Stanford University belongs to two major data-sharing consortia, COFHE and AAUDE. In the last issue, I described AAUDE, and in this issue I’ll talk about COFHE.
The Consortium on Financing Higher Education – also known as COFHE (pronounced like CO-FEE) – is an institutionally supported organization of thirty-one private colleges and universities. COFHE was formed in 1971, initially funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to examine how selective, private colleges and universities could discuss their commitment to providing exceptional educational opportunities for highly talented students as well as best practices in fiscal management. The nine original “Sloan Study” institutions were joined by additional institutions in 1974 to form COFHE; the current membership stands at thirty-one. The criteria for establishing the COFHE membership were that each institution:
- Be private
- Attract a national undergraduate applicant pool
- Be willing and able to participate actively in the various projects of the Consortium
- Have characteristics enough in common with the other members to permit each school’s inclusion in various cooperative studies
COFHE has historically concentrated on collecting and providing comparative data on admissions and financial aid. It produces each year several “color books” that contain analysis and data on tuition and fees, freshman financial aid, admissions statistics, and how financial aid is financed. These color books go back many years and provide a great source of longitudinal admissions and financial aid data.
COFHE also administers an annual data collection called CIPP—COFHE Institutional Profiles Project. The data collected includes enrollment, endowment, faculty counts , class size, and faculty salaries. (Stanford does not participate in the faculty salaries surveys because COFHE does not mask the data.) The CIPP data is used extensively in the DSS External Statistics Book.
COFHE has recently become well–known for its survey research. COFHE coordinates the survey efforts of its member institutions by providing a common instrument, a web survey service, and delivery of the results. COFHE instruments are used to survey freshmen (every year), seniors (every 2 years), all students (every 4 years), alumni (every 5 years), and parents (every 5 years). Although Stanford would often like to run its own surveys so that the questions are very Stanford specific, we choose to use COFHE surveys for the valuable comparative data they provide. While it is important to know how Stanford is doing, it is very useful to also know how Stanford is doing as compared to its peer institutions.
One last item COFHE produces is an annual “Presidents’ Book”. COFHE chooses a timely topic each year, and produces an in-depth report using COFHE data and other research. Past reports have included “Middle Income Families and COFHE Schools”, “Financial Aid Trends and Implications for COFHE Institutions”, “Participation by Low Income and First Generation Students in COFHE Institutions”, and “Comparative Performance and Outcomes of Under-Represented Minorities at COFHE Schools”.
Other COFHE ad-hoc projects have included staffing, retention, and graduation rates.
Keep COFHE in mind if you need comparative data for selective private colleges and universities, particularly in the areas of admissions, financial aid, and survey research. Contact Rana for more information.