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.

Written by epopp

March 14, 2016 at 2:22 pm

Posted in uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. It also doesn’t look like he adjusts the state school numbers for percentage in state students, which could have a large influence on average price. My guess would be that Colorado attracts more out-of-state students than WVU.



    March 15, 2016 at 12:14 am

  2. I think some of the difficulty with the data is that only the population of federal financial aid receivers is available. But yeah, these numbers are better thought of as “what (some) people pay,” not “what these places charge.”



    March 15, 2016 at 12:31 am

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