Office of Planning and Budgeting

Today, the Washington Monthly released its 2012 national university rankings. Unlike the better known U.S. News & World Report survey, which considers only “widely accepted indicators of excellence [such as] freshman retention and graduation rates and the strength of the faculty”, the Washington Monthly focuses on schools’ “contribution to the public good”. It rates schools in three broad categories: Social Mobility (recruiting and graduating low-income students), Research (producing cutting-edge scholarship and PhDs), and Service (encouraging students to give something back to their country).

The University of Washington-Seattle ranks 8th in the nation among national universities, while UC San Diego, Texas A&M and Stanford take the top three spots. This represents a huge jump for the UW, from 23rd in 2010 to 16th in 2011, and now to 8th place, achieved amidst severe budget cuts. The UW’s notably high score on social mobility (6th in the nation) is a reflection of its strong commitment to financial aid despite rising tuition rates. For full results and a more thorough explanation of the methodology, click here.

Yesterday, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) published a report summarizing fall 2011 employment data and academic year 2010-11 student financial aid data submitted by all Title IV institutions to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

Here are some of the findings:

ON EMPLOYMENT:

  • Public institutions offered more employment opportunities to graduate students than private ones: fully 17% of the public institutions’ labor force was composed of graduate students, while the figure stood at 7% for private non-profits and 0.3% for private for-profit institutions.

  • Private for-profit institutions relied heavily on part-time instructors: 86% of the staff engaged in instruction, research and/or public service at these institutions was reported as part-time, while 36% of public institution instructional staff and 30% of private nonprofit institution instructional staff fell in that category.

ON FINANCIAL AID:

  • For those attending public four-year institutions, average cost of attendance before aid was approximately $17,600 and net price was about $11,000; for those attending nonprofit institutions, average cost before aid was twice as high – approximately $34,000 – while net price was about $19,800; finally, for those attending for-profit institutions, average cost before aid was approximately $27,900 and net price was about $22,500. The average cost of attendance includes tuition and required fees, books and supplies, room and board, and other expenses.

  • An analysis of the average amount of total Title IV aid received by students per income category demonstrates public institutions’ focus on targeting those most in need: public institutions covered 53% of the total cost for students with family income below $30,000, and only 10% of the cost for students with family income above $110,000. The following table provides more detail on the comparable figures for private institutions.

Average Title IV aid
and average price before aid by type of institution,
academic year
2010-11

Family Income Level

$0-30,000

$30,001-48,000

$48,001-75,000

$75,001-110,000

$110,001 +

Public

Average Aid

9,288

7,869

4,742

2,328

1,703

Aid Ratio

53%

45%

27%

13%

10%

Avg. Net Price

8,286

9,705

12,832

15,246

15,871

Private Nonprofit

Average Aid

18,190

17,687

15,262

13,090

10,515

Aid Ratio

54%

52%

45%

39%

31%

Avg. Net Price

15,798

16,301

18,726

20,898

23,473

Private For Profit

Average Aid

5,472

4,517

2,467

962

853

Aid Ratio

20%

16%

9%

3%

3%

Avg. Net Price

22,336

23,292

25,342

26,847

26,956

The release of this information by the NCES coincides with an emerging effort aimed at “reimagining aid design and delivery” supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which was the subject of a recent article on Inside Higher Ed. We will keep abreast of developments related to this effort and provide updates as more information emerges in the next few months.

Yesterday, Governor Gregoire’s budget office issued a lackluster four-year revenue and expenditure outlook for the state’s near general fund. The coming 2013-15 biennium (FY14 & FY15), for which the Governor will release a budget in December, comes up short on anticipated revenue and long on expenditures. Before accounting for required increases in K12, across-the-board salary increases, and minor increases to financial aid spending, the anticipated deficit for both years of the coming biennium is $1.7 billion. If the Legislature appropriates funds from the budget stabilization account, the biennial deficit shrinks to $956 million. The deficit was calculated based on the assumption that near general fund revenue will grow 2.2% in FY14 and 4.4% in FY15.

Expenditure assumptions include the backfill of an equivalent 3% salary reduction in each of the prior two fiscal years (FY12 & FY13). In other words, it is presumed that the Legislature will backfill the UW’s budget by approximately $12 million per year to replace the temporary salary-related reductions it imposed on the University during the prior biennium. However, without an infusion of revenue, the Legislature will not be able to fund required K12 policy enhancements, financial aid, or salary increases.

The outlook serves as a reminder that the state’s economy remains tenuous and even a minor replenishment of higher education spending is questionable.