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HuskyData 2: Are All FYEs the Same?
by Silence Dogood

The Analytics and Institutional Data Research Team just released their second HuskyData newsletter. The focus of the HuskyData newsletter is “a regular newsletter dedicated to sharing data and information about SCSU and our students.” Sharing data is clearly important if the goal is transparency.

The second installment of HuskyData focuses on explaining what is meant by the term FYE.

For those who may not know about enrollment numbers, the newsletter does a very good job of explaining just what is meant by FYE. Unfortunately, while it does a good job of explaining FYE, it completely fails to discuss the incredibly important fact that FYE enrollment has declined at SCSU from 15,096 in FY10 to 12,381 in FY14—the four-year drop corresponds to the loss of 2,715 FYE or 18.0%. If the projection of 11,805 FYE for FY15 is included, the drop is 3,291 FYE and corresponds to a five-year drop of 21.8%! In some ways, it’s kind of like focusing on the acting and character development in the performance of Our American Cousin in Ford’s Theater on April 14, 1865 while completely overlooking the important event that took place—the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln!

A second major issue that is overlooked in the HuskyData newsletter is in the figure “All Students Are Not The Same.” While the figure shows a breakdown of three types of enrollment: Undergraduate (non-S2S), Senior to Sophomore, and Graduate, nothing is mentioned about the fact that each type of FYE provides significantly different amounts of tuition.

If your goal is to make accurate budget projections, you need to account for the fact that there are several enrollment categories with each having it’s own unique financial impact on the amount of revenue produced. For instance, in the category of Post Secondary Education Option (PSEO), there are two different cases. The first is where high school students attend classes at SCSU and receive credit both at SCSU and the high school. The tuition charged to these students is approximately 70% of the tuition paid by regular students. The second is the Senior to Sophomore Program (S2S), where schools typically pay $3,000 for up to 30 students in a course. As a result, for a three-credit course taught via S2S, SCSU only collects $33 per credit in ‘tuition.’ For a four credit course, it is even less at $25 per credit! For three-credit courses, at $33 per credit, 1 FYE brings in $990. For four-credit courses, at $25 per credit, 1 FYE brings in a whopping $750! S2S students also don’t pay any student fees. Regular undergraduate tuition is $219.45 per credit so if SCSU collects $25 per credit for the S2S program, SCSU only collects approximately 1/10 of what it does for regular students. Given these types of economic parameters, it is very hard to believe that SCSU even breaks even on the S2S program.

The figure in the HuskyData newsletter “All Students Are Not The Same” shows that for FY14 there were 580 FYE from the Senior to Sophomore program. For nearly 5% of the nominal FYE enrollment, the university took in tuition equal to only 58 FYE full tuition students. Similarly, the nominal FYE from the traditional PSEO should be discounted by approximately 30% to reflect the reduced revenue per credit when budgets are being planned.

Further complicating the calculation of revenue from tuition is the fact that SCSU has 12 different tuition categories for regular undergraduate students—not counting different tuition for online courses! From the SCSU website, the various undergraduate tuitions based on different categories are given in the table.

From the table, it shows that out-of-state students, depending on the state, pay tuition, which ranges from $219.45-474.20 per credit. Tuition for 1 FYE at $219.45 is $6,583.50, while 1 FYE at $474.420 is $14,226.00, which is more than double! In times of financial crisis resulting from declining enrollment, clearly, from a financial standpoint more out of state students need to be recruited! As a result, lumping all of the undergraduate students into one category “Undergraduate (non-S2S)” may not give an accurate budget picture.

Graduate courses have pricing ranging from $355.08 to $780.00 per credit depending on whether or not it is in a Masters Program or a Doctoral Program and whether or not the course is offered on-campus, off-campus or online. As shown in the following table, the SCSU website lists 21 different categories of programs each with their own tuition.

For budgeting purposes, it is clearly important to know at a fairly detailed level the types of FYE. Unfortunately, no detailed breakdown of enrollment by tuition category has ever been presented by the administration. Given SCSU’s current economic situation, from an economic standpoint, clearly the strategy should be to increase the numbers of students paying the highest tuition and decrease the numbers of students paying the lowest tuition. However, over the past five years, the only category with any growth is the S2S program where SCSU makes little, if any, revenue from tuition.

The following plot shows the fall enrollment of PSEO students at SCSU from Fall 2005 through Fall 2013.

As illustrated in the figure, the enrollment growth since the Fall of 2005 has been amazing! From Fall’05 to Fall’13 headcount enrollment has risen 265%. Unfortunately, if the university makes little or no money on PSEO students, then the growth in headcount enrollment from the PSEO program can mask the decline in enrollment of regular students. Essentially trading one PSEO student paying 1/10 the tuition for a student paying the full rate does not make much economic sense. However, unless you account for this difference in your budget projections, you may find yourself in a financial hole just exactly like SCSU now finds itself.

Lastly, the graph “All Students Are Not The Same” focuses on the different number of credits each average student takes for each category again overlooking the most important fact that the cost of tuition for each category is significantly different. Any budget projection that does not take these differences into account is bound to be seriously in error. Unfortunately, no budget analysis has ever been presented by the administration which takes into account the numbers of students in each of the various classifications. In fact, it’s even worse than that because over three months into the fiscal year, no budget has ever been presented. I wonder if anyone knows of another university who hasn’t presented a budget document three months into the fiscal year. Clearly having a budget is no panacea but three months into the fiscal year not having a budget is a bit embarrassing.

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