Close up of a calendar symbolizing the IPEDS schedule

Is It Budget Season AGAIN?

Doesn’t it feel like it’s always budget season? Whether planning for the next semester or the next fiscal year, monitoring the budget is a year-round activity. For most institutions, tuition and fees represent significant revenue streams. Since those tuition and fee dollars come from students, the budget conversation inevitably turns to improving student retention, success, and graduation rates.

side view of a large office desk calendar to reflect budget season dates

As institutional leaders carefully review their budgets, it becomes critical for them to understand the efficacy of their existing programs and services. Which initiatives effectively promote student success? Which strategies will work, but need more time to mature? And which just don’t work, and never will?

After all, no one wants to throw good money after bad ideas.

Adding to the dilemma, few colleges and universities have homogenous student populations. And in an effort to grow their enrollment revenue streams, many have sought to diversify their student body even further by attracting transfer students, adult learners, and part-time students. But experience has shown that a one-size-fits-all approach to student support doesn’t always work for these non-traditional students.

The Best Bang for The Buck

How can we know which students are being helped through these efforts, and which ones still need support? How can an institution allocate funding for student support efforts in an intentional manner during budget season? In order to determine how to support different student populations (first-time vs transfer-in, full-time vs part-time, Pell vs Non-Pell), colleges and universities need a clear understanding of their differing rates of success.

Using IEHE’s RealityCheck tool, institutions can clearly see which student groups are over- and under-performing – taking into account unique institution and student characteristics. There is no additional burden on your data teams, as RealityCheck uses publicly available data. Knowledge is power. And knowing which students can benefit most from investments in their success will result in more informed discussions during budget season.

Even if those discussions still happen more frequently that anyone wants.

RealityCheck Can Support Your Budget Season Decision Making

Find out more about RealityCheck by contacting IEHE. Learn how you can:

  • Use your RealityCheck Report to understand what you’re getting right, and where you have room for improvement.
  • Focus your institution’s limited resources on students who can benefit most from the support.
  • Show others the evidence that your team is making a difference in student success.
  • Better tell your institution’s student success story.


The Institute for Effectiveness in Higher Education (IEHE) innovates and improves higher education standards through our strategic research, publicly available resources, and partnerships with colleges and universities. We provide extensive expertise on data strategy, IPEDS, institutional research and student success to drive institutional effectiveness.