HEat Index, Issue 4 – FAFSA Deep Dive, IT Workforce Insights, and Admissions Trends



This week, we take a deep look at what happened during the launch of the new FAFSA, which has significantly impacted the enrollment management strategies of many institutions and left too many students wondering if they can afford to attend college this fall. From there, we discuss overwork and burnout in IT divisions based upon the findings of the latest EDUCAUSE report.   

After reading today’s issue, let us know your thoughts on the EDUCAUSE IT Leadership Workforce report in the comments! 


Understanding How the New FAFSA Launch Stumbled 

From How ambitious plans for a new FAFSA ended in a fiasco | Inside Higher Ed   

An Inside Higher Ed review of public documents coupled with expert interviews reveals that a mix of political battles, misplaced priorities, and questionable decisions snarled the Department of Education’s best laid plans for the rollout of the new FAFSA.   

Our Thoughts 

We’ve been reporting on FAFSA delays since our first HEat Index issue (and following the news prior to that). If you’re seeking a good summary of what happened, this investigative piece from Inside Higher Ed is an excellent start. It offers a balanced view of the various arguments about what went wrong, concluding “there is more than enough blame to go around.” Additionally, it highlights the challenges of undertaking such a massive and complex overhaul of the FAFSA (e.g., it was originally written in COBOL).

This FAFSA debacle has significantly affected students, especially low-income and first-generation students, as paying for college is an often-cited barrier for these populations. Additionally, Fitch Ratings has indicated that the FAFSA delays have put increased pressure on parts of the sector, with smaller private colleges most at risk. With FAFSA submissions down more than 40% this year, the potential for decreased enrollment could ripple through the finances of these institutions for years. 


Report on Higher Ed IT Workforce 

From The IT Leadership Workforce in Higher Education, 2024 | EDUCAUSE Library  

The newly released report seeks to map the current contours of the technology leader workforce, understand its current challenges and opportunities, and reflect on what it all might mean for building a stronger workforce and—ultimately—a stronger higher education for the future. 

Our Thoughts 

Yes, we are featuring another report. Not just because we find tremendous value in these reports, but because this report offers specific insights into the experiences of our colleagues in IT.   

Although the findings indicate that hiring challenges may be declining, higher ed IT employs are still experiencing high levels of burnout and increasing workloads, with flat or shrinking budgets for their departments. Unsurprisingly, these results on burnout closely mirror the findings from an earlier EDUCAUSE report, The Teaching and Learning Workforce in Higher Education, 2024, indicating a continuing overall trend for the higher education industry.  

The higher education sector is undergoing dramatic shifts in operations and increasingly relying on technology to solve problems and remain competitive. As IT units are often a rich source of institutional knowledge, addressing feelings of overwork and burnout will be paramount to ensuring institutional resiliency to weather future challenges. 


Trends Shaping Admissions in 2024 

From The 4 trends shaping the admissions process in 2024, per report | University Business  

Acuity Insights, an admissions management service, has identified four key trends that they believe will shape the admissions landscape this year based upon the feedback of both incoming students and current admissions professionals.  

Our Thoughts 

It has been a challenging year for our colleagues in admissions and enrollment management. Between FAFSA delays, the Supreme Court ruling, increased public skepticism of higher education, and staffing challenges, meeting their institution’s enrollment goals for this year will be an achievement worthy of recognition.   

For those who work in admissions, the four trends identified by Acuity Insights will not be surprising. However, if this topic is new to you, it’s a good introduction to the probable future in admissions and enrollment management. In addition to an overview, the report also equips admissions leaders with practical advice regarding ways they can address these issues and prepare their institutions for a potentially capricious and erratic enrollment management future.

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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