first year out, are making fifty percent ofthat. We're making FIFTYZERO. You're listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaders looking to grow enrollment attheir college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniques and strategiesor tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's get intothe show. Welcome back to enrollment growth university, a proud member of theconnect Evu podcast network. Americ Olson a VP of marketing at Helix Education,and we're here today with Dr David Troutman, Associate Vice Chancellor of Institutional Research andDecision Support at the University of Texas system. Dr Troutman, welcome tothe show. Thank for having me. Really excited to talk with you todayabout how the University of Texas system is utilizing graduate earnings, utilizing graduate outcomesto prove out the value of higher education and a world where it is constantlybeing put into question. Before we dig too deep into that, David,can you get the listeners a little bit better understanding of both the University ofTexas system and your roll there? Yes, definitely. So the University of Texassystem is made up of a little over two hundred and twenty fivezero students. That's our enrollment per year and we have eight academic institutions and six healthinstitutions. Our academic institutions range from our flagship, which is University of TexasAustin, to University of Texas Al Passo to San Antonio, and then wehave our health institutions that people usually don't recognize that there within our system,which rain from southwestern in Dallas to in the Anderson in Houston. So wehave a variety of different programs from bachelor's degrees to masters to professional and tooPhDs as well. And so within my office, I'm the associated by chancellorfor instudent research and so well, our...

...mission for our office is to makedata timely and meaningful for all sakeholders, whether it be students and parents tothe legislators across the state or even at the national scene, trying to importpeople about how to best use data and how the value of a degree onceyou receive a awesome. So David seek ut is a free online college andcareer planning tool, developed in partnership with the University of Texas system and theUS Census Bureau, that shows the outcomes and earnings of your graduates one year, five year, ten years after they leave your institutions. Talk US throughthe original high level goals behind seek ut. Were you looking to better prove thevalue of a ut degree, better assist students in degree program selection,to better justify state and federal funding by proving the positive outcomes of your graduates, or perhaps all the above? Well, I think it's all the above actually. So just to take a step back, we started this in twothousand and twelve where we really wanted to identify moving beyond just sort of surveybased measures and asking students about how much they make. We wanted to getthe actual data, and so we really were pursuing a variety different avenues,whether it be going to the IRS directly, to social administration. And then whatwe found initially was working with our Texas warforce commission, looking at unemploymentrecords, unemployment wage records. So the state requires all employers to submit unemploymentrecords at a coarly basis to the state and so we we were able tobuild a relationship with that has the warface commission initially getting aggregated reporting of earningsof students and then that grew into a more of a national see, thereason why we were doing this really is first to show the value of adegree and to really make sure that people, or parents and students understood that thevalue of the investment, of investing themselves and the dividends that paid offa long term after receiving that degree,...

...because we always see these news articlesand conversations about the rising causes and education, specifically in student debt. And sothe national average right now, based on the few researches, bachelor's degrees, oh about roughly around twenty fivezero after receiving the degree that they have topay back at you t system. We're pretty fortunate that we have a loweror lower tuition and fees and so on average or about twenty twozero. Butwe still want to make sure that we're telling the complete story of how thosethose dollars that they invested themselves is paying back to them. And so,by gaining access to the UI's wave records, what I did was I initially justmet with students from across our campuses and I said I got them ina room and I said, okay, I have this information. What doyou want? And so what we try to do is capture the spirit ofwhat they needed or what they were searching for into a really easy facing,appealing tools they could simply just click on certain different majors and really understand firstyear, fifth year, in tempt, your earnings and combination with dead soawesome, David, and it's such a great, great tool and great project. help us understand the differences between the helpfulness of the cut database versus thefederal data that's currently being provided through the College score card, for example.Absolutely so. Several years ago the Department Education released the College score card,which is an online consumer tool showing cost and value of education. But intwo thousand and eight the Federal Government passed the Higher Education Act. In thatpassing of that law it restricted a student level record band. What that meansis that the department education cannot share or collaborate with data points with the irsor with the US census or with Social Care Administration. So there's a limitedscope or view of how they can report out using the college coore card,because one of the things that they wanted to do is really understand sort ofthis national or this debt by university compared...

...to actual earnings. So people don'trealize this, but with the college core card, it provides information on earningsof students who had taken loan debt out and it includes anyone that did nottake any loaned out. Well, what does that really mean? That meansthat what we're finding in our data is that students that don't have any loandebt once they've graduated actually are making higher earnings than those students who did takeout loan debt within the same major, and so you're really underestimator devaluing theury associated with a college degree by creating this aggregated reporting of only students thattaken federal financial aid out right using the college core card interesting also, Ithink it's challenging because we know that stem majors to science, technology, engineeringmathematics are going to make more money their first year. Fifth you're out,and if an institution, if their primary focus was in stem field, bynature they're going to make more money. So it's very difficult to compare andcontrast as stem based sort of like an mit versus more of a liberal artsculture or university. Right, right, David. How is cqut currently beingused and and who are your primary users? That's a great question. So theprimary user is the parents student. We wanted to make sure that we'vebuilt a tool that was didn't require you to log in, didn't identify Ididn't require you to identify who you were, and that's really what the students wanted. They wanted to be the identified so we could just they could explorearound and understand the value of education based on earnings, and then other participantswould or other stakeholders would be the legislators. One thing that we've tried to showusing these data is to show the value of state of preparations. Soeach year, based on our Roman numbers, the state provides US dollars that arewe invested into our institution and it...

...covers a lot of the some ofthe costs. So, for example, we did a brief study looking atset of preparations given to us from two thousand and seven to two thousand andeleven. It was about ten billion dollars for all of our campuses. Butwe followed those students. who were we in that? Oh, seven totwo thousand and eleven. We followed them and looked at their five year earningsafter graduation and what we showed is the investment of ten billion resulted in fortythree billion dollars worth of Texas earnings. So it's a four, two onereturn, which is fantastic. Is that really tries to help tell a completestory about the investment from the taxpayers into higher education. And then the otherthing that we've done is we really try to change the conversation at the nationallevel to talk about that income ratios versus just earnings alone. So taking tocombination how much students owe and how much they're earning one year and five yearsout and looking at that ratio, and so we can what we can seeis that after graduating in the work force, ninety two percent of our our programsare below the ten percent rate of debt income ratio. So that basicallymeans that ten percent of their earnings are going towards their student debt. Andso at a five year mark, ninety nine percent of our our programs arebelow the ten percent rate, which is the recommended rate to be under.It's awesome, awesome, huge congratulations David C qt currently tracks alumni of yoursystems institutions as they progress to the workforce. This includes earning levels, loan debtlevels, like you mentioned, by institution and broken down by degree programfrom a data perspective, how are you able to effectively track and report onall of this? That's great. So we've worked with the census with anMOU agreement, to establish identifiers. So what we've been able to do isto and it was a really fascinating journey with the census, we provided themstudent identifiers, so that would be first name, last name, day,a birth, typically social creating numbers, but they have a specialized unit.This solely focus is on the identification,...

...and so we submitted those information intoa secured portal. They flag them to create sort of an identifier, sowe'll say a student ID, and then they once they've created the ID that'smatched with the UI which record they d identified or destroyed any kind of personalidentified information other than their major and then, once they've done that, they createdthis data set that's provided to the the specialize economists to provide information onhow to calculate earning. That way, we would never be able to identifya certain person, but rather we're looking at it by major versus the individualstudent. And then what's once they've done all the analysis on calculating a newearnings, they submit that back to us by the major level, and that'swhat we've introduced or integrated within our tool. So we're very protective of student informationand student identities with if there were anything to have invalidate that, Iwould basically are our office would be shut down, because that's really what wewe really stand on with the integrity of making sure that we're respectful and carefulwith student data. It's awesome, super clever and super smart. David,do you personally have any concerns, or have your faculty raise any concerns withthe transparency of this data, if some students may rely too heavily on thisdata to make college or degree program decisions? I mean that's a great question.So when we initially did this, we were very anxious because I thoughtthat we would hear from the deans of Liberal Art. Every as it findsfine arts and what's interesting is when we release information, we actually the identifiedthe university, meaning that we we coded them sort of as a research one, sort of this large research program versus emerging research and comprehensive. And whenwe released information is people started clicking on...

...the different liber arts, other typesof majors. The universities actually ask us to identify the universities. They wantedto be transparent because they saw a value. So, for example, there's somereally great stories. Using the national data, we were able to identifythat music majors from ut Al Passo, their first year out, are makingon the fifty percent of that. We're making FIFTYZERO. Well, yes,and then there's other programs like rhetoric and composition, which typically, you know, English based. Their first year out from UT ARLINGTON, they're making fortysix thou romance, language is in literature, Forty twozero. So it tells thisreally nice story about the value of these non stem majors that typically peoplethink that they are not making any money, but they actually are. And andin typically your first year out of college will be your lowest earnings andthereafter just increase over time. So we were really concerned about it. Butwhat's interesting is since we've been doing this since two thousand and twelve, wehave not had one complaint from a parent student about the privacy of releasing thisinformation. I think it's so important that you give out those one, fiveand and ten year levels to consimilarly to you, I went in with thisexpectation that that liberal arts salary and the longer term outcomes would prove slightly lessthan stem and while in most cases, with the data that I was ableto browse, their first year salary might have been a little low by fivein tenure it often even doubt if didn't surpass. So I think it doesgive you a really strong defense of the broadness of the of the education ofa liberal arts and then the long term benefits of achieving that kind of education. Absolutely and the one thing that we're trying to concentrate on as well.We're using this as a foundational peace. We have that the earnings will checkthat off as a box. Now we can start really thinking about physic engagement, voter participation, other things that are...

...going to help our society in general. The way I ve you higher ucation that really broadens students perspectives and opportunitiesacross all sasses of life, because there are research out there that shows thatyou know students that graduate with a higher ucation degree they're more healthy, sothey're more aware of avenues to go down to increase their health. So justtrying to get those pieces because tidbits. And then the last thing that Ialways try to emphasize is that one student really inspired me when I interviewed themwhen we first started this. He told me, you know, I justwant to follow my passion, but I also want to make a livable wage. And so what we've done in the website there's a subsection that sort ofhidden and I need to actually expose it more. Is Following your passion andit tells, it gives case studies and photos of different types of students thatfollow their passion, whether it be music, whether it be nursing, whether itbe engineering, and they're happy with their career and they're making a littlewage. And that's all we can really ask is making sure that people arehappy with their day to day because we spend, you know, half ourlife at work. You have to make sure you're happy as well. Right, right, David, I love your ambition behind the data and the datapotential. What are your future hopes with the the cqt tool and do youhold out hope for a similarly helpful federal database one day. I'm hopeful.I'm always helpful. I'm sort of a pollyanna about everything, so we hadto be. I mean, with working in the frontal government, you cantake a take a little bit of time to establish Moo Agreements. So justmaking that you're positive and making sure that you have the right intentions. Andso my host would be that we would move beyond just a US news andworld ranking to actually looking at the value of education and how it helps studentsdevelop into better people overall and then also, lastly, just making sure that theyhave their earnings that they need to...

...be successful in life. And sothat's really the core charter why we were doing this the other where it's goingand I'm hoping that the government will fall sort of the university lead. Thereare several of US around the country that sort of our support groups. SoI work with our I interact with some colleagues from New York and Florida andCalifornia and we just really have conversations about hopefully, one day the department educationscore card will mirror some of the things that we believe are important and andwhat is sitting the needs for students and parents could ultimately, because when developingthe tool, I'm always thinking about a first generation student, someone that hassuch limited experience or exposure. Because I was the first generation student, Ijust happen to be very nosy and ask a lot of questions. As aremy degree really I was. I was the only one in my family everyday receive a degree and so but I was very inquisitive and I wouldn't reallyI would always ask several questions to several people. So with this I alwaystry to frame it as they have limited experience, so let's free things inquestions they can answer using data so that they're better informed. And so yes, that's great they want to go into find studio arts, but at leastthey're informed about their earnings associated with that degree and how much is going totake with student debt if you need to take out any loans, and makingsure that they're well informed before they even pursue that avenue. Love it,David. CONGRATS on being a first generation students that has achieved magnificent success sincethen, and and huge congratulations and Kudos on continuing to empower future first Gen'sto make more conscious and thoughtful college and program specific decisions. I can't thankyou enough for your time today. In general, what's the best place forlisteners to connect with you if they have any followed questions? Probably best placesjust through email, so they can reach me at D Troutman, at yout system dot EEDU. Awesome. Thanks against so much for joining us today. David, great, thanks for me.

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