HEat Index, Issue 1: FAFSA delays, College Transparency Act, and SIS adoption

02/15/2024

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Hello there! Welcome to the first post of our new blog series, the HEat Index, providing you with a quick look at the hot topics in higher education news that we’re reading here at Evisions each week. We know there are dozens of sources for higher education news, and with so many tasks and projects competing for your time, it can feel challenging to stay up to date, or if you’re new to higher ed, even know where to start. So, in the tradition of our much beloved Support, Professional Services, and CET teams, we’re here to help!

Each week, we’ll highlight 3-4 higher education stories we found interesting or impactful to our work, providing you with some light commentary about why we think the article we’re sharing is worth your time. Let us know what you think of our new blog series in the comments and happy reading! (Click on the headers to read the full articles.)

 

Amid FAFSA Delays, Education Dept. Will Reduce Verification Requirements for Aid Applicants | The Chronicle of Higher Education 

The new Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) rollout has been plagued with challenges, so the Department of Education is temporarily relaxing administrative requirements to assist colleges dealing with a condensed financial aid schedule. 

Our thoughts

Hopefully, relaxing these requirements will give our friends in financial aid offices, who are already stretched thin, a little space to focus more on their students. Additionally, reducing verification requirements should have a positive impact on low-income students, some of whom often struggle with the verification process and have already been negatively impacted by the glitchy new FAFSA rollout.

Will these changes help four-year institutions overcome the anticipated enrollment challenges caused by delayed FAFSA processing and distribution of award letters? That remains to be seen.

As we learn more about the new calculations and data formats, we’ll see if there are any new DataBlocks we can provide in the CO-OP to assist.  

 

Potential breakthrough on federal student data system in U.S. | Inside Higher Ed 

The proposed bipartisan College Transparency Act (CTA), which allows the federal government to collect student-level data to enhance our understanding of higher education’s value for students and families, may soon gain Congressional approval.  

Our thoughts

With so many people currently questioning the return on investment for higher education, being able to answer questions about it using national, standardized data would be a positive step. However, there are serious concerns about the CTA as proposed as it omits some students from data collection if they did not receive federal assistance (student aid, veteran’s benefits, etc.), meaning people could draw conclusions from incomplete data.

While some individuals are concerned about student privacy, the CTA can be drafted to safeguard student data while ensuring we have robust data on student outcomes to inform future policy and help students make informed decisions about higher education enrollment. Since the CTA potentially involves sending a new data extract to the federal government, we’ll be keeping a close eye on this as it develops. 

 

2024 EDUCAUSE AI Landscape Study | EDUCAUSE 

This inaugural report summarizes the higher education community’s current sentiments and experiences related to strategic planning and readiness, policies and procedures, workforce, and the future of AI in higher education. 

Our thoughts

We love EDUCAUSE reports as they provide so much insight into institutional thoughts around specific themes. With AI being such a hot topic, this report is especially relevant as it provides critical insights into the integration and impact of AI in higher education and can help institutions understand how their AI initiatives align with the overall industry. The differences between executive leaders and general staff attitudes towards AI are fascinating and indicate potential challenges with acceptance and adoption of institutional AI initiatives.

Finally, with many institutions rapidly working on AI initiatives to remain competitive in an evolving higher education landscape, this work has been rolled into existing positions, something leaders should closely monitor to prevent possible burnout of faculty and staff.  

 

Breaking the Mold: A Fresh Perspective on Forecasting Technology Implementation Trends | ListEdTech 

Employing a variety of statistical approaches, James Wiley determines which product categories influence trends in SIS adoptions and uses this to make predictions about future Ellucian SIS implementations.  

Our thoughts

Due to the completeness of their database, ListEdTech can do some interesting analyses on higher education technology adoption. In addition to providing a forecast for Ellucian SIS adoptions (something we’re interested in as one of their strategic partners), Wiley’s post also demonstrates how interconnected technology trends can significantly influence the success and market share of various SIS products. By understanding these trends, your institution can make more informed decisions about future SIS upgrades or implementations.

Furthermore, the analysis supports the concept of including diverse and broad perspectives when making technology-related decisions at your institution due to the perhaps unseen interconnected relationships between various software implementations. 

Allen Taylor
Allen Taylor
Senior Solutions Ambassador at Evisions

Allen Taylor is a self-proclaimed higher education and data science nerd. He currently serves as a Senior Solutions Ambassador at Evisions and is based out of Pennsylvania. With over 20 years of higher education experience at numerous public, private, small, and large institutions, Allen has successfully lead institution-wide initiatives in areas such as student success, enrollment management, advising, and technology and has presented at national and regional conferences on his experiences. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Anthropology from Western Carolina University, a Master of Science degree in College Student Personnel from The University of Tennessee, and is currently pursuing a PhD in Teaching, Learning, and Technology from Lehigh University. When he’s trying to avoid working on his dissertation, you can find him exploring the outdoors, traveling at home and abroad, or in the kitchen trying to coax an even better loaf of bread from the oven.

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