Thursday, August 18, 2016

Tuition and Income in the States

Whoa, you might say as you look at this. It's way too funky for me. That's OK; I'm going to show you a new feature in the data visualization tool, Tableau, that I use that will make this all make sense. Hang on.

I wondered: Do states with higher median income levels charge more for tuition?  So I began to explore.

On each dashboard, median family income is displayed on the top chart, and college tuition on the bottom.  The view starts with four-year publics, but you can change it using the filter. The first dashboard shows only the rank of the states, from 1 to 5, with 1 being the high value in each.

If you can't make sense of it, don't worry: Use the little box in the upper right hand corner to select any single state, and that state's data will be instantly highlighted on both the income and the tuition chart.  You can see where a state stands on both measures.

The second dashboard (using the tabs across the top) shows the actual inflation-adjusted values (that is, $57,894 dollars in median family income, or $11,592 of tuition, both set to 2013), but the ranks are also displayed.  Use the state highlighter the same way, and hover over the dot for details. Note on this income chart I've broken one of my cardinal rules by not starting the y-axis at zero, for the sake of clarity.

You can get a sort of affordability index by looking at income ranks in comparison to tuition ranks, and you can see trends in both over time by state.

What do you notice here?

OK.  So maybe that's too funky.  Here's the same view, colored by red (high rank) to blue (low rank). If you like the original, it's below.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

How Many Colleges Are There, Anyway?

A note in response to some questions from IPEDS geeks and others:  My data selection was from 2014 IPEDS data.  I used Title IV participating, US only, all sectors except administrative units.  That resulted in 7,018 institutions.  My visualization shows 6,876 because there were 142 institutions with absolutely no data reported.  I should have defined in my original post.

Also, the selectivity bands are not defined: Cut points are at less than 15%,, 25%, 40%, 60%, and 75%.  All others are "Not selective/Open."

College. University.  We think we know what these terms mean, and yet, any discussion of colleges in the US invariably leads to someone saying, "It depends on what you mean by college."

For instance, there are about 6,900 post-secondary institutions in the US, but only 2,654 offer a bachelor's degree; they enroll 10.5 million of the 17.6 million undergraduates.

Of all the institutions in the US, only 293 enroll at least 15,000 undergraduates, but this small fraction of colleges enrolls almost 40% of the undergraduates.  Conversely, there are over 4,300 options that enroll 1,000 students or fewer, but collectively they enroll only about one million students.  Our nation's public community colleges enroll over 6 million students on just over 1,000 campuses.

This visualization should give you plenty of options to see the shape of the higher education industry in the US: Filter and select to your heart's content, and as always, reset using the controls at the very bottom.

What surprised you?