By the 2015–16 award year, a college ranking system, known as the Postsecondary Institution Ratings System (PIRS), will likely be in place to evaluate institutions on a number of factors. While it has not yet been determined what metrics will be used for evaluation, possibilities include: number of students receiving the Federal Pell Grant, average cost of attendance, student loan debt, graduation and transfer rates, and commitment to access and diversity. The goal of PIRS is to tie institutional allocation of financial aid funds to these ratings by 2018.
NASFAA leadership asked the Access and Diversity Committee (ADC) to conduct research on the feasibility of such an approach and to determine if there are tools currently available to assist an institution with their own evaluation prior to the development and implementation of a Federal rating tool.
With the goal of informing how access and diversity might be measured in such a system, the information discussed in this paper reflects the challenges of defining diversity, what the research says about access, what schools are currently doing and the tools that are available to assist an institution with their own assessment of their commitment to access and diversity.
This paper argues that a self-evaluation guide, developed by NASFAA and its members, could be a useful tool for campus administrators who have the time and resources to benefit from it. In addition, utilizing the self-evaluation guide to give a preliminary view of PIRS rankings would be especially relevant and timely for campuses.