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The Structure of Higher Education

Assignment Requirements
1 The main text of the paper should be about 5-6 pages, with tables and charts as necessary (tables and charts do not count toward the page limit).
2 The due date for the paper is November 12.
3 This assignment is a short quantitative project where you are asked to throw light on a topic of interest to policymakers, bringing data to bear upon the issue. I have chosen the following topic, which consists of highlighting recent trends in tuition and enrollments at a public flagship university. As you will see, this is becoming more and more important in public discourse, as selective public universities seek to balance declining state aid with their objective of ensuring widespread access to higher education.. ( focusing more on evidence based on aggregated data, which would be likely to be true on average. Generally speaking, you should avoid answering questions based on personal experience or beliefs rather than academic evidence)
1)Briefly describe the structure of higher education – focusing mostly on the public sector – in the state of New York. (You should be able to find all or most of this information online – just visit the state education department (NYSED) website, or the Regents website, or Wikipedia or do a simple search.[1]) I do not want a comprehensive description – just mention the public flagship institution, total enrollment in the public flagship institution compared to other 4-year and 2-year public colleges (which would indicate importance of the flagship institution within the state), etc.
Note that New York might consider more than one of the SUNY’s as flagships. For example, the Rizzo and Ehrenberg paper considers both SUNY-Albany and SUNY-Buffalo as flagships, but the two Education Trust reports (Engines of Inequality and Opportunity Adrift) consider SUNY-Buffalo as the flagship. (Other reports sometimes include SUNY-Binghamton as the flagship).
For purposes of this assignment, consider SUNY-Albany as the flagship. 
2)Describe what has been happening to state appropriations, tuition (both in-state and out-of-state) and student aid at SUNY-Albany. Begin with the mid-1990s or late 1990s, and go on to as far in the recent past – say 2009, 2010 or 2011 – as you get data on.
3)Describe what has been happening to student enrollment at SUNY-Albany. Disaggregate student enrollment in terms of in-state students and out-of-students, and in terms of demographic characteristics like race/ethnicity, income and parental education (depending on data availability).
4)What do you think will happen to student enrollment, and to student composition, now that SUNY has increased its tuition? See the two references listed at the end of the assignment.
5)Discuss your findings in view of the analyses in the papers listed below – the Rizzo and Ehrenberg paper, the two Education Trust publications, and the McDuff paper (skip the technical details, particularly in the Rizzo-Ehrenberg and McDuff papers). Feel free to use any other paper you think is relevant – the above-mentioned papers also have some references.
6) Suppose you are the “enrollment manager” at SUNY-Albany. What would you do? (Hint: For what enrollment managers do, read the Fallows commentary in The Atlantic, as well as the articles I have pasted at the end of this assignment.
Many of the data can be obtained from the IPEDS – the Integrated Post-Secondary Education Data System – which is maintained by the U.S. Department of Education. Feel free to supplement it with other data that you may like to use – the papers mentioned above will tell where to get them. The IPEDS website is not the most user-friendly, but start here – http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/datacenter/login.aspx. I will soon send a follow-up mail where you will get detailed instructions about how to download data from the IPEDS.
Another good and easy source of data is the Federal Education Budget Project website maintained by the New America Foundation (http://febp.newamerica.net/). Once on this page, you can type in the name of any higher education institution, and you can get a lot of important summary measures for the most recent years.
A version of the Rizzo-Ehrenberg paper, as well as the two Ed Trust papers, can easily be downloaded – the URLs are given below. The McDuff paper is uploaded in Blackboard (under Assignments folder).
References for general reading:
Rizzo, Mike and Ronald G. Ehrenberg, Resident and Nonresident Tuition and Enrollment at Flagship State Universities, in Hoxby, C. (ed.), (2004) College Choice: The Economics of Where to Go, When to Go, and How to Pay for It. NBER. University Of Chicago Press, October, 2004.
McDuff, DeForest (2007). Quality, Tuition and Applications to In-State Public Colleges. Economics of Education Review, Volume 26, Issue 4 (August), pages 433-449.
Gerald, Danette and Kati Haycock (2006). Engines of Inequality: Diminishing Equity in the Nation’s Premier Public Universities. The Education Trust, Washington DC.
Haycock, Kati, Mary Lynch and Jennifer Engle (2010). Opportunity Adrift: Our Flagship Universities Are Straying From Their Public Mission. The Education Trust, Washington DC.
References for SUNY tuition increase:
The proposal from the Board of Trustees: http://www.suny.edu/Board_of_Trustees/webcastdocs/TuitionProposal.pdf

For SUNY and CUNY, Top Lawmakers Support Plan to Raise Tuition $300 a Year
Published: June 22, 2011
For decades, leaders of the City University of New York and the State University of New York have chafed under the whims of state lawmakers who approved double-digit tuition increases in some years and none in others, leaving administrators struggling to make ends meet with little ability to plan ahead.
But in what some university officials and faculty members are hailing as a major victory, legislative leaders in Albany agreed on Tuesday to a policy that would, for the first time, set a fixed rate for tuition increases: $300 annually for the next five years. In the first year alone, the increase is expected to create an additional $50 million in revenue for CUNY, and $40 million for SUNY.
“The last thing you want in higher education is large, unexpected increases that families cannot anticipate,” said Jay Hershenson, senior vice chancellor for university relations at CUNY.
The agreement, which the full Legislature must vote on before it becomes law, would require that all of the money raised from the tuition increases go directly to the universities, according to lawmakers and their aides. In the past, some of the revenue from tuition increases has been used for other state programs. The agreement also calls for state aid to the universities to be maintained at current levels, unless the governor declares a fiscal emergency.
“Across the country, states have been cutting their university systems,” said Assemblywoman Deborah J. Glick, a Democrat from Manhattan and chairwoman of the Assembly Higher Education Committee. “I think this will stanch the bleeding and begin the rebuilding of what is two great university systems.”
Ms. Glick said the new policy would promote stability not only in the universities, but also in the surrounding communities. “This is investing in our human capital,” she said. “People who go to SUNY and CUNY overwhelmingly remain in the state.”
The increase would affect 136,084 CUNY undergraduates on 11 campuses, including the City College of New York and Hunter College in Manhattan, as well as 909 students taking online classes, CUNY officials said. The current tuition is $4,830 annually for full-time New York residents.
CUNY last raised tuition, by $230, in January, to help offset a nearly $300 million reduction in state aid since 2008 — a loss that brought state financing down to about $1 billion annually, according to university officials.
At SUNY, the increase would affect more than 220,000 students at 29 four-year colleges across the state, including campuses at Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Old Westbury, Purchase and Stony Brook. The current tuition is $4,970; it was last increased, by $310, in 2009. SUNY officials have said the additional money would be used to decrease class sizes, hire more full-time faculty and maintain existing classes and programs.
Leaders at CUNY and SUNY said they would seek to help students eligible for state tuition assistance by covering all or part of the increase, based on the amount of aid each person currently receives. But some students worried that a $1,500 increase over five years would put college out of reach for many people.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” said Cory Provost, a recent Brooklyn College graduate who is chairman of CUNY’s Student Senate. “Families and students are in a bind because of the economy, and trying to fix the state budget by forcing students to pay more money isn’t going to fix the problem.”
But Kaitlyn Beachner, president of the SUNY Student Assembly, said the unpredictable tuition increases in past years had also been difficult for students. While some students are opposed to any increase, she said, the Student Assembly passed a resolution in 2008 calling for a rational tuition plan that would allow increases of no more than 5.5 percent per year. “We want students to know freshman year how much they would be paying for their education,” she said.
CUNY enrollment hits all-time high this fall as officials cite affordability
Roughly 274,031 students are enrolled at City University of New York’s 24 schools for the fall, an increase of more than 40% from 2000, university officials said. Annual tuition is $4,500 for the community colleges and $6,030 for the senior colleges — a bargain compared with private universities.
BY Ben Chapman, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Record numbers of students are flocking to get an education at the City University of New York, new statistics obtained by the Daily News show.
Roughly 274,031 students are enrolled at CUNY schools for the fall, an all-time high that represents an increase of more than 40% from 2000, when 195,000 students signed up for fall classes, university officials said.
City University Chancellor James Milliken said the growing numbers reflect students’ desire for a quality education at a lower cost than other local colleges.
“CUNY is attracting record-breaking numbers of qualified students because we offer degrees of value that are affordable without many years of debt,” said Milliken. “Our historic commitment to provide access to high-quality educational opportunities is stronger than ever.”
CUNY operates 24 colleges and professional schools in the five boroughs. Annual tuition is $4,500 for the community colleges and $6,030 for the senior colleges.
That’s a bargain compared with local private universities, where tuition and fees often max out at more than $40,000 for a single year of instruction.
Nearly 60% of CUNY’s full-time undergraduates attend college without paying tuition at all, thanks to federal Pell Grants, state tuition assistance and CUNY financial aid, CUNY officials said. Eighty percent of graduates earn a diploma with no student loan debt.
In this unpredictable economy, university officials said, CUNY’s affordability is driving up demand.
Freshman enrollment for 2014 jumped to a record 38,000 across the CUNY system. Last year, 35,622 first-year students signed up.
There are also more well-prepared high school graduates choosing CUNY, officials said, with the number of 2014 applicants with averages of 85 or better increasing by 4.2%.
George Washington University Rejected Students Simply Because They Were Too Poor
A report finds that the university told applicants that money didn’t matter even as they explicitly accepted students on the basis of income.
Jordan WeissmannOct 22 2013, 1:47 PM ET
For years, George Washington University, one of the country’s most expensive colleges, promised families they didn’t consider income in the admissions process while secretly rejecting students who couldn’t afford tuition.
That was the upshot of a Monday article in the The GW Hatchet that, as Inside Higher Ed delicately put it, has left the the university “rushing to explain itself.” Until last week, the school claimed be “need-blind,” meaning that it supposedly admitted applicants no matter how much tuition they could afford to pay. In fact, the university’s admissions office had been taking financial need into account all along. The school has now officially rebranded itself as “need-aware.”
Here’s how Laurie Koehler, the GW’s new provost for enrollment management, described their process:
“We have our internal preliminary decision of admit or waitlist or deny, and then we run the numbers and then we go, ‘Okay, we have to do a little bit of shuffling here,’” Koehler said. She said the decision only impacts students who are not among GW’s top applicants.
A more straightforward way to put it is this: First the admissions office picks a class based on merit. Then they move some financially needy applicants to the waitlist, which all but amounts to a rejection, and admit richer applicants in their place to make the books balance. Some schools have openly defended this approach by arguing that it allows them to offer fuller financial-aid packages to the lower-income students they do admit. That’s the line GW is adopting now, and it may or may not be true. At the very least, their approach is less ethically disturbing than the widespread practice of “gapping,” where schools admit students on a need blind basis, but frequently award them a financial aid package that’s too small, sometimes with the express purpose of discouraging them from attending. Kids who fail to take the hint just sink deeper into debt.


But don’t let that dull your outrage at GW. Students wasted their time and (if the school didn’t waive their fee) wasted their money by applying under the mistaken impression that the university didn’t care about their family’s bank account. It also seems to have been part of a pattern. As Inside Higher Ed notes, these new revelations come less than a year after the school admitted to submitting false data to U.S. News & World Report’s college rankings. (Afterwards, the school’s dean of undergraduate admissions retired, and admissions office was restructured).
Finally, this incident is also symptomatic of a wider sickness in higher education: the mania for prestige. Even while it’s freezing out poorer qualified applicants, the university continues using “merit aid” to recruit desirable students who might be able to pay their own way. GW isn’t alone in that practice. It just got caught covering it up.

GW misrepresented admissions and financial aid policy for years

GW misrepresented admissions and financial aid policy for years
by Jeremy Diamond | Assistant News Editor
Issue: October 21, 2013| News
The University admitted publicly for the first time Friday that it puts hundreds of undergraduate applicants on its waitlist each year because they cannot pay GW’s tuition.
Administrators now say the admissions process has always factored in financial need. But that contradicts messaging from the admissions and financial aid offices that, as recently as Saturday, have regularly attested that the University remained need-blind.
Students who meet GW’s admissions standards, but are not among the top applicants, can shift from “admitted” to “waitlisted” if they need more financial support from GW. These decisions affect up to 10 percent of GW’s roughly 22,000 applicants each year, said Laurie Koehler, the newly hired associate provost for enrollment management.
Admissions representatives do not consider financial need during the first round of reading applications. But before applicants are notified, the University examines its financial aid budget and decides which students it can actually afford to admit.
Without knowing, wealthier students who were slated to land on the waitlist are accepted, taking the spots of students who would need more financial aid from GW.
The quiet move away from declaring a “need-blind” policy came to light during an interview Friday with Koehler, who began reshaping practices of both the admissions and financial aid offices this summer.
But as recently as Saturday, admissions representatives told prospective students in an information session that their applications would be judged without glancing at their financial aid profiles. And until it was removed Saturday evening, the undergraduate admissions website read, “Requests for financial aid do not affect admissions decisions.” That webpage now explains GW’s “need-aware” policy.
Zakaree Harris, who reviewed applications at GW as assistant director of undergraduate admissions from 2007 to 2010, said he knew that senior admissions officials reviewed applications after he and his colleagues selected their choice of applicants. But he said he never knew that those officials weighed financial aid.
“Our policies, and even information that we were giving to families, were always about being need-blind in our process,” Harris said. “I do not recall and do not remember ever having a conversation about the specific nature of someone needing X amount of dollars and us making an admissions decision based upon that.”
Associate Vice President for Financial Assistance Dan Small and the since-retired Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Kathryn Napper both acknowledged the University’s commitment to need-blind admissions within the last two years.
“We’re still looking for students who will fit in well here. We’re still need-blind,” Napper said in an interview in October 2011.
But on Friday, Small confirmed that GW’s admissions policy does in fact consider a student’s financial need.
“By being need-aware, GW is better able to stay within its aid budget allotment as well as provide better aid packages for those students with financial need,” Small said.
Setting the record straight
The confession comes at a time when more colleges are taking financial need into account when awarding acceptance letters. Admissions and financial aid experts said that consideration gives universities more control over meeting financial and enrollment goals.
Koehler emphasized that a student’s financial need does not become a factor until after admissions representatives reach their initial conclusions.
“We have our internal preliminary decision of admit or waitlist or deny, and then we run the numbers and then we go, ‘Okay, we have to do a little bit of shuffling here,’” Koehler said. She said the decision only impacts students who are not among GW’s top applicants.
But for hundreds of students each year, those second-round decisions turn an acceptance into an almost-certain rejection. In 2012, less than 1 percent of students offered a spot on the waitlist got into GW.
Several admissions and financial aid experts said GW’s admissions policy should not have been characterized as need-blind.
Richard Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, called GW’s past claims “dishonest.”
“It’s misleading,” said Vedder, who is also an economics professor at the Ohio University. “Need-blind would mean, ‘We don’t pay a bit of attention to financial considerations in making admissions decisions,’ and GW clearly does.”
University spokeswoman Candace Smith argued that GW’s characterization of the University’s admission policy as need-blind or need-aware was not “intentionally misleading.”
“It’s still the same process, but it’s a matter of one person defining it one way and one person defining it another way,” Smith said.
She pointed to the departure of Napper, the former admissions dean, who was previously in charge of GW’s communication with prospective students, as opening up an opportunity for GW to change its definition.
Napper retired last December, just a month after her office admitted it sent incorrect admissions data to U.S. News & World Report, leading to GW’s removal from the prestigious college rankings.
Stacking up against the competition
GW is an outlier among several peer institutions that are sticking to need-blind admissions. Only four of the 14 universities GW considers its peers call themselves need-aware.
Vedder wasn’t surprised to learn that GW considers financial need during the application process. While a need-blind admissions strategy tends to play favorably with prospective students and when soliciting donations from alumni, GW’s $1.37 billion endowment isn’t large enough to ignore the financial need of applicants, he said.
“It kind of sounds like they’re trying to have their cake and eat it too,” Vedder said.
The University’s endowment pales in comparison to many colleges that are need-blind and meet 100 percent of student’s need, such as Northwestern University, with its $7.1 billion endowment.
Other peer schools, like New York and Boston universities, also do not consider students’ financial need in the admissions process, but, like GW, don’t meet students’ full financial need.
Last year, GW and BU met an average of 88 and 89 percent of student’s demonstrated financial aid, respectively, compared to NYU which helped finance 55 percent of students’ financial need.
Koehler said considering financial aid in admissions means the University can help more students afford to attend GW.
The impact of admissions policies
Experts disagree whether prospective students and families with lower earnings would be turned off by need-aware practices.
After decades of need-blind admissions, Vassar College began considering financial need in the mid-1990s. It returned to a need-blind policy in 2007.
Vassar spokesman Jeff Kosmacher said the college’s new president brought back the admissions model that ignored students’ ability to pay as the university sought to recruit more socioeconomically diverse students.
“When we went to need-blind, we were inviting students who might not have otherwise thought that we were a choice for them,” Kosmacher said.
After GW’s top financial aid and admissions officials owned up to its need-aware policy this week, Koehler said she will begin addressing the way the policies are communicated by admissions representatives.
But at the end of an information session this weekend, a woman raised her hand to ask an admissions representative whether GW is a need-blind institution. The representative did not explain that financial need is considered after the initial review process, instead replying: “The read is need-blind.”
– Sarah Ferris contributed to this report.
This post was updated on Oct. 22, 2013 to reflect the following:
Clarification appended
The Hatchet reported that Associate Vice President for Financial Assistance Dan Small reaffirmed GW’s need-blind policy over the last two years. He never explicitly stated that GW is need-blind, but did not correct the record when the topic came up in interviews.
[1]As an example from Virginia, this website gives the list of all public institutions in that state – http://www.schev.edu/Students/PublicCollegeList.asp.
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