Throughout 2021, the SightLine data science team worked with Arkansas Tech University and Grand Valley State University on student enrollment challenges, during a time of historical nationwide declining higher-ed enrollment. Both universities realized the need to convert to test optional or even test blind scholarship criteria. Commendably, both also prioritized supporting underserved students at their institution.
During the first year of implementing SightLine’s recommendations, Arkansas Tech successfully increased first-year student enrollment by 4.2% overall. Grand Valley also achieved an 3% increase in first-year students and an 8% increase in transfer student enrollment.
Grand Valley is also celebrating enrolling their most diverse class yet. They achieved a 23.4% increase in enrollment for students of color, a 28.4% increase in first generation students, and a 24.4% increase in low-income or Pell-eligible students.
SightLine worked closely with both universities to understand their prior scholarship structures, awarding policies and procedures, current and future strategic initiatives, and the student body they aim to enroll and retain.
SightLine used university specific data to create student enrollment models, and then tested hundreds of scholarship award structures with simulations. This allows SightLine and the university teams to understand how changing scholarship criteria and amounts would impact enrollment and overall university sustainability.
Ultimately, both universities were able to select new merit-based scholarship structures that would not be based on test scores from the ACT and SAT. This made scholarships more accessible and information more transparent to a broader base of students.
Arkansas Tech also introduced additional scholarships to support first generation students, low-income students, and students with family members who are also enrolled at the university.
We look forward to continue our support to colleges and universities to make college prices and scholarships more accessible and transparent to enroll and support more students of all backgrounds.