The National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) and the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) on Sunday hosted a session showcasing their "Under the Hood" web-based tool, which allows financial aid administrators to track and compare different financial aid metrics against peer institutions.
The three-year project set out to develop different metrics that higher education presidents, trustees, chief business officers, and financial aid administrators can use to have more comprehensive discussions about their institutional aid policies and other financial aid-related issues. Campus leaders could discuss, for example, whether their practices fit with their school’s mission, or whether the school’s share of need-based grants is dissimilar to its peer institutions.
NACUBO used data from both IPEDS and the College Board’s annual survey of colleges to develop the metrics available to institutions.
"We set it up as a password-protected item because we really wanted schools to use our product in a way that would not be influenced by student groups or faculty," said NACUBO's Ken Redd. "We wanted financial aid administrators, and presidents, and other cabinet-level type folks to get together and have a really deep discussion about the data the tool shows and not be influenced by some of those outside forces."
So far, more than 1,000 users at 600 institutions are using the tool. Through the tool, users can track and compare metrics such as institutional grants as a percentage of tuition and fee revenue and total operating expense, net tuition and fee revenue, need-based versus merit-based grants, and cumulative student loan debt.
Albert Hermsen of the University of Michigan said that when he worked at Wayne State University, comparing the school’s aid packages to peer institutions prompted change from within.
"We tripled our need-based aid and put together one of the best aid packages in the state," he said. "Being able to compare your school is very important and helps you improve the quality of your aid packages."
Publication Date: 7/10/2016