Monday, September 24, 2007

The Hierarchy of Student Decisions - Can I Graduate?

This is the fourth installment`on the Hierarchy of Student Decision Making.
Read the introduction to the Hierarchy - How they Choose click here

The First Step in the Hierarchy- Can I Get In? click here.
Installment 3 Can I Afford it? click here

The Hierarchy of Student Decisions - Step 3

Can I Graduate?

Though it might strike some as odd, students attend college not to learn as a primary goal, but to graduate. They are in school to obtain the certification needed to obtain their entry into a career. The first step on that path to a job and a better life is graduation.

If a student starts to believe that he or she may not be able to graduate for any reason, that student is surely starting a movement to the door marked exit. So colleges should do all they can to ethically assist students to graduate.

By the way, when you think about it, we all went to college to graduate. That’s why we took the required course and grumbled about them. That is why as an English major I read and studied the Romantic poets. It was a requirement for me to be able to get the degree. If I could have avoided Wordswords I would have. Though it may be rather Wal-Martish of me to admit it, I tend to enjoy Lucy in Peanuts over Wordsworth’s. And my reading of the stanza goes like this

What fond and wayward thoughts will slide
Into a student’s head!
'O mercy!' to myself I cried,
'If Lucy would only be dead and the poem end!'

But if I wanted to graduate I had to not only study but pretend that I too liked Wordsworst’s Lucy since I knew the prof did. I did so to pass the course and graduate. Just as you and every other student did.

Graduation is the Goal for Students and Institutions

The goal was and is graduation. And if there is anything placed in a student’s path that will keep them from graduating, they will either find a way, go elsewhere or just plain drop out. The third is the more popular decision it seems since the numbers from the national Center for Educational Statistics 2006 report indicates that of the cohort of new students entering baccalaureate degree programs in 1998, 35% obtained a degree in four years and 54% completed within six years. In community colleges, those who started in 2001 just 33% have graduated. (NCES 2007-154)

Table 6. Graduation rates of bachelor’s-seeking students at 4-year Title IV institutions, by control of institution, gender, and time to degree: United States, cohort year 1999Total

All Public Private Private students not for for profit
4-year graduation rate (%) 35.3 27.9 50.2 22.1

5-year graduation rate (%) 52.3 48.3 61.0 26.9

6-year graduation rate (%) 57.1 54.1 64.0 29.1

(NCES 2007-154 p.12)

And yes, the argument goes that it is difficult to establish “correct” and “acceptable” graduation rates as well as expected rates in four, five and six years because students vary so much. Some take longer than 6 years. That’s their choice. Some only go for a year which was their goal. And actually, graduation should not be the accountability point because even if a student drops out before graduation, higher education has provided some added value that would not have been there if the school did not provide an opportunity. Etcetera etcetera. We all know these are rationalizations to stave off the cognitive dissonance created by allowing students to start at a school when we know they may not be able to graduate. “But who are we to deny the opportunity”…….to gain another tuition?

Actually colleges and universities have a higher ethical obligation to the students. They should not admit those who likely will not succeed at that university or college. But for those they do admit the institution must accept its ethical obligation to do all it can to assist the students to graduate. By admitting a student the school is saying you can do it and we are certifying that with acceptance. “You may be from a very weak high school, may not have enough money to buy books and eat and may not fit into our campus culture but come on in. We believe in you and your possibility, slim though we know it may be, to graduate.” That admission represents what should be a shared commitment to the student’s success. If the student is willing and does all he or she can to succeed, the school should feel obligated to do all it can to help that student graduate. The university should provide all the developmental assistance students may need. There should be professional tutoring available to help students succeed in every class we have them take. If professional counseling either academic or personal is called for, that should be available. If we know (and we do) that students do not come to college with the studies skills needed to succeed; teach them study skills. If they have never really had to worry about their financial situation; teach them money management skills. If they do not know how to manage their time and come to classes sleep deprived because of it; teach them time management. These are some true customer services.

If we accept them we should be ready to provide all the help and service they need to succeed. If not, we may well be entering the red zone of ethical behavior.

The student is coming to college to graduate after all; not just get seats to home football games and wear a school sweatshirt. The student is endowing the institution with trust and faith that it will help the student get to his or her life and career goals. And again, achieving those goals depends on graduating. And don’t hand me Michael Dell or Bill Gates unless you wish to argue that maybe higher education is not needed by exceptional individuals who were destined to be millionaires without our brilliant teaching.

We cannot really worry about some students who will leave because they realize that they cannot pass required course X or the foreign language requirement or calculus or whatever the faculty have set as required courses at the university. If the institution has established a set of core requirements that it considers as necessary to a valid education and a student cannot complete them due to his or her inability even when help is provided, the institution almost has no choice but to either dismiss the student or let the student leave. It should not lower its standards or requirements just to keep students enrolled. That would be unethical.

Yes the student wants to graduate but if he or she is not capable of performing at a required level, it is not good customer service to just pass the student on just to make him or her feel good. Moreover, the kindness of a sympathy pass will likely catch up to the student at some time. So, though the nursing department causes complaints when the student’s final grade is a 69.4 and a 70 is required to move on and they won’t give the extra .6 points so Tiffany or Rodney can graduate, the department is right. Supporting those standards is important. Customer service is not passing a nursing student on so he or she might harm someone later in life.

Customer Service-Based Scheduling

A bottom-line customer service objective of the college should at least include be to avoid throwing unnecessary roadblocks in the way to graduation. Yet basic institutional systems and “that’s how we do it” concepts are set in place to make sure graduation may be tough to obtain. And certainly difficult in the two or four-year plan. For example, scheduling.

Most every college or university president is more concerned with happy faculty than happy students. That’s because faculty have a unique ability to make life miserable and even get a president fired. Complaints, committees, grievances, votes of no confidence tend to make presidents and other senior administrators anxious since trustees are bothered by them. Students, they know, will complain but since they generally fear retribution or feel powerless, they usually go away. They seldom go to the Board or if they do, many Boards do not have a procedure to hear them. Put simply, unhappy students seldom cause a college real angst or job loss except when the revenue drops into deficit because they drop out or do not enroll to start with.

The same follows for the basics of scheduling courses. The process is most normally done at the department level where the department chair certainly wishes to keep the full-time faculty happy or they might turn on him or her. Could lose support and the chair. That would mean having to teach again for many. And my god, teaching a fuller load! No, better to keep the faculty happy. So the chair finds out when and what the faculty want to teach. Oddly enough, most full-time faculty prefer not to teach required under-graduate courses or at inconvenient hours or four days a week. (Forget five. Most colleges and universities have stopped scheduling Friday altogether.) Given the choice, faculty would want to teach something that interests them as an elective whether or not the subject fits students’ graduation needs or schedules. In fact, at many schools, there are more elective sections taught in a semester or term than required course sections.

Scheduling should actually focus on student needs first and last. Required courses and sections should be scheduled first and at times that are best for students to attend. Times that will facilitate their attending, learning and progress toward graduation. And it might be Friday morning. Next, courses required for graduation within a particular major should be scheduled. Following these, any and all sequential courses that have already begun should be scheduled. For example, if students started French 1 last semester make sure French 2 is offered in the current semester and 3 will be available next. To be sure there will be a large enough class in French 3, figure out the attrition sequence and get a large enough French 1 class to meet the number goals of French 3. After these are scheduled, the non-required electives that faculty feel like teaching because they’d make them happy to do so can be scheduled in remaining slots. That is an example of good customer service and helping students answer the can I graduate question to assure increased retention.

Figuring the Real Cost of Sections

Since budgets have been cut, fewer sections are offered period. Colleges and universities just cut back on the number of course sections offered and then cull out sections with small numbers to save on the budget. For some reason, perhaps academic tradition, colleges and universities often use the number 10 as the required number of students enrolled to let a class go forward. That in itself befuddles fiscal reality.

Consider that the average number of adjuncts (i.e. part time serfs who get low pay and no benefits) teaching course sections in the average college or university has risen to somewhere between 50% to 64% and could be more if figured by individual departments. That’s the number of adjuncts by the way, not the percentage of courses taught by them. That number is not available but could run as high as 75% considering full-time teaching loads, reductions in loads and such. And though I do not have but anecdotal information, it seems most of the introductory courses and required courses not taught by the newly hired full-time faculty are taught either by adjuncts or T.A’s, i.e. part-time grad students. So the odds are quite good that a course section especially required or introductory courses will be taught by a low pay adjunct or T.A.

All the above is to question whether or not students are receiving the most important customer service of good teachers who are dedicated to their learning and available to assist them when they need help. Maybe not. But what the numbers show is that most courses in colleges and universities are being taught by underpaid, non-benefit receiving part-timers. Yes, some schools do provide some benefits and some adjuncts have unions to try to gain them better pay and benefits but to this point, it’s still serfdom for most.According to the College Board's article "2006-07 College Costs: Keep Rising Prices in Perspective" the average tuition costs were as follows:

Four-year private $22,218
Four-year public $5,836 Two-year public $2,272.

Now let’s assume that the average student takes 4 courses. So the four-year private student pays $5,554.50 per course; four-year public $1459 per course and two-year public $558 per course in tuition. For public schools which do get some public financial support, tuition is not the only revenue source so the cost per course is actually lower for the student but to keep the paying field even, we’ll just figure tuition.

Now, consider that adjuncts seem to get paid around an average $3,400 a course no benefits. So to equal pay for an adjunct at a two-year school would need just about 6 students in the section to break even; a four-year public college or university would call for 2.3 students and a four-year private would need just a torso, not even a full student. Granted there are associated costs but this should provide a general notion that the number of 10 in a section for fiscal responsibility is just wrong. You can of course really figure the particular break even at your institution as follows:

Tuition per student = RPC (revenue per student per course) 4

Cost of an instructor per section = number of students to break even RPC

If a school can break even in the teaching of a course, it should always offer it.

As a customer service to students and as a retention service to itself. A cancelled section loses students from their accurate perception of customer non-service. The student realizes he or she is not really important to the school. The college loses because students will drop out when courses are not available. Though universities may think they save money when they cancel an under subscribed section, when one looks at the formulas above that belief is often proven untrue. The institution may very well either break even or make some money. Yes, we all know that colleges are not into it to make money but then why cancel sections students need to progress to graduation? Especially when there is no money lost?

Canceling Retention

And when sections are cancelled, students begin to wonder if this college is a good choice and start the process that can culminate in dropping out.

When a school cancels a section it usually does so late in the process. Very likely just the week before courses start or even in the first week. Students have set up their lives around the schedule they created and in some cases, had approved by a faculty member or some official at the school. They set their work schedules around the course schedule. They set their transportation around the course schedule. Their babysitting if needed is set to the course schedule. Their extra-collegiate obligations are planned according to the class schedule. Everything is set to revolve around the classes, days and times. Then in the last week the school let’s her know, too often by a notice on a board or the classroom where the course was to be; maybe a phone call, that the section is canceled. “You must meet with your adviser immediately to choose another course.” An academic version of bait and switch?

Maybe not but it certainly is a wait and switch … to another school generator. First, the college has disrupted the student’s plans and life. Really bad, no the very worst customer service.

Then the next immediate question is, “is this place worth it?” And the “worth it” goes to money since another term/semester will cost more money. That pushes the student back down the taxonomy to the issue of “can I afford it?” In turn, this basic concern can quickly take precedence in the student’s mind thereby making cost a major retention factor once again. The student has to reconfigure affordability and until that issue is resolved, the student remains at risk for dropping out and transferring. Not necessarily to a less expensive school but one in which he or she feel the courses needed to graduate on time are available. That extra time is real money to the student in more than one way. First, the ability to affords more time in school. Second, the cost of lost earning. And, for some students costs to offset family requirements like babysitters.

Look back at the cost of a section formulas. Before cutting a section, do the math. When you notice that the section will pay for itself, run it. If it could create a small loss, contrast the loss against an annual tuition received from a student because canceling the section will likely cause student attrition at some point. Is a small savings worth a large loss to the student and the school? The right decision will provide the school and student good customer service and help answer the question “can I graduate?”

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Hierarchy of Student Decision Making Step 2- Can I Afford it?

This is the third installment in an on-going discussion on the Hierarchy of Student Decision Making.
To read the introduction to the Hierarchy of Student Decision Making- How they Choose click here

To read the second installment, The First Step in the Hierarchy- Can I Get In? click here.

Hierarchy of Decision-Making Can I Afford It?

Once the primary concern of can I get in is satisfied, an immediate issue come flying forward. Can I pay for this? Though it will seem at times that some students give the impression that college should be free just like high school was, most will realize that it costs money to go to school. As to whether or not college should be free or at least affordable for most students is an issue for another day.

Very often students who are looking to go to a school concentrate so much on hierarchy question one, Can I Get In?, that they put off worrying about paying. Students will actually not encounter the reality of paying for college until they are admitted and are sent a bill. They will have an idea of costs since most will have looked at schools by some sense of cost banding.

Cost bands
A cost band is a mental grouping by tuition such as high, medium and low costs schools in relation to the student’s or the family’s self-conceived economic position and social connections. For example, students from an affluent neighborhood may assume that any of the top Name Brand schools will be affordable because they live in an affluent area and everyone else seems to be applying to Ivies or name brands. So they apply to schools in an expensive but affordable “cost band” that others would see as way out of their reach. A student from the inner city would not see her band including the expensive private schools for the most part. A student from a solidly middle class neighborhood or town would look to schools that fit within the affordability band appropriate to the family’s income. They might apply to state universities and colleges as well as a “stretch school” which expands the band itself with the hope that “if I get in, we can find a way to pay for it.” In fact, banding is a bit elastic since students are pushed to apply for a “stretch school” and worry about the costs later. Moreover, simply put, many students do not consider the real costs as they apply.

The banding often expands beyond the financial means for many families due to a couple of elasticity factors. First is the culturally promoted belief that anyone can become president and there is a way to pay for every student to attend the college or university of his or her choice. Anyone who has had to pay for school knows this is a cultural fabrication that is only true for those with the discretionary income to pay or the credit rating to take out loans that will lower the family’s fiscal stability and/or the student’s life after graduation for years to come. And the becoming president part… It’s true that C students have done it but there was that family money and connections thing.

The second band elasticity factor is set upon another misbelief often promoted by the school itself which talks vaguely about scholarships and grants available for those who qualify. As part of the recruitment approach, costs are left out of the discussion or details. “Oh tuition is $X but most of our students get scholarships and grants to help out” is a quite common line many admission reps will repeat to answer the tuition affordability cost. Scholarships and grants do exist but not in the amount or quantity required by most students to be able to afford the school of their choice. Scholarships and grants such as Pell can help out but many students who elect to go to a school that is really outside of their fiscal band will be left with large debts.

At the same time, there is a psychological aspect that restricts band elasticity from including what might be sensible and feasible financial decisions. This is the socially acceptable aspect of choices that dictate the range of schools that may be included in the band. For example, students from an affluent area would not place a community college into their band since that would carry too high a social esteem cost. The affective return on investment would be far too low. To even be known as considering a community college (which is a very wise fiscal choice for the first two years by the way) would lower the social status. So the banding is a combination of perceived financial and social cost.

The initial selection of schools to apply to might have some fiscal controls on it but once the applications go out, the “can I get in stage” takes full command. Actual costs remain secondary to gaining acceptance. During this stage, hope springs eternal and “first get in and then we’ll figure it out” attitude is prevalent until acceptance. When the letter comes welcoming a student to the school, then issue 2 takes complete importance. Reality suddenly comes in the door with the welcoming package. What often doesn’t come with the package is enough help and customer service assistance with financial aid.

Making Financial Aid Even More Difficult
Yes, most schools send out some details about financial aid and what the family must do but the information usually confuses the hell out of the potential student and parents. It is almost always written in academic in-group language as well as the state and federal legalese to make sure the students and parents do not really understand what they need to do and then how to do it.. There are times when I have this cynical belief that we use confusing and technical language to dissuade families from applying for all the financial aid they might be entitled to. This is not all that far fetched cynicism either. The June 2007 Harvard Business Review has an article by Gail McGovern and Youngme Moon. The article’s title is Companies and the Customer Who Hate Them. The article discusses companies that deliberately confuse customers into making bad purchases.

Companies have found that confused and ill-informed customers, who often end up making poor purchasing decisions, can be highly profitable indeed (p79)… the majority of firms have unwittingly fallen into a trap/ Without ever making a deliberate decision to do so, they have, over a period of years taken greater advantage of their customers. (p.80)

And when schools make it even more difficult than it needs to be to properly complete financial aid requests and applications for scholarships or grants, they are doing what McGovern and Moon found companies doing. It seems as if there has developed a probably unconscious yet insidious lack of real help that frustrates, confuses and stupefies parents and students trying to complete the required forms. As colleges and universities tried to “follow state and federal rules” they found Byzantine and impervious to full understanding without seminars on them, they have simply repeated them verbatim to parents. Most all of them do not know what to do really. Want to see if it is true for your school? Just open your catalog and read what’s there. Then look at the financial aid information sent to parents. Does your information provide your customers the service they need? Likely not. It includes such helpful directions as "COMPLETE THE FAFSA ONLINE. Don’t forget to enter your pin!" Bowling or brooch?

To most people these three words are tantamount to “here is your do it yourself proctoscope kit”. I have never found anyone who has ever found completing the FAFSA easy or enjoyable even if they knew what they were doing. They remind parents and students of the joy of doing their annual taxes. What school would not want to be considered in the same thought as the IRS?

Parents hate the forms whether they are on-line or not. Colleges should realize this and provide them all the human help they can. Briarcliffe College in New York does this by having people come to the school and sit through a full introduction to the FAFSA on line. Then if the people bring their materials in, Tuition Planners help them complete the forms so they can get every penny for which they qualify. I even observed a planner helping a father whose other son was going to a different school complete the forms for the other school. I believe I heard that the father was talking to the other son about transferring to the college that provided real service for students. Service that made financial aid easier and more profitable for everyone. The students have more money to make college more affordable and the school has greater assurance of the student being able to pay and attend.

I am amazed at how many parents and students do all they can to not complete the FAFSA, either on line or in hardcopy. All they need is one excuse not to complete it and they will leave it “for later” or just never get it done. For instance, I have discovered over the years that there is one bit of information that too often provides parents a perfect excuse not to complete the FAFSA and send it in. And that one bit of information is one that you should make sure is right there for them because it affects you directly. It is the college code number. For some reason, we hide these numbers from students and their families.

Try this, go to your financial aid office and see if the code is posted in an unobstructed, easily noticeable location, or in a somewhat prominent spot or for that matter, anywhere. Odds are pretty good it is not. Yet, without that code, students cannot complete their FAFSA. And if they cannot or do not complete it, who is ultimately hurt? Sure the student, but the school too. Without the financial aid the student might get, he or she is not coming there. All the time, effort and money spent to recruit that student is just lost, as is the chance to provide that student the best education he or she could get anywhere. The faculty loses the chance to fulfill its mission to educate that student.

So get the college code out there. Post it in the office. Print it on the forms. Make sure it can be obtained easily on the financial aid section of the website. Also, help people with the form. Provide counselors who actually call to potential students to offer their aid in completing the form. Create an on-line tutorial for parents to use as they try and complete the form. Offer hybrid workshops that will take a group of parents from the start of the form through to the end. Hybrid? On line and by conference call. Also, provide them at the school. Invite parents in to complete their forms with hands-on assistance.

Payment Plans and Other Ways To Make it Affordable
Make sure you help students and their families answer the question Can I afford it? If they do not believe they can, they won’t EVEN IF THEY ACTUALLY COULD.

Do you have a payment plan? A way for normal people to make payments for school over a period of time? Most people get paid weekly, bi-weekly or even monthly yet we want it all at one time. Lump sum. No other major investment people make calls for all the money up front. A house – a mortgage. A car- five year loan. Even a doctor’s bill can be charged and paid out over time. College? Not always so.

The hardest thing for people to do in paying a college is to save it all up to make a single payment. Life often gets in the way. Yet, if they can plan for regular payments, college can be affordable. Provide a payment plan that allows them to be able to pay for school over a semester or year or even longer if possible. There are many ways to do this. Twenty percent down and then monthly payments. Run an in-house plan or let a professional like FACTS do it for you. Charge for the service or not. There are many ways to do it but do it.

If you cannot make college affordable or at least within reach of affordability, students cannot answer the step 2 question, Can I Afford IT? and will not come to school. Or of they do start they will soon run out of money and drop out. In fact this is the major reason why there are fiscal drops in the second semester and sophomore years.

AcademicMAPS has recently published a new retention white paper on the subject of retention and ROI. The paper discusses the power of retention and provides formulas for a college or university to determine the ROI loss or gains from retention. There is no cost for this white paper. It may be obtained by clicking here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A Way to Release Some of that Stress

This has little to do with retention and customer service except for reading retention and the fact that Jasper Fforde answers his own email and does it quickly so there is a service connection. Anyhow, the jobs you all have are demanding and stressful even with the wonderful assistance of AcademicMAPS (had to toss a plug in there). Just also want to share some ways to get away from the tension and stress of your jobs. Lord knows they can wear you down without some fun other than another meeting or task force.

Fforde is the author of the Thursday Next series as well as the Nursery Crime Division series. The books are absolutely wonderful, funny, bright and the best satires of mystery novels, literature and just plain funnier than a retreat on budget planning led by the CFO. I just finished The Fourth Bear a novel based on the Goldilocks story so wonderfully turned on its head that the damn thing finally makes sense. In it Jack Spratt who is a PDR (person of dubious reality) with his sidekick Mary Mary figures out who killed Goldilocks as well as the basis of green cuclear power, whether the Gingerbread man, a cereal killer is either a cookie or cake, why you should not suck your thumb in the office between meetings, and numerous other nursery crimes. His last adventure dealt with the murder of Humpty Dumpty in The Big Over Easy

The Thursday Next novels ought to be required reading for all lit majors. They actually explore the core of literature while removing the rotten cores of crime in one or another century and world. With the help of characters such as Miss Haversham, Thursday goes to such places as the Well of Lost Plots where every plot concept ever used, considered or tried exists. By the way, you can buy some plot devices there too if your great American, Canadian or European novel is stuck. The series is brilliant and great fun, especially for English majors and even more so for English majors who are now working in administration to get out of grading all those essays that could reveal that the student author really could belong in a Fforde novel.

They are great escapes and you may even discover some hidden truths from nursery rhymes and literature along the way.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Power of Retention: ROI Formulas - Excerpt from White Paper

This is an excerpt from an AcademicMAPS white paper The Power of Retention.If you would like a copy of the entire white paper, please just contact us at

Calculating ROI from Retention; Three CSF Formulas

There are three primary CSFactors™,(Customer Service Factors) AcademicMAPS has formulated to help universities, colleges and career school figure out the loss or gain from retention and attrition. The CSFactors are provided as formulas schools can use to figure out how much revenue they are losing, or could and would gain if they focused on improving service to students. The formulas are quick methods to understand the financial power of retention coming out of customer service to students. Placing your college or university’s actual numbers into the formulas will quickly bring forward the real power of retention to positively affect the revenue and future or the institution.

They could also be applied to employee retention, another significant revenue and service issue but here we focus on students. The formulas were developed and tested from the research AcademicMAPS conducted during college service audits, workshops, presentations, retreats and other services provide to higher education as well as just pure research.

CSFactor 1: The Cost of Attrition CSF1 helps a college figure out how much money it is losing from its actual attrition. Factor 1 is stated as:

CSF1 = [(P X A= SL) X T]

In the formula, P represents the total school population; not just the starting fall freshman number. Most schools use the fall incoming freshmen number and that is an error. The assumption is that attrition occurs most in the first six weeks of the freshman year. That may be have some validity for the freshman year but the reality is that students are leaving colleges and universities in any one of the average six-plus years of a four-year degree and in the four-plus average years of a two-year degree. Students leave a school throughout their experience at the college. In fact, some schools are beginning to realize this and worry about the sophomore bubble. But they really need to worry about the super soph sluff, the rising junior jilt, the junior jump, super junior split, the fourth year flee and so on. Every year, every semester, in fact every day is a chance for a student to dropout. Colleges need to be concerned with every student every day of their attendance for it could be his or her last. So we look at the total population.

Annualized tuition is the number a school should use to figure its real attrition. Not the retention between the first and second semester or the freshman and sophomore years which are very popular ones. That leaves out all the students who already dropped out before the end of the second term or semester. That number fudges failure. For instance, if a college began a year with 100 new freshman and 99 left in week one but the remaining student stayed the whole year and returned for a sophomore year, the freshman to sophomore percentage would be 100%.

In CSF1, A equals attrition. Again not just from freshman but an annualized attrition rate. And this rate is to include ALL students who leave for any reason. It does not matter if the student says he or she will be back. They are not in the population and bringing in revenue until they actually do return. If they pay a “place holding fee”, that does not count them as a student until they are actually back in classes.

Fudge with the numbers if you have a need for delusion, or are insecure, unethical, or want to keep the Board feeling better but when you use the formulas, be fully honest. It will help you understand why the budget is not working or may suddenly implode. No one likes surprises, especially ones that have parentheses around them in the budget and

lead to freezes, cuts and the like. Using the formulas honestly can help forecast a reality to avoid surprises and initiate work on retaining students to maintain fiscal and operating health.

SL stands for students lost annually from total population and revenue production. And T equals annual tuition at the school.

So here is what showed up when we analyzed CSF1 for Mammon University. You may know it. Its motto is Omnes Por Pecunia. Anything for a Buck.

Its total population was 500 students.

Annualized attrition was at 39.6%

So SL (students lost annually) was 198.

Times an annual tuition of $13,000.

So, the formula becomes:

[(500 x 39.6% = 198) x $13,000] = a revenue loss of ($2,574,000).

To carry this forward a bit, we can plug in other numbers and see how an increase in retention could add to the bottom line and thus the ability to pay for full time faculty, staff, their benefits, increases for adjuncts, instructional equipment, tutors, research release, new curricula and programs, maintenance, …. All those pesky costs that make a college or university better.

If attrition dropped by 5% for this school and we substitute 5% increased retention for attrition percentage in the formula.

CSF1 = [(500 x 5% = 25) x 13,000] =

$325,000 more revenue.

Plug your school’s numbers in and see how increasing retention affects your budget and instructional strength while attrition will sap the ability to meet budget and mission.

For the full white paper, please contact

(I have been told the link is sending people to our web page where the email can be found but if you wish to skip the web page, copy and paste the address in your email editor. Sorry for any inconvenience.)