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Exploring the relationship between admissions, financial aid, and the financial health of CCCU institutions: A quantitative analysis

Janice L Supplee, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Recent headlines about the financial challenges confronting small, tuition-dependent private colleges are bleak. Rising costs, declining enrollments, growing student debt, increasing default rates, rising tuition discounts, insufficient endowments, and falling institutional credit ratings have all grabbed the attention of the national media. Acknowledging this challenging environment, this study explored factors contributing to the financial health of a subset of small private colleges—members of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU). A multilevel statistical analysis provided an understanding of the relationship of five enrollment and financial aid-related predictor variables (admitted student yield rate; annual percent change in undergraduate enrollment; percent of total enrollment from adult, graduate, and professional programs; unfunded discount rate; and institutional aid from gifts or endowment) to the participating institutions' Composite Financial Index (CFI) during a four-year period. Using data from the North American Coalition for Christian Admissions Professionals (NACCAP) Admissions Benchmarking Survey and the Financial Aid Survey of CCCU Institutions as well as responses to a CFI survey of member institutions, the relationships of the variables were examined using both descriptive and inferential statistics. Five hypotheses were tested. In considering the interaction of each predictor variable with time, the model showed that the admitted student yield rate and unfunded discount rate constrained growth in the CFI in some time periods. In contrast, the annual percent change in undergraduate enrollment positively influenced the direction of the CFI in one time period. The only predictor variable that emerged as significant in the final model was institutional aid from gifts or endowment. The results suggested that, for CCCU institutions, enrollment strategies alone did not improve institutional financial performance. Also, the influence of graduate and adult programs on financial health remained unclear. To improve financial position, leaders should consider balanced strategies that include stable or moderate undergraduate enrollment growth, conservative use of tuition discounting, and intentional efforts to increase endowment and other gift resources.

Subject Area

Higher Education Administration|Finance|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Supplee, Janice L, "Exploring the relationship between admissions, financial aid, and the financial health of CCCU institutions: A quantitative analysis" (2014). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3615059.