Skip to main content


The last normal year: Freshman Discounts at Private Colleges, 2019

Each year, NACUBO comes out with its discount study .  If you're not a member, you get a nice press release and some pdfs.  Even if you are a member, you only get a chance to buy the study. And that's enough for most people.  But not for the readers of Higher Ed Data Stories, I've found. Let's talk about discount for a minute.  Different colleges talk about it differently, and even with this IPEDS data, it's impossible to be precise.  But discount rate essentially calculates how much of a college's tuition revenue is offered to students as institutional financial aid. But there are some nuances to it.  Let's start with an example.  College X enrolls 1,000 students, and it charges tuition of $40,000.  That means gross revenue is $40,000,000.  If that college offers institutional aid of $10,000,000 to students, its discount rate is 10/40 or 25%.  If it offers $20,000,000 its discount is 20/40 or 50%.  Sounds easy. But the assumption is that this aid is unfunde
Recent posts

A first look at pandemic enrollments

This week our trade publication, The Chronicle of Higher Education took a quick look at changes in enrollment between Fall, 2019, and Fall, 2020.  If you don't work in higher ed, you can read a few stories per month for free with a registration.  If you do, there is no reason you shouldn't be a subscriber. Something happened in the spring of 2019 that might have had a big effect on college enrollment.  But we're never, of course, 100% sure just how much effect it had.  But the subject is fascinating, of course, and I found the Chronicle's overview to be less than fulfilling.  That's OK, of course.  A good report will cause you to have more questions, not fewer. So I went off to the IPEDS data center and downloaded data to look for myself.  My methodology is a little different than CHE's (I included all colleges, whereas they excluded some smaller institutions).  While the overall results are similar, the nuances--those things you find between the cracks are mor

Freshman Migration, 1986 to 2020

(Note: I discovered that in IPEDS, Penn State Main Campus now reports with "The Pennsylvania State University" as one system.  So when you'd look at things over time, Penn State would have data until 2018, and then The Penn....etc would show up in 2020.  I found out Penn State main campus still reports its own data on the website, so I went there, and edited the IPEDS data by hand.  So if you noticed that error, it should be corrected now, but I'm not sure what I'll do in years going forward.) Freshman migration to and from the states is always a favorite visualization of mine, both because I find it a compelling and interesting topic, and because I had a few breakthroughs with calculated variables the first time I tried to do it. If you're a loyal reader, you know what this shows: The number of freshman and their movement between the states.  And if you're a loyal viewer and you use this for your work in your business, please consider supporting the costs

Gender advantages in college admission

This is a companion piece to my last blogpost about enrollment gaps for men and women in US postsecondary education, and it covers another angle of that discussion.  In that post, I talked a little bit about the fact that the trend is a long one, and not a new phenomenon, and casually suggested a few reasons for it (TLDR: Higher education does better when the economy is worse, and there are more opportunities for young men without college degrees in the labor market when the economy heats up.)  It's just a theory, of course, and might be completely wrong. What really caught my eye in the WSJ article was this section: The gender enrollment disparity among nonprofit colleges is widest at private four-year schools, where the proportion of women during the 2020-21 school year grew to an average of 61%, a record high, Clearinghouse data show. Some of the schools extend offers to a higher percentage of male applicants, trying to get a closer balance of men and women. “Is there a thumb o

What happened to the men?

This weekend an article appeared in the Wall Street Journal about the enrollment of young men in colleges across America.  If you don't have a subscription, James Murphy did a good job of summarizing and critiquing the story in this Twitter thread . If you're not proficient on Twitter, you can read the whole thread unrolled here .  The story cites 2020 enrollment data from the National Clearinghouse, which is fast; I only have data from IPEDS which trails a year, but is much more accurate and granular.  There are two important points to make here: Not having data for 2020 means I can't document or leap to conclusions about what happened in 2020; and even if I did have 2020 data, one year's data point and discussions with a handful of people does not a trend make, so I wouldn't leap to conclusions anyway, even if I did have the data. In fact, the trend has been a long time developing and a long time coming.  That it's continuing is hardly surprising to anyone wh

Bachelor's Degrees Awarded, 2019--2020

 Since not much interesting has happened in the last 18 months or so, I decided to take a look at bachelor's degrees awarded in the most recent IPEDS data release. This has always been a popular dashboard with anyone who works with students, and I've had several requests to update it.  While I normally don't do requests, this seems to fill an important void in the college counseling world, so I made an exception. There are three views here: The first ( Find Colleges by Program ) allows you to find which colleges award the most degrees in a specified area, defined either broadly, very broadly, or very narrowly.  It also allows you to only look at the colleges of interest, and even allows you to look at the ethnicity and/or gender of the degree recipients. The big box of orange text explains how to interact; make sure you read it if you're not familiar with Tableau.  Filters with red text change the type of institutions that display; filters with blue text change the stud

Flagships, Land Grants, and Big Public Universities

This is my annual (sort of) look at tuition at public universities across America.  Even when I worked at private universities, this was a topic of interest to me, and it should be for you too. Public universities educate the vast majority of students in the US (and when you add in community colleges, the skew toward publics becomes even more pronounced.)  There are real consequences to an educated population, as I've written about here and here and many other places. There is no definition of "Flagship University" but we can look at Land Grant institutions, of which there are three categories: The institutions chartered as a result of the 1862 Morrill Act; the 1890 institutions, of which many are HBCUs; and the 1990 institutions, which include many Tribal Colleges and community colleges. For this, I've chosen the 1862 land grants, the flagships (see below) and the other large public universities, with enrollments over 20,000 undergraduates in order to get the great