Using Data to Address College Affordability

February 3, 2020

Share this

Title: Communities of Practice: Developing Financial Aid Metrics in State Data Systems

Authors: Eric Godin

Source: State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO)

With increasing attention on college affordability, a new report from SHEEO highlights important trends and developments in how states collect and report on postsecondary financial aid data.

The report draws from SHEEO’s ongoing Communities of Practice Project, which convenes postsecondary data teams from state agencies across the country to identify common challenges in data collection. The project provides an opportunity for discussion among  teams on how to make data more informative and actionable to improve student outcomes.

The report provides an overview of the current state of financial aid data and its use at the state level. It discusses the challenges and opportunities posed by the ambiguity in the term ‘affordability,’ highlights examples of innovative financial aid programs, and advocates for disaggregating data by student subpopulation as a way to identify equity issues.

It concludes with case studies of Minnesota and Ohio. These studies provide insight into financial aid data considerations and use.

  • The Minnesota case study focuses on the issues states contend with when attempting to define college affordability.
  • The Ohio case study describes a partnership between the state data team and local school districts that helps schools understand which students have completed the FAFSA so they can target resources towards those who have not completed their application.

To the full report, please click here.

—Charles Sanchez


If you have any questions or comments about this blog post, please contact us.

Keep Reading

How Should We Think About College Affordability?

Before colleges can constructively evaluate and improve their pricing and financial aid policies, they should have a solid understanding of what should go into determining how realistic it is for students and families in different circumstances to pay for the education offered, writes the Urban Institute’s Sandy Baum.

May 16, 2017

The Price We Pay for Bad Data on College Costs

Matthew Soldner of the American Institutes for Research writes about three things senior leaders need to know as they navigate the challenges facing their campuses: institutional spending, and how spending relates to cost and student outcomes. The first post in a series introducing three background papers prepared for a roundtable on financial data in higher education.

April 27, 2016

The Success of College Unbound

Four higher education leaders look at College Unbound’s learner-centered, student-driven approach to higher education and the institution’s 10-year journey through regional accreditation.

November 13, 2019