New York State Introduces Free Tuition

james cousins
senior statistical analyst

NYS-SealWell, it finally happened. There’s been a lot of talk in a lot of states (by a lot of people), but New York just became the first state in the nation to make tuition free for middle class students at both two- and four-year public colleges.

Comments are already piling up in forums and on pretty much any news article discussing this change. Time will tell what impact the policy has on higher education in New York (and very likely, in neighboring states). What is certain is that this is a game-changer in a lot of respects. We are eagerly keeping up with the reactions from across the industry, but also, it reminds us of how important data is. With a policy change this large, data becomes the key to measuring the policy’s efficacy.

Given the prevalence of predictive modeling for both student success and enrollment management, this is a unique scenario. The behaviors of students and prospects entering higher education are about to change, so having a tool which is powerful enough to handle the scope and pace of the changes is critical. Our customers have always relied on our tools for transparency, agility, and accuracy. One institution, for instance, had found that reality was not matching their predictive model’s expectations. They began digging through the data when they realized that a new application source had been tapped in the most recent year. These applicants were behaving distinctly different from the rest. They added the variable application source to their model, and were able to easily rebuild their model with the new data point. Happily, their analysis provided a quantitative answer to what they were seeing, and they were able to account for it moving forward and explain the results to all stakeholders. The ability to add in new variables quickly and see what variables contributed to the model was key to their confidence in using the model moving forward.

So how do you think the new policy will impact the public institutions of New York? The Private ones? Neighboring states? Also, have you ever had to handle a statewide policy change? Let us know in the comments! We love hearing from you.