march madness for higher ed nerds
You’re not likely to catch me watching basketball this month, or any month, honestly. But even I can appreciate Robert Kelchen’s higher-ed spin on the NCAA brackets. He takes the schools fielding teams this year and calculates their net price to students receiving financial aid — that is, how much they cost to attend each year — including loans, but excluding grant aid.
Even if you know there’s a lot of variation, it’s still sort of amazing to see. The winners, both CSUs (Fresno and Bakersfield), come out around $5,600. The losers? Providence ($33,800), St. Joe’s ($34,300), and Baylor, at — ouch — $34,900 a year to the average financial-aid-receiving student. Public flagships are mostly in the mid-teens, with West Virginia squeaking in under $10k and Colorado a fairly ugly $21,100.
Of course this doesn’t mean that these are what families at the same income/wealth level would pay at each of these schools; the average financial-aid-receiving Colorado student is quite likely richer than the average WVU attendee. Kelchen slices the numbers a second way by just looking at net price for low-income students (family income under $30k), which takes Yale all the way to the championship match — where it loses, once again, to Fresno State.
The technologies behind tuition pricing are truly a fascinating thing. There is a great dissertation waiting to be written on them by someone interested in organizations, higher ed, inequality, and quantification processes.