First-of-its-kind collaboration unveils nationwide earnings of graduates by program of study and institution

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Salary and debt data for graduates of University of Texas institutions – no matter where they live and work – are now available, thanks to a partnership between The University of Texas System and the United States Census Bureau.

As part of a joint pilot project, the UT System and the U.S. Census Bureau’s Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics (LEHD) program has released national aggregated data of earnings by institution and major for undergraduate, graduate, and professional students alongside student debt for graduates of UT institutions. To ensure privacy, individual student data is not accessible.

The UT System will discuss the data and its impact with representatives of higher education organizations at 9:30 a.m. (ET) Tuesday, March 27 at the UT System Office of Federal Relations, 1750 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 900, Washington, D.C. Media is invited to attend.

“The national data gives students and families a more accurate expectation of the return on investment in a UT degree while at the same time providing a comprehensive picture of post-collegiate outcomes for employment earnings and industry,” said Stephanie Huie, vice chancellor for the UT System’s Office of Strategic Initiatives. “Until now, this sort of information was unavailable by program and at a national level.”

The data product, officially called Post-Secondary Employment Outcomes, can be accessed at seekUT™ (seekUT.utsystem.edu), the UT System’s free online tool that until now provided salary and debt data only for graduates living in Texas. In addition to institution and program-level earnings, the data also offer insight to student loan debt across the UT System, which includes 14 institutions and enrolls 230,000 students.

For example:

  • 92 percent of UT baccalaureate programs system-wide have a debt-to-income ratio of 10 percent or less – one year after graduation. That means estimated student loan payments constitute less than 10 percent of students’ total salary.
     
  • 99 percent of UT baccalaureate programs system-wide have a debt-to-income ratio of 10 percent or less – five years after graduation.

“Ever since a student unit record ban was implemented as part of the Higher Education Act Reauthorization in 2008, a growing number of colleges and universities have been grappling with insufficient data to demonstrate the success of graduates,” Huie said. “The UT System and the U.S. Census Bureau have found an innovative way to deliver this valuable information while keeping the individual information of students strictly confidential.”

The PROSPER Act is seeking to reauthorize and amend the Higher Education Reauthorization Act but does not overturn the current ban on the collection of student-level data. The partnership between the UT System and the U.S. Census Bureau offers an alternative pathway for higher education institutions to access data on post-graduation earnings for degree holders across the country.

The 10-year partnership between the UT System and the U.S. Census Bureau lays the groundwork for other higher education institutions and agencies to form similar partnerships to measure earnings and employment outcomes of their graduates.

“These new tabulations are a good example of how administrative data is being used in innovative ways to better inform the public about educational outcomes in the labor market,” said Andrew Foote, U.S. Census Bureau economist. “Right now, we’re working toward integrating additional higher education systems in the Post-Secondary Employment Outcomes data.”

The partnership also represents the first time a higher education institution has established a collaboration with a federal agency to measure earnings outcomes in order to offer a more in-depth perspective than what is currently available through the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard. For example:

  • Graduates vs. non-graduates – The combined data from the U.S. Census Bureau LEHD and UT System provides national earnings data specifically for students who graduated, while the College Scorecard displays earnings for all students, regardless of whether the student graduated, in one aggregate number.
  • Federal Aid Recipients vs. All Students – The combined data from the U.S. Census Bureau LEHD and UT System provides earnings for all students, regardless of financial aid status, while the College Scorecard represents earnings only for students who receive federal financial aid. The percentage of students who receive financial aid ranges from 32 to 62 percent across UT institutions, which means a significant number of students are not included in the Scorecard.
  • Program Level Data vs. Institutional Level – As reported recently in the brief “Major Matters Most,” earnings vary significantly by program. The UT System and U.S. Census Bureau partnership provides earnings data at the program level of each institution, making it more precise than the Scorecard, which provides earnings only at the institution level.

“We can now provide comprehensive national information to help our students and their families make decisions to support their career interests and to better understand how those decisions may impact them financially,” UT System Chancellor William H. McRaven said. “And this also will provide university leadership important insights on the performance of their graduates in the workforce.”

In addition to the valuable data for the UT System, the partnership also provides important insight for the LEHD program into the feasibility of future large-scale education research projects for the Census Bureau.

The next data release from the partnership will explore the flow of graduates into employment as well as the location and industry of those employers, similar to LEHD’s existing Job-to-Job Flows (J2J).

About The University of Texas System
Educating students, providing care for patients, conducting groundbreaking basic, applied and clinical research, and serving the needs of Texans and the nation for more than 130 years, The University of Texas System is one of the largest public university systems in the United States. With 14 institutions and a projected enrollment of more than 234,000 students, the UT System confers more than one-third of the state’s undergraduate degrees, educates approximately two-thirds of the state’s health care professionals annually and accounts for almost 70 percent of all research funds awarded to public institutions in Texas. The UT System’s operating budget for FY 2018 is $18.3 billion, funded in part by $3.6 billion in sponsored programs from federal, state, local and private sources. With more than 20,000 faculty – including Nobel laureates and members of the National Academies – and nearly 80,000 health care professionals, researchers, student advisors and support staff, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.

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Karen Adler: kadler@utsystem.edu • 512-499-4360 (direct) • 210-912-8055 (cell)
Melanie Thompson: mthompson@utsystem.edu • 512-499-4487 (direct) • 832-724-1024 (cell)