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NACUBO Research Projects

NACUBO routinely publishes a variety of reports on college and university endowments, tuition discounting, student financial services, and other higher education business and finance issues.

Recently Released Projects

  • 2015 NACUBO Tuition Discounting Study (TDS): This study was released in May 2016. The recent report summarizes the tuition discount rates and other measures of institutional grant spending at private nonprofit colleges and universities in 2015-16, as of the fall of 2015. A press release about the TDS is available from the NACUBO Press Room. Additional information is also available from NACUBO's Tuition Discounting Study page.
  • 2016 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments (NCSE): Recognized as the definitive resource on higher education investments, the NCSE is the most comprehensive endowment performance compendium available. The NCSE offers more than 50 data tables on investment performance, asset allocation, additions to and withdrawals from the investment pools, effective spending rates and spending polices, and investment management policies, practices, and strategies. The 2016 NCSE represents 805 college and university endowments totaling more than $515 billion in assets. The Press Release has summary information about the 2016 NCSE.  More information is available from the NCSE Study page
  • 2016 NACUBO Student Financial Services (SFS) Benchmarking Report: The Student Financial Services Benchmarking Survey examines student financial services operations at a variety of institutions. The 2016 report provides data for fiscal year 2015, and includes data on: unpaid student balances; student accounts in collections; student payment channels; refund payment methods; third-party billing; student financial services staffing; and financial services operating budget per FTE student. The SFS Benchmarking Initiative web page has more information. 
  • 2016 Student Financial Services Policies and Procedures Report: The NACUBO Student Financial Services Policies and Procedures report a supplement to the SFS Benchmarking Report, summarizes data on a wide range of college and university financial service issues. The information collected provide insights into the activities, systems, and practices from NACUBO-member institutions from across the country. The review of tuition structures, collections procedures, financial literacy programs, as well as many other facets of the student financial services framework is meant to aid policy makers within academic institutions in shaping business practices that more effectively meet the needs of schools and students alike. A Press Release highlights the findings of the study. Plesae go the NACUBO Online Research Products page to order a copy of this report. 
  • The 2016 National Profile of Higher Education Chief Business/Financial Officers: The CFO/CBO National Profile report, supported by TIAA, provides information on CFOs' career paths, levels of job satisfaction, and plans for future career advancement, as well as demograhic and other information. Go the the 2016 NACUBO CBO/CFO National Profile Products Page for more details about the CBO/CFO National Profile.
  • AGB/NACUBO Looking Under the Hood Institutional Aid Metrics Project:  With funding from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation and additiional support from The College Board, NACUBO and the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges launched the Looking Under the Hood Institutional Aid Metrics Project in 2012. The key component of the project is the development of a set of institutional grant aid metrics that enable higher education CBOs, presidents, and board members to examine their current institutional grant aid allocations and policies, and to better plan their future institutional aid decisions. These metrics are designed to help leaders gain a greater understanding of the impact of their institutional aid policies and practices. Examples of metrics include: total institutional grant aid per full-time equivalent student; percentage of institutional grant dollars awarded based on students' demonstrated financial need; and total institutional grant expenditures as a share of total institutional operating expenses. See the April 2014 edition of Business Officer Magazine for a detailed summary of the project. A summary of the project is also available from AGB's Trusteeship Magazine. AGB and NACUBO have issued a comprehensive summary report about the project to the Woodruff Foundation. The Looking Under the Hood Project page contains additinoal information. 

Completed Projects: 2004 to 2008 

  • NACUBO Benchmarking for Student Financial Services: The 2008 Student Financial Services Benchmarking survey report provides an analysis of FY08 data from 148 institutions respondents in areas such as unpaid balances and collections, student payments, student refunds, outstanding account receivables, third-party sponsored accounts, and financial services staff training and years of employment. The report compares institutional responses across many different categories, including: affiliation, sector, constituent group, Carnegie class, and enrollment size.
  • NACUBO/COHEAO Survey on Perkins Loan Shortfalls (2008): In April/May 2008, NACUBO partnered with the Coalition of Higher Education Assistance Organizations (COHEAO), an organization of institutions and servicers focused on campus-based loan programs, to survey NACUBO-member institutions that participated in the Perkins Loan program during academic year 2006-07. The survey and findings explore how many institutions expected to have a shortfall in their Federal Perkins Loan funds at the end of the current award year, as well as the estimated amount of money available for institutions to lend in academic year 2008-09.
  • Student Financial Services Survey (2007): NACUBO surveyed student financial service professionals at member institutions on the types of financial services provided to students; accepted methods of payment for tuition and fees; number of third-party payors; and level of integration of student financial services. A report--Designed to Serve: 2007 NACUBO Student Financial Services Survey--highlights the major findings of the survey.
  • Valuation of Land and Other Real Estate Held as InvestmentsIn January 2007, NACUBO surveyed its member public institutions on their practices of valuing land within their investment portfolios. A brief summary of the findings are included in the above bulletin. Since the survey, the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) has issued an Exposure Draft that would require permanent and term endowment funds to report land and other real estate held as investments at fair market value. In response to this draft, NACUBO submitted a comment letter to the GASB on behalf of its members.
  • Public Flagship Institutions Survey (2007): NACUBO's Research Universities Council asked all 102 member public research-extensive universities to complete this survey in order to explore the level of autonomy public research institutions have in academic, fiscal, and administrative areas, as well as how many institutions had legislation approved to increase their fiscal and or managerial autonomy. A report —“The Evolving Relationship: Public Institutions and Their States”—highlights the major findings of the survey.
  • NACUBO/AGB Survey on College Cost Oversight (2007): NACUBO partnered with the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) to conduct a survey about best practices in working with boards on financial issues, common performance indicators, areas where trustee education is needed, and other ways to improve institutional success in the area of college costs. As part of the AGB Cost Project, a paper discussing the results is available as is a summary of the survey data.
  • Hazardous Waste Survey (2005): NACUBO surveyed members about the hazardous waste management function at their institutions as part of our ongoing efforts to inform the Environmental Protection Agency about the difficulties of applying some waste management rules to academic labs. Completed surveys were submitted by 395 institutions. Full descriptive results of the survey are available.

  • The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002: Recommendations for Higher Education (2004): NACUBO and the Accounting Principles Council designed a member survey around NACUBO Advisory Report 2003-3, The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002: Recommendations for Higher Education, to gauge practices currently in place and learn about future plans on campuses. Completed surveys were submitted by 353 institutions. Full descriptive results of the survey are available. An article based on the survey results, "On the Transparency Track," was published in Business Officer (May 2005).
  • Internal Financial Reporting Survey (2004): NACUBO collected data from controllers regarding the increasing pressure on the business office to provide management and stakeholders with financial management information. The purpose of the survey was to assess current industry practices with regards to internal financial reporting. Completed surveys were submitted by 662 institutions. Survey results are available.
  • Institutional Performance Measurement Survey (2004): NACUBO collected data from members regarding the use and reporting of performance measures by colleges and universities. The survey asked about the use of internal and external performance reporting, the opinions on and use of several categories of measures, how closely what is being reported correlates to what should be reported, and opinions and self-reported achievement of the GASB suggested criteria for performance reporting and related issues. Selected results are available.
  • 1098-T Reporting Survey (2004): The survey collected information on participants’ experiences with the implementation of 1098-T financial reporting. The results of the NACUBO 1098-T survey indicate that the first year of the IRS reporting requirements created challenges for responding institutions. A full analysis of the survey results is available. Further information about 1098-T reporting is available on the Education Tax Credits Resource Page.

Past Projects (Prior to 2004):

  • Tuition Payment by Credit Card Survey (2003): In July and August 2003, NACUBO collected data from its members regarding their acceptance of credit card payments for tuition and fees. Nearly 500 institutions completed the survey, providing information regarding all aspects of accepting credit cards for tuition and fees on college and university campuses. A report detailing the survey results is available. An article based on the survey results, "Paying with Plastic," was published in Business Officer (April 2004).
  • IT Funding Survey (2003): NACUBO and the EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research (ECAR) conducted a study to determine how IT funding priorities are established and implemented on college and university campuses. The report, Information Technology Funding in Higher Education, explores this critical issue with both CIO’s and CBO’s to provide an institutional assessment of IT budgets, funding, and investment decision-making practices.
  • Cost of College Study (2002): The NACUBO Cost of College Project developed a common methodology for use by any college or university to calculate the average annual cost of providing a single year of undergraduate education. Use of the method assists institutional representatives in displaying data about the major expenditures it makes during the year and explaining the institution incurs in the context of its mission and undergraduate education programs. This study was completed in February 2002.
  • Comparative Financial Statistics (1998): The last collection period was for fiscal year 1998 data. The Comparative Financial Statistics study provides institutions with an opportunity to conduct peer analyses useful to institutional decision-making. It draws primarily from data collected by the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).


Ken Redd
Director, Research and Policy Analysis