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 music majors from ut Al Passo their first year out, are making fifty percent of that. 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 at their college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to enrollment growth university, a proud member of the connect 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 and Decision Support at the University of Texas system. Dr Troutman, welcome to the show. Thank for having me. Really excited to talk with you today about how the University of Texas system is utilizing graduate earnings, utilizing graduate outcomes to prove out the value of higher education and a world where it is constantly being 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 of Texas system and your roll there? Yes, definitely. So the University of Texas system 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 health institutions. Our academic institutions range from our flagship, which is University of Texas Austin, to University of Texas Al Passo to San Antonio, and then we have 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 we have a variety of different programs from bachelor's degrees to masters to professional and too PhDs as well. And so within my office, I'm the associated by chancellor for instudent research and so well, our...

...mission for our office is to make data timely and meaningful for all sakeholders, whether it be students and parents to the legislators across the state or even at the national scene, trying to import people about how to best use data and how the value of a degree once you receive a awesome. So David seek ut is a free online college and career planning tool, developed in partnership with the University of Texas system and the US Census Bureau, that shows the outcomes and earnings of your graduates one year, five year, ten years after they leave your institutions. Talk US through the original high level goals behind seek ut. Were you looking to better prove the value 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 two thousand and twelve where we really wanted to identify moving beyond just sort of survey based measures and asking students about how much they make. We wanted to get the 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 what we found initially was working with our Texas warforce commission, looking at unemployment records, unemployment wage records. So the state requires all employers to submit unemployment records at a coarly basis to the state and so we we were able to build a relationship with that has the warface commission initially getting aggregated reporting of earnings of students and then that grew into a more of a national see, the reason why we were doing this really is first to show the value of a degree and to really make sure that people, or parents and students understood that the value of the investment, of investing themselves and the dividends that paid off a long term after receiving that degree,...

...because we always see these news articles and conversations about the rising causes and education, specifically in student debt. And so the 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 to pay back at you t system. We're pretty fortunate that we have a lower or lower tuition and fees and so on average or about twenty twozero. But we still want to make sure that we're telling the complete story of how those those 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 just met with students from across our campuses and I said I got them in a room and I said, okay, I have this information. What do you want? And so what we try to do is capture the spirit of what 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 first year, fifth year, in tempt, your earnings and combination with dead so awesome, 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 the federal 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 in two thousand and eight the Federal Government passed the Higher Education Act. In that passing of that law it restricted a student level record band. What that means is that the department education cannot share or collaborate with data points with the irs or with the US census or with Social Care Administration. So there's a limited scope 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 of this national or this debt by university compared...

...to actual earnings. So people don't realize this, but with the college core card, it provides information on earnings of students who had taken loan debt out and it includes anyone that did not take any loaned out. Well, what does that really mean? That means that what we're finding in our data is that students that don't have any loan debt once they've graduated actually are making higher earnings than those students who did take out loan debt within the same major, and so you're really underestimator devaluing the ury associated with a college degree by creating this aggregated reporting of only students that taken federal financial aid out right using the college core card interesting also, I think it's challenging because we know that stem majors to science, technology, engineering mathematics 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, by nature they're going to make more money. So it's very difficult to compare and contrast as stem based sort of like an mit versus more of a liberal arts culture or university. Right, right, David. How is cqut currently being used and and who are your primary users? That's a great question. So the primary user is the parents student. We wanted to make sure that we've built a tool that was didn't require you to log in, didn't identify I didn'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 explore around and understand the value of education based on earnings, and then other participants would or other stakeholders would be the legislators. One thing that we've tried to show using these data is to show the value of state of preparations. So each year, based on our Roman numbers, the state provides US dollars that are we invested into our institution and it...

...covers a lot of the some of the costs. So, for example, we did a brief study looking at set of preparations given to us from two thousand and seven to two thousand and eleven. It was about ten billion dollars for all of our campuses. But we followed those students. who were we in that? Oh, seven to two thousand and eleven. We followed them and looked at their five year earnings after graduation and what we showed is the investment of ten billion resulted in forty three billion dollars worth of Texas earnings. So it's a four, two one return, which is fantastic. Is that really tries to help tell a complete story about the investment from the taxpayers into higher education. And then the other thing that we've done is we really try to change the conversation at the national level to talk about that income ratios versus just earnings alone. So taking to combination how much students owe and how much they're earning one year and five years out and looking at that ratio, and so we can what we can see is that after graduating in the work force, ninety two percent of our our programs are below the ten percent rate of debt income ratio. So that basically means that ten percent of their earnings are going towards their student debt. And so at a five year mark, ninety nine percent of our our programs are below 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 your systems institutions as they progress to the workforce. This includes earning levels, loan debt levels, like you mentioned, by institution and broken down by degree program from a data perspective, how are you able to effectively track and report on all of this? That's great. So we've worked with the census with an MOU agreement, to establish identifiers. So what we've been able to do is to and it was a really fascinating journey with the census, we provided them student 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 into a secured portal. They flag them to create sort of an identifier, so we'll say a student ID, and then they once they've created the ID that's matched with the UI which record they d identified or destroyed any kind of personal identified information other than their major and then, once they've done that, they created this data set that's provided to the the specialize economists to provide information on how to calculate earning. That way, we would never be able to identify a certain person, but rather we're looking at it by major versus the individual student. And then what's once they've done all the analysis on calculating a new earnings, they submit that back to us by the major level, and that's what we've introduced or integrated within our tool. So we're very protective of student information and student identities with if there were anything to have invalidate that, I would basically are our office would be shut down, because that's really what we we really stand on with the integrity of making sure that we're respectful and careful with student data. It's awesome, super clever and super smart. David, do you personally have any concerns, or have your faculty raise any concerns with the transparency of this data, if some students may rely too heavily on this data 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 thought that we would hear from the deans of Liberal Art. Every as it finds fine arts and what's interesting is when we release information, we actually the identified the 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 when we released information is people started clicking on...

...the different liber arts, other types of majors. The universities actually ask us to identify the universities. They wanted to be transparent because they saw a value. So, for example, there's some really great stories. Using the national data, we were able to identify that music majors from ut Al Passo, their first year out, are making on 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 forty six thou romance, language is in literature, Forty twozero. So it tells this really nice story about the value of these non stem majors that typically people think that they are not making any money, but they actually are. And and in typically your first year out of college will be your lowest earnings and thereafter just increase over time. So we were really concerned about it. But what's interesting is since we've been doing this since two thousand and twelve, we have not had one complaint from a parent student about the privacy of releasing this information. I think it's so important that you give out those one, five and and ten year levels to consimilarly to you, I went in with this expectation that that liberal arts salary and the longer term outcomes would prove slightly less than stem and while in most cases, with the data that I was able to browse, their first year salary might have been a little low by five in tenure it often even doubt if didn't surpass. So I think it does give you a really strong defense of the broadness of the of the education of a 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 check that 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 opportunities across all sasses of life, because there are research out there that shows that you know students that graduate with a higher ucation degree they're more healthy, so they're more aware of avenues to go down to increase their health. So just trying to get those pieces because tidbits. And then the last thing that I always try to emphasize is that one student really inspired me when I interviewed them when we first started this. He told me, you know, I just want 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 of hidden and I need to actually expose it more. Is Following your passion and it tells, it gives case studies and photos of different types of students that follow their passion, whether it be music, whether it be nursing, whether it be engineering, and they're happy with their career and they're making a little wage. And that's all we can really ask is making sure that people are happy with their day to day because we spend, you know, half our life at work. You have to make sure you're happy as well. Right, right, David, I love your ambition behind the data and the data potential. What are your future hopes with the the cqt tool and do you hold 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 had to be. I mean, with working in the frontal government, you can take a take a little bit of time to establish Moo Agreements. So just making that you're positive and making sure that you have the right intentions. And so my host would be that we would move beyond just a US news and world ranking to actually looking at the value of education and how it helps students develop into better people overall and then also, lastly, just making sure that they have their earnings that they need to...

...be successful in life. And so that's really the core charter why we were doing this the other where it's going and I'm hoping that the government will fall sort of the university lead. There are several of US around the country that sort of our support groups. So I work with our I interact with some colleagues from New York and Florida and California and we just really have conversations about hopefully, one day the department education score card will mirror some of the things that we believe are important and and what is sitting the needs for students and parents could ultimately, because when developing the tool, I'm always thinking about a first generation student, someone that has such limited experience or exposure. Because I was the first generation student, I just happen to be very nosy and ask a lot of questions. As are my degree really I was. I was the only one in my family every day receive a degree and so but I was very inquisitive and I wouldn't really I would always ask several questions to several people. So with this I always try to frame it as they have limited experience, so let's free things in questions 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 least they're informed about their earnings associated with that degree and how much is going to take with student debt if you need to take out any loans, and making sure 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 since then, and and huge congratulations and Kudos on continuing to empower future first Gen's to make more conscious and thoughtful college and program specific decisions. I can't thank you enough for your time today. In general, what's the best place for listeners to connect with you if they have any followed questions? Probably best places just through email, so they can reach me at D Troutman, at you t system dot EEDU. Awesome. Thanks against so much for joining us today. David, great, thanks for me.

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