HEat Index, Issue 12 – More FAFSA News, AI & Data Literacy, and Supporting Middle-Class Families

We’re back talking about FAFSA, but this time we’re discussing the most recent fix. We’ll also dive into discussions about aiding the middle class, Google and Gartner focusing on the democratization of AI and data literacy, and the current enrollment environment. 

After reading today’s issue, let us know if your institution has enhanced data literacy in the comments! 


One FAFSA Fix in Place 

From Education Dept. Announces a Long-Awaited FAFSA Fix. But Is It Too Little, Too Late? | The Chronicle of Higher Education   

The Department of Education (ED) has announced a fix that allows students whose parents do not have a Social Security Number to complete the FAFSA.    

Our Thoughts 

The rollout of the new FAFSA has been a disaster for most students, their families, and higher education institutions. We’ve been steadily reporting on it in The HEat Index (Issue 1, Issue 4, Issue 5, & Issue 8) to help ensure our client community is informed.    

This recent update is pivotal because it directly impacts mixed-status families who have been facing significant barriers in accessing financial aid due to technical issues with the FAFSA application process. Resolving these issues is crucial, as financial aid plays a critical role in college access, retention, and completion—particularly for underserved populations. This update helps to ensure that all students, regardless of their background, have equal access to the financial resources necessary for their education.  

Although this correction is a positive development, we are not alone in believing that the Department of Education still has much to do to rebuild trust within the higher education community. We look forward to their continued progress on improving the new FAFSA.  


Support for the Middle Class 

From Middle-class families need support getting into private colleges | University Business  

As the financial strain of higher education prices increasingly impacts middle-class families, some institutions are taking steps to reduce this burden.  

Our Thoughts  

Middle-class families are more likely to consider lower-cost public institutions than estimate if they can afford tuition at a private institution. Why is that the case? Unfortunately, they are stuck in an area where their income is too high to qualify for the Pell Grant, but the high sticker price at many institutions isn’t necessarily affordable for them.   

Historically, financial aid policies have favored lower and higher income brackets, leaving some higher education institutions unaffordable and inaccessible to middle-income families. Specifically, addressing this inequity could help balance or diversify enrollment at institutions. Additionally, this support has the potential to increase enrollment rates and the public’s confidence in higher ed. Considering the current economic conditions, aiding the middle class can have its benefits for both students and institutions.  


Data & AI Literacy Trending for 2024 

From Data Literacy, AI Democratization Top Trends in Data & AI/Analytics for 2024 | Campus Technology   

Democratization of AI and data literacy are top themes in two new reports from Google and Gartner.  

Our Thoughts 

While both reports are drawn from the wider business world, they are applicable to higher education as generative AI continues its disruptive march through the academic landscape. As AI becomes more democratized, it is essential for institutions to cultivate an environment of enhanced data literacy among students, faculty, and staff. This knowledge is vital to remain competitive in a rapidly evolving technological environment, ensuring that graduates are well prepared for the workforce.  

Moreover, the emphasis on AI’s integration into various organizational roles suggests a blurring of traditional boundaries, which can lead to more integrated and interdisciplinary educational approaches. Engaging with these reports can help university leaders strategize on curriculum updates and faculty and staff development programs, ensuring that their institutions remain at the forefront of educational and technological advancements. 


An Enrollment Challenge Explainer 

From On Enrollment Turbulence, It’s the Combination of Effects | On Ed Tech   

Phil Hill provides an overview of the compounding factors contributing to the current enrollment environment.    

Our Thoughts 

Phi Hill writes an excellent newsletter that may be unknown to many readers (but we highly recommend it). In this edition, he outlines the interconnected challenges affecting US higher education enrollment, detailing the multifaceted factors from both internal and external forces. With the FAFSA complications and regulatory actions posing additional threats to future enrollments, understanding this broader context is crucial for institutions planning to navigate these tumultuous times effectively.   

His article provides a comprehensive analysis for those unfamiliar with the complex puzzle that is enrollment management. Additionally, this analysis should aid in strategic planning and anticipation of enrollment trends, making it a critical read for those involved in university planning or policy making.

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.

Marketing Coordinator at Evisions

Maya Kvesic is the Marketing Coordinator with Evisions, based in southern California.  A proud graduate of California State University Long Beach, she earned her B.A. in psychology in 2023 but has always had a passion for writing. Beyond the world of marketing, Maya finds joy in outdoor activities and finding new places to eat.

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