White House Budget Threatens Institutions’ Capacity for Compliance

Institutions often struggle with enrollment management, especially with regard to process development within an evolving ecology of higher education. Scholars and practitioners continue to document enrollment management complications ad nauseam, and publicly available evidence on matriculation trends imply growing financial challenges for institutions heavily dependent on tuition revenue.

The frailty of institution’s patterned challenges with evidencing sound enrollment management methodologies might soon be elevated, as budget cuts bring far-reaching consequences for students and higher education finance.

Additional Peril for the NSF and Students

According to details from The Washington Post, the National Science Foundation may likely receive a double digit cut — a decision to surely reduce compliance capacity for Tier I colleges and universities as faculty lose funding and graduate students scramble to locate new financial support. What’s more, this “skinny budget” calls for an elimination of the Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Program, as well as stark reductions to programs which overwhelmingly serve the underrepresented and marginalized.

At a time when young people are strongly encouraged to pursue graduate studies in order to help maximize their long-term economic participation, as well as increase chances of membership in a shrinking middle class, institutions might experience unique retention and persistence challenges. Financial support from either state or local governments represents the only buffer.

Regardless, enrollment management plans ought to articulate careful strategies for facilitating students’ timely academic progress, combatting perceptions of instability and avoiding the landmines of uncertainty or doubt from peer reviewers. These evidences take on additional importance during time of financial uncertainty, and a massive national divestment of this type represent such an event.

Recommendations for Accreditation Compliance

As budgetary fallout impacts higher education, colleges and universities with scheduled accreditation reaffirmation visits might be deemed ‘at risk’ due to added compliance pressures which come with the benefit of a sizable time gap between visits. Institutions with planned special visits for issues of enrollment management are at ‘high risk’. Identifying and developing evidence and various forms of documenting intercampus dialogue on student success initiatives is key. This document is useful to prompt a think-aloud protocol during enrollment management workgroups or committee work intended to unpack frugal practices supporting student success agendas through existing academic protocols.

While federal support for higher education and its constituents continues to decline, accreditation expectations will remain stable.

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