Skip to main content

Public Institutions and Low-income students


Note: Visualizations are not mobile friendly.  I recommend a laptop or desktop for viewing this site.

Someone asked me today about what I thought higher education's biggest challenge was, and I said college costs without thinking.  And a few hours later, I still think that, with a twist: College costs for low-income students, especially at public institutions who presumably have a primary mission of educating students of all income levels in their state.

To be sure, costs are too high at private institutions, and many of the trends you'll see here are carried over and amplified in the private sector; but private colleges and universities may exist for different reasons, and that can be hard to capture in a visualization like this.

There are two views here, using the tabs across the top.  The first is a scattergram, arraying almost all 660 US, four-year public colleges and universities that admit freshmen (a few are missing data).  The x-axis shows in-state tuition in 2013, and the y-axis shows net price for freshman students who come from families with incomes of $30,000 or less, and who are paying the in-state tuition, most of whom are presumably in-state residents.  The color shows the percentage of students enrolled who receive a federal Pell grant, a program for very-low income students.

Reference lines show the unweighted, institutional averages, which allows the creation of quadrants, roughly:


  • The upper right, or high tuition, high net cost
  • The lower right, or high tuition, low net cost
  • The lower left, or low tuition and low net cost
  • The upper left, or low tuition, high net cost 

Color here is important: Red dots are those colleges with lower percentages of Pell students; blue dots show higher values, although I've capped the color range at 40%, about the national average, if you include all types of institutions.  It's important because it shows how many students these institutions enroll, not just how well they do at reducing price (if they do.)  In other words, it's a bit easier to do a lot to reduce cost for students if you don't do it for very many; it's harder on your budget if you enroll more.

You can limit the view to states, regions, Land Grant status, or by using the filters to show only institutions with certain admit rates or Pell percentages.  As always, take a look at California.  Well done, California.

The second view shows in-state tuition over time, accompanied by net price for three groups of students who receive aid.  Students from:

  • Families with income of less than $30,000 (gold)
  • Families with income of $30,000 to $48,000 (orange)
  • Families with income of over $110,000 (the highest band reported in IPEDS).  This is in blue.

The bottom chart on the second tab simply turns these numbers into an Net Cost: Tuition ratio.  A value of 1.5, for instance, means that the net price is 1.5 times tuition.  Note the definition of net price:  

Net cost shows all costs associated with cost of attendance, minus grant aid.  For example, a university may have a tuition of $5,000, but a cost of attendance of $17,000 to include housing, meals, transportation, and personal expenses.  If a student receives $10,000 in grant aid, that student's net price is $7,000, which is greater than tuition alone.

As always, hover for details, and use the reset button at lower left if you get stuck. 

What do you see here?  What else would you like to see?




Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Baccalaureate origins of doctoral recipients

Here's a little data for you: 61 years of it, to be precise.  The National Science Foundation publishes its data on US doctoral recipients sliced a variety of ways, including some non-restricted public use files that are aggregated at a high level to protect privacy. The interface is a little quirky, and if you're doing large sets, you need to break it into pieces (this was three extracts of about 20 years each), but it may be worth your time to dive in. I merged the data set with my mega table of IPEDS data, which allows you to look at institutions on a more granular level:  It's not surprising to find that University of Washington graduates have earned more degrees than graduates of Whitman College, for instance.  So, you can filter the data by Carnegie type, region or state, or control, for instance; or you can look at all 61 years, or any range of years between 1958 and 2018 and combine it with broad or specific academic fields using the controls. High school and indep

The Highly Rejective Colleges

If you're not following Akil Bello on Twitter, you should be.  His timeline is filled with great insights about standardized testing, and he takes great effort to point out racism (both subtle and not-so-subtle) in higher education, all while throwing in references to the Knicks and his daughter Enid, making the experience interesting, compelling, and sometimes, fun. Recently, he created the term " highly rejective colleges " as a more apt description for what are otherwise called "highly selective colleges."  As I've said before, a college that admits 15% of applicants really has a rejections office, not an admissions office.  The term appears to have taken off on Twitter, and I hope it will stick. So I took a look at the highly rejectives (really, that's all I'm going to call them from now on) and found some interesting patterns in the data. Take a look:  The 1,132 four-year, private colleges and universities with admissions data in IPEDS are incl

So you think you're going back to the SAT and ACT?

Now that almost every university in the nation has gone test-optional for the 2021 cycle out of necessity, a nagging question remains: How many will go back to requiring tests as soon as it's possible?  No one knows, but some of the announcements some colleges made sounded like the kid who only ate his green beans to get his screen time: They did it, but they sure were not happy about it.  So we have some suspicions about the usual suspects. I don't object to colleges requiring tests, of course, even though I think they're not very helpful, intrinsically biased against certain groups, and a tool of the vain.  You be you, though, and don't let me stop you. However, there is a wild card in all of this: The recent court ruling prohibiting the University of California system from even using--let alone requiring--the SAT or ACT in admissions decisions next fall.  If you remember, the Cal State system had already decided to go test blind, and of course community colleges in