HEat Index, Issue 5 – FAFSA Data, Unified Data Models, and the Value of College



Some institutions are finally beginning to receive FAFSA data! While we recognize there is still a long road ahead, we feel this is positive progress worthy of acknowledgement. 🎉 We also spent some time diving into a new report from EDUCAUSE that was specifically created to help address the urgent data needs on many campuses.  

After reading today’s issue, let us know what your institutional plans are for unifying your data in the comments! 


FAFSA Data Finally Being Sent 

From Education Department starts sending financial aid data to colleges after months of delays | AP News   

The Department of Education has reported that they have sent the first round of FAFSA student data to a few dozen institutions as of Sunday and will continue to expand the number of institutions included in the data transmission.   

Our Thoughts 

Although it is only the beginning of the long road ahead related to financial aid packaging and students eventually enrolling in college, it is promising that The Department of Education is finally sending some FAFSA student data to select institutions. Hopefully, they’ll move quickly on a complete transmission of FAFSA data to all institutions lest some institutions feel they have been further disadvantaged.   

With FAFSA submissions down 34% and mixed-status families still unable to complete the application, the impacts of the new FAFSA will continue to disrupt the enrollment strategies for many 4-year institutions. This, combined with increasing public skepticism about higher education, may result in overall Fall 2024 enrollments falling, a further blow to the already precarious financial situation of some institutions. 


Unified Data Models for Higher Education

From 2024 EDUCAUSE Horizon Action Plan: Unified Data Models | EDUCAUSE Library   

This report builds on the trends, technologies, practices, and scenarios described in the 2023 EDUCAUSE Horizon Report: Holistic Student Experience Edition, and offers up a collaboratively generated description of our panelists’ preferred future of unified data models in higher education.   

Our Thoughts 

EDUCAUSE has been on fire recently with the timeliness and relevance of their reports. As a company that specializes in ensuring institutions have access to the trusted data and information needed to best operate, this report on unified data models was right up our alley.   

Reading this report will help our higher ed colleagues understand and implement unified data models to make data-driven decisions that enhance student success, improve data governance, and increase operational efficiency. Because it is an action-oriented report, it offers accessible steps for implementing data models on your campus as well as an action roadmap worksheet for putting your ideas into practice.   

The importance of having accurate and accessible data to help solve the problems facing higher education institutions should not be underestimated. This guide is an excellent starting point for such an endeavor.  


More Doubts About the Value of College 

From Doubts about value are deterring college enrollment | Inside Higher Ed   

A new study finds that prospective students are skeptical about whether a college degree is worth the cost when compared to other options but are still amenable to influence about enrolling.    

Our Thoughts 

Another study (see HEat Index, Issue 2 for more) demonstrating increased public skepticism about college degrees is not the news we’d hope for, but the information contained within is still quite valuable for a couple of reasons.   

First, it highlights specific areas of concern for prospective students such as debt, return on investment, and stress. Despite economic evidence demonstrating the benefits of a college degree, many students are considering alternate education paths, and institutions could directly address these concerns in communications about the true value and outcomes of higher education.   

Second, this study separates the responses of high school students from adults who do not have a college degree. This gives institutions an opportunity to better understand what messaging is needed if they hope to attract specific populations of prospective students. Taken together, this is an opportunity for institutions to demonstrate they are worth their costs.  

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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