Higher education is in financial crisis. The price of tuition for a four-year university degree increases each year while the annual income of families with college-aged students remains mostly unchanged. This crisis signals upcoming dramatic shifts; data analysis and predictive modeling can help your institution retain more students for the duration of their four-year degrees in the face of the altered financial terrain. Models from SightLine provide intelligent financial practices that your University can adopt to wisely and successfully face the changing tidal landscape of tuition and enrollment.
In the last decade, college became a third more expensive while the average family’s wealth experienced no growth. Even the top one percent of income earners can not compete with the rate at which college tuition rises. In addition, state funding for student tuition costs barely grew; tuition is rising without sufficient means for families and students to compensate for the increase. What gives? Where do we see the change? In loss of student population? No, in student debt. The average student loan debt for the class of 2017 is $39,400. Nationally, total student loan debt exceeds $1.3 trillion. These numbers are staggering; as students and their parents understand the reality of the costs of higher education, they fairly have the right to weigh the benefits of a traditional four-year degree at public institutions.
In this climate of expected student debt, students may turn to options that may appear more fiscally responsible and attractive; for example, they may choose to enroll in online degree programs, distance education, or two year programs instead of traditional four-year Bachelor’s degrees.
With students considering their options, SightLine predicts that Universities will face fierce competition to enroll students for four-year degrees. Moreover, the number of high school graduates is expected to decrease in the next two decades. This competition is the ideal arena for the financial landscape of higher education to shapeshift, essentially growing into a new, more responsible and mindful, era -- one that equally benefits students and Universities through conscious evolution. SightLine has the tools to aid and buoy institutions through this time of transition.
Not only is the financial landscape of higher education changing dramatically, but so is the student population at public Universities. According to SightLine’s analysis, more students who are the first person in their family to attend college will enroll in four-year degree programs. Stay tuned to the future articles which will discuss how Universities can benefit from predictive modeling and data analysis to adapt successfully to the tidal shifts in student population and how to alchemize the financial desert into an oasis.