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By Lucas Ashby, Nicole E. Cote, Kelly Cotton, Yuxiao Luo, Zoë Markovits, and Eva Sibinga

I. Introduction

The City University of New York (CUNY) System

The City University of New York (CUNY) system is massive and diverse, serving disparate communities throughout the New York metropolitan area. With twenty-five campuses across all five boroughs, over 270,000 students,and 45,000 staff, CUNY is not only important in its function as an educational institution (offering opportunities for teaching, learning, and social mobility), but also as an employer and, most significantly, as a community. CUNY is inextricable from New York City’s economy and culture. In fact, 60% of NYC public school students who go to college attend CUNY—26,000 students in 2017. And, approximately 70% of CUNY graduates stay in the New York metropolitan area after graduation. As such, hundreds of thousands of NYC-area residents rely on important CUNY infrastructure, from libraries and computer labs (which, in many cases provide essential internet access unavailable at home) to daycares and food pantries.  

The Transition to Online Learning

In the wake of the 2020 Coronavirus Pandemic, on March 19, 2020 CUNY began to move to distance learning. Under-prepared for this transition, less than two weeks later on March 27, 16 campuses experienced a Recalibration Period/”Pause for Educational Equity” — pausing classes once again with little warning. Among other issues, delays were caused by an initial plan to use CUNY buildings citywide to get resources (such as IT loaner equipment) to any CUNY student, regardless of their home institution. It became clear, however, that this plan was untenable given social distancing and stay at home requirements, and as the logistics for distributing materials became more complicated, warranting the Pause for Educational Equity. Other measures CUNY has since implemented include offering Credit/No Credit grading

Goal of this Report 

One reading of this messy transition to distance learning and work-at-home measures might be that the data CUNY collects on its community is inadequate for properly assessing needs in times of crisis.

The researchers of this report, six CUNY graduate students, do not pretend to represent all (or even most) students at CUNY. We have not experienced many of the serious issues that others in our community are facing—regarding technological access or continued ability to participate in our educational programs—and were able to move our collaboration online. But, we all know students for whom that is not true. 

As such, we sought to try to understand our community in this moment through an investigation into the data that CUNY collects as an institution. We wanted to try to see CUNY through the information it collects. We endeavored to determine what helpful narratives might be gleaned from what is collected, and those that are missing—narratives that might better help CUNY prepare for this kind of situation in the future. Some questions that prompted this preliminary research project include: 

  • What are key data points for understanding our community at this moment?
  • Does CUNY collect telling data that might be engaged in times of crisis?
  • What data points might be useful to add to the data CUNY collects?

This work relies on the assumption that an adequate understanding of the CUNY community and its needs should drive institutional decision making. It relies on the philosophy that it is the responsibility of those who have been able to continue our CUNY work to promote such access for others. 

This report shows what we, in a few weeks time, have been able to determine and some of the questions that remain. 

Data Consulted

This report relied primarily on the Student Experience Survey created by CUNY’s Office of Institutional research some research engagees the 2016 survey and some the 2018 survey. The disparity in years is because of the timing of the report. The 2018 is still not available publicly–though we were able to gain access to some data. As we wanted to remain as up-to-date as possible and pulled-in the 2018 information whenever possible.  US Census data and the #RealCollege survey were also incorporated. 

A full list of data sources used is available at the end of this report. 

II. Household Composition, Health, and Caretaking

Now that all learning is taking place remotely, we wondered how this uniquely affects those students who split their time between ”attending” school and caretaking—as well as those who might now be caretakers to sick household members. We considered four types of care: childcare, eldercare, horizontal care, and care of those with disabilities in our effort to understand the CUNY community during this moment. 

Digging into CUNY’s Ability to Determine its Community’s Needs During Coronavirus

The data that CUNY collects on its community offers a limited perspective on how students might serve as caregivers. More robust data could allow CUNY to better consider coronavirus’ impact on our community, and new needs our community has that CUNY should account for when planning both for the upcoming semester and for future emergency situations. It is no secret that many in the CUNY community were not pleased with how the response to the pandemic played out, raising the question of whether or not CUNY really knows the community it serves. An initial analysis of the CUNY Student Experience Survey, in connection with US Census data for comparison, shows that the data CUNY collects are actually less telling than that of the US Census, and even that does not really tell CUNY leaders what they need to know to make better, inclusive, and thoughtful decisions about their community. Decisions that affect us all. We cannot begin to answer our needs if we do not start asking the right questions. By examining four care categories (childcare, horizontal care, disability, and elderly populations) we are endeavoring to start to understand the CUNY community during this moment, and suggesting areas where different data is needed: what more CUNY needs to understand. 

Household Composition

The CUNY Student Experience Survey shows that only 6% of students in CUNY senior colleges live alone. The US Census Bureau estimates that around 30% of NYC area households include one or more family members that are under age 18, and around 31% of households have one or more members who are age 65 and over. Individuals who are 65+ are considered “high risk” for coronavirus. One such metric that we do not know, for example, is how many CUNY students might be themselves, might live-with, or be caregivers to: high risk individuals, those with a disability, healthcare workers, food service providers, or teachers. CUNY also is not aware about important factors such as: if working members of the household were furloughed or laid-off it would cause an immediate financial concern—causing students to be unable to afford tuition, rent, or basic necessities. 

CUNY Household Composition
NYC Household Composition

Issues with Childcare 

CUNY does ask if students live-with or financially support children, and if students use our (now closed) childcare facilities. However, what about asking questions like: would being able to support your children financially be an immediate concern during a stay-at-home order? Or, if childcare facilities were to close would this impact your ability to study/work at CUNY? Do you have a secondary childcare option? Or, even, what ways CUNY might improve their services to meet new needs. Should CUNY Libraries, for example, provide access to educational or entertainment online resources for kids (i.e. games, e-books, videos)?

Childcare at CUNY

Some Health Considerations

CUNY asks general questions such as if a student is aware they have a disability and, if so, if they have registered their disability with their school’s Accessibility Office. However, most students who identify as having a disability respond “no” to alerting their school’s Accessibility Office. This prompts questions of why students do not find value in this CUNY resource, and seems like an area to better understand if CUNY is to provide essential resources to their community during this moment.  

Disability at CUNY

The Census Bureau estimates that over 10% of the NYC Metro Area’s total population lives with a disability. That figure leaps to around 32% for the 65 and above population. Folks with disabilities or other important medical needs, have: a great need to avoid infection, less resources if they get sick (and already high medical bills), fear that existing required healthcare needs (incl. life saving needs) will not be able to be met, schools, programs, and other services for disabled people are closing during the pandemic, and they might not be able to wait in lines for groceries or even get to the store. It is unquestionable that folks considered high-risk and those with a disability have additional life-imperative needs during this moment, which cannot only affect students’ ability to complete coursework and participate in our community—but  their ability to survive and access imperative services. 

(See Andrew Pulrang’s many articles in Forbes for a more-detailed understanding of disability concerns in the time of coronavirus).

Disability in NYC

Questions CUNY Needs to Consider 

Some preliminary considerations for CUNY in regards to household composition, care, and health have already been offered. However, an overview and other additional related questions CUNY might ask to better understand their community’s needs in times of crisis include:  

  • What percentage of CUNY students and/or household members are deemed “high risk” or considered essential workers in times of crisis. 
  • How should important CUNY departments such as the library, childcare, or the Office of Accessibility offer resources to the community in times of crisis? 
  • Do CUNY students or someone that they either live with or provide care for require medication (that is life-saving or necessary for daily life/personal well-being)? 
  • If CUNY organized ways to provide essential healthcare (i.e. medication/access for those with limited mobility/health services) would students use this service? 
  • Are CUNY students aware of free existing services provided in the city for health/disability/mobility/”high risk”/ mental health issues? 
  • What are other ways that CUNY can better assist those in its community with such care-related issues during times of social distancing?

III. Educational Access and Attainment in Distance Learning

Access to Technology

Now that all learning is distance learning, educational access gaps may continue to widen. A significant issue lies in technology access: with solely online courses, how can students without a computer at all, a computer for their own individual use, or reliable internet at home participate in class discussion and complete assignments? 

Across the CUNY system, 78% of students used on-campus computer labs, according to the 2016 Student Experience Survey, and 7% of these students report having no computer at home, while 4% reported having no home internet. 4-7% of the CUNY population is both a significant figure, and an imperative consideration in educational equality in this transition. Given the present pandemic, CUNY has taken steps to address this disparity by purchasing and beginning to distribute 30,000 laptops for students who request them. Information on how many students have yet actually received a laptop, however, has not been made publicly available. As has been mentioned, access to IT loaner materials was an important factor in the Pause for Educational Equity. Having a sense of how technologies have been rolled out, the success of such endeavors, and potential new online-related materials that might now be needed, are important for planning for future crises.  

According to confirmed and probable covid-related deaths, as reported by NYC Public Health data, coronavirus has not affected each borough equally. The Bronx leads in infections per capita, while Manhattan is reported to have had the lowest infection rate. Internet access is also not even across all boroughs or neighborhoods. Although we do not have access to student residency data, we can get a general picture of disparities in technology access by borough using the 2016 Student Experience Survey. First, which students use on-campus computer labs? Bronx and Manhattan schools students report using computer labs the most: 82.3% and 80.2%, respectively. Queens and Brooklyn students report slightly lower percentages: 76.0% and 75.8%. Staten Island (represented by only one school, the College of Staten Island) has the lowest, although still very high, percentage of students using on-campus computer labs: 74%. 

Students have reported using these services for different reasons, for example: lack of home technology or access to software, but we wondered if such reasons differ across boroughs. Of students who use on-campus computer labs, Bronx and Brooklyn students report the most issues with technology access: 12% of Bronx and 9% of Brooklyn students report having no home computer. Manhattan (7%), Queens (7%), and Staten Island (5%) report lower numbers. A similar pattern emerges for home internet (Bronx: 6%, Brooklyn: 5%, Manhattan: 4%, Queens: 4%, and Staten Island: 2%). 

Technology Access at CUNY

Importantly, the data reported in the Student Experience Survey is incomplete. It may not reflect students who consider a smartphone or tablet to be a home computer, even though such devices are surely inadequate for completing all schooling online. It also does not reflect the quality of the home internet or the number of people in the household who need to use the same device (an important consideration given that 30% of CUNY students report living in households of four or more people). 

And, while CUNY is attempting to address the issue of a home computer for coursework, by offering loaner laptops, how might they be able to handle dealing with the issue of no internet? In situations of affordability, CUNY might provide grants to pay for internet fees, or could loan routers as well as laptops. Spotty service, however, is a bigger issue, but one for which CUNY should still understand the effects on its community—especially as CUNY is a publicly funded institution where the city/state might investigate disparities in internet availability.  

As mentioned previously, we do not have access to student residency data for every CUNY school. Some schools (Brooklyn College and Hunter College) do make this data available. What these numbers tell us: most Brooklyn College students live in Brooklyn (73%), while few Hunter College students live in Manhattan (15%)—perhaps unsurprising statistics. While we wonder how accurate, or even useful, it is to make inferences about students based on the location of their schools compared to their residences, we also wonder (for example) how students who live far away from their campuses are able to access the resources their colleges provide them.

Housing Insecurity 

Exploring CUNY student data for this coronavirus-related project made visible the ways in which data collection related to student housing security is actually deeply connected to questions of student “success” (where “success” is often a proxy for course and degree completion). With students learning from home, though, the level to which education hinges upon the precarity and density of student housing is even more relevant. Were CUNY to collect data that considered multiple intersections of housing stability, we could make more informed decisions about where and how to deploy student support services to ensure student “success” in distance learning, as well as more nuanced and informed means of determining or considering ideas of “success” in such contexts. 

Homelessness at CUNY

Technology access is certainly not the only thing that can complicate a student’s ability to engage in distance learning. Housing insecurity and homelessness can also make distance learning particularly difficult. Across the CUNY system, 55% of students report some kind of housing insecurity. Additionally, 14% of CUNY students report some kind of homelessness, according to the #RealCollege survey. Such statistics prompt questions of what this kind of educational access looks like and how CUNY is supporting these students beyond offering loaner laptops. The 2018 Student Experience Survey asks a broad question about housing insecurity: “In the past 12 months, how often were you worried about having enough money to pay your housing costs, such as your rent or mortgage?” Answers across all CUNY schools: Never (28%), Rarely (17%), Sometimes (29%), Usually (12%), and Always (13%). While it is important that CUNY recognizes that housing insecurity is a concern for the majority of its students, two questions (the second being simply a vague Yes/No: “Do you currently have a regular and adequate place to sleep?”) lack the nuance required to really address the needs of the students, particularly in the present pandemic.

For example, most students experiencing housing insecurity reported rent as being the cause of the insecurity (30% said rent increases made it difficult to pay, and 26% reported not paying their full rent). Given social distancing measures shuttering non-essential businesses, how many students have lost, or expect to lose, their jobs due to the pandemic and will now be unable to pay rent? Pre-coronavirus, 54% of CUNY students report working, where 79% of working students reportedly do so in order to afford living expenses. And, whereas many of these students may lose their jobs, others may be unable to afford college and could be forced to take a semester or more off—or forego continuing higher education altogether.

Housing Insecurity at CUNY

On the other hand, we acknowledge that for students working in certain sectors, such as in grocery stores, it could be possible that they are actually working more, and now have less time for schoolwork. What types of jobs do CUNY students have, essential or non-essential, and does CUNY know? And, what might be made of the fact that basic demographics of frontline workers in NYC and CUNY students seem to be oddly comparable (e.g., 63% of frontline workers and 58% of CUNY students are female, 75% of frontline workers and 77% of CUNY students are people of color, & etc). While it is undoubtedly an interesting connection at the very least, the truth is that such speculation would not be necessary if CUNY had simply collected more telling information. When realizing that more than half of working students reported working 21 hours or more before the coronavirus pandemic, it is essential to ask how their workload has changed. Such answers cannot be found in the data collected, but are certainly important for CUNY to know in order to best accommodate its students. 

Questions CUNY Needs to Consider

  1. How many students actually have technology access issues? What are students currently using for online learning (smartphone/tablet vs. shared computer vs. personal laptop; high-speed internet vs. poor internet vs. public internet)? 
  2. Are students able to access their campus resources if they do not live near campus?
  3. What types of housing insecurities do students face, how might those change as the coronavirus pandemic continues, and how are they impacting students’ ability to engage in distance learning?
  4. What types of jobs do students work and how have their hours changed? How many students are now unemployed (and experiencing new housing insecurities, financial difficulties that might impact their ability to pay tuition, increased stress levels, & etc.); and, how many students are essential employees who now have increased workloads and less time to complete schoolwork?

IV. Unemployment Rate, Financial Impact, and Student Retention/Enrollment

Finally, we tried to, at least preliminarily with the data available, think into the impact the coronavirus pandemic might have on CUNY’s financial security (in terms of student retention and enrollment) by exploring some effects the 2007-08 financial crisis had on CUNY and other New York colleges and universities. The financial crisis highlighted several vulnerabilities in CUNY’s financial structure that the ongoing crisis has the potential to exacerbate, and are worthy of consideration. Since the current coronavirus pandemic is a public health crisis, we realize it is not directly comparable; however, as this pandemic has trended toward an economic crisis, data from the last recession may prove predictive, or at the very least telling, when considering the possible effects of coronavirus.

Unemployment Rate and Retention Rate at CUNY Colleges

We first analyzed the relationship between historical NYC unemployment rates and the 1-year retention rates of 16 CUNY colleges to see if there was a correlation between changes in unemployment and retention.1 To evaluate, we made a correlation matrix using the Pearson correlation coefficient and performed a significance test (T-test). Correlation coefficients with a P-value greater than 0.05 are crossed-out as non-significant.2 

CUNY Correlation Matrix

The correlation matrix and significance test ultimately shows no statistically significant correlation between the 1-year retention rate of any CUNY campus and the unemployment rate. There are, though, some notable correlations between the 1-year retention rate of two different CUNY campuses.3 One potential explanation may be that many students in both schools receive the same scholarships, and may be equally affected when there is a change or cutoff.

Comparing CUNY’s Retention Rate and Retention Rate at NYS colleges

The chart below visualizes the 1-year retention rate of the 16 CUNY colleges previously mentioned, 10 other non-CUNY schools in New York City, and the annual unemployment rate of New York City. During the 2007-2008 financial crisis, the 1-year retention rate fluctuates compared to the 2013-2016 period for all schools. But, the range of the change is limited within 5% for most schools (i.e. Columbia, Rochester, NYU, CUNY). More surprisingly, CUNY is not as negatively affected, comparably, and its average 1-year retention rate rises more than 5% during that period. The average annual unemployment percent in NYC nearly doubled from 2008 to 2009, and took until 2015 to return to pre-recession levels, while CUNY’s 1-year retention rate remained around 75%. In years following the 2008 financial crisis, CUNY maintained the lowest 1-year retention rate from 2004 to 2016, (except 2008, 2010 and 2012).4 

To consider why the high unemployment rate caused by the 2007 financial crisis may have had a less-significant effect on CUNY, comparatively, we offer the following: 

  1. Tuition for public schools like CUNY is lower than for-profit schools, making the educational expenses more affordable during the crisis period; 
  2. It’s possible that CUNY made other related changes that attracted more students to stay starting from 2007 (however, more data needs to be collected to verify); 
  3. CUNY is large and diverse. With many different and diversified (e.g. community colleges and senior colleges, granting a broad range of degrees), the risks are also hedged. 
Non-CUNY Schools Retention

Additional potential evidence for the first and second reasons above might include: enrollment at CUNY increased nearly 5% between 2007 and 2008, and 6.2% from 2008 to 2009 (even with a 15% tuition increase in Fall 2009). However, NYU saw a less than 1% enrollment increase from 2007 to 2008 (less than half of the previous year’s increase), and Columbia saw a 2.1% increase in the same period (which appears to be normal).

CUNY’s enrollment totals have seemingly remained consistent or increased. Additionally, CUNY’s total revenue for the period of the crisis and after reveals, relatively, steady growth. New York state and city appropriations continued to increase, though at reduced rates and, at least in 2009 and 2010, despite mid-year state budget reductions. Tuition revenue continued to increase through the recession as well. This can be contrasted with CUNY’s net investment income and net appreciation (or depreciation) in the fair value of their investments during the same period—though the amount of money CUNY lost via investments ends up being trivial when factored into total revenue.

CUNY Revenue

Contrasting CUNY Schools

In creating a picture of CUNY’s overall student retention rate when compared to relative unemployment levels, we learned that not all campuses experience financial distress in the same way. We visualized the year-over-year retention rate of each CUNY campus between 2004 and 2016 in correlation to the changing rate of unemployment in the state over the same period of time (CUNY Schools Retention, below).

We found that the reason CUNY could maintain a relatively stable 1-year retention rate during the financial crisis is not because all the campuses are stable. Instead, CUNY schools with a 1-year retention rate under 70% (i.e. Borough of Manhattan Community College and Bronx Community College) fluctuated more heavily than CUNY schools with a 1-year retention rate above 80% (i.e. Baruch College and Queens College) and the range of change can go up to 15%, which is higher than the 8% of the other CUNY campuses like Baruch College and Queens College. This evidence suggests that CUNY community colleges are more likely to be affected by surging unemployment rates caused by crises. 

CUNY Schools Retention

CUNY schools seemingly divide into two distinct categories: those with a 1-year retention rate higher than 80% and those with retention rates between 50% and 70%. A widening gap in student enrollment between the >70% retention campuses (i.e.. Baruch, Hunter, and Brooklyn) and the 50-70% retention campuses (i.e. Bronx CC, Laguardia CC), raises the question of the degree to which aggregating data at this level to represent CUNY as one entity obscures a much more revealing picture about inequities across campuses. Each school has a different story to tell, and though CUNY overall may have maintained a “stable” 1-year retention rate during the 2008 financial crisis because its numerous campuses are highly diversified. The different CUNY schools were affected differently (positively or negatively) during the high unemployment rate period. Any similar effects resulting from the coronavirus pandemic may also be unevenly distributed among the CUNY schools, prompting questions of what we might hope to glean from the 2008 financial crisis that could be instructive for us in our current situation. 

Questions/Observations CUNY Needs to Consider

CUNY weathered the storm of the last recession largely because funding from the city and state remained relatively level, even in the worst of times, while enrollment and tuition revenue increased, despite a fairly substantial hike to the cost of tuition, and its 1-year retention rate remained nearly flat. It is possible the coronavirus pandemic, as a public health and economic crisis, may negatively affect each of those metrics, or may simply stress each of them just enough to cause a larger funding problem. Reduced overall state funding as a result of mid-year budget cuts is certainly possible. Enrollment, tuition revenue, and 1-year retention rate may temporarily decrease if in-person classes are suspended for the fall. Or, they might increase if a broader group of students now find CUNY an affordable or less-risky option in times of global crisis. If, say, CUNY attracts students who might have originally gone to Pace, Fordham, or NYU. 

With possible delayed start dates and courses continued online in the fall, students and families will need to leverage the exorbitant tuition costs for classes elsewhere, deferring enrollment, or choosing affordable options like CUNY. Students, particularly those living far from campus, may conceivably go the full fall semester, or even year, without meeting any of their classmates or professors in person. Is that semester worth a $30,000+ tuition cost? What about the state-of-the-art libraries, laboratories, coding spaces, athletic facilities, dining halls, and dormitories that elite colleges have been competitively building, arms-race style, for the last thirty years? If courses are online, these glamorous amenities may end up being a hindrance next year, in maintenance costs alone, particularly for mid-range for-profit schools that have invested significant money in such facilities to compete with ivies for students.

That said, what the numbers CUNY collects do not seem to show is whether or not the median income level of the CUNY student goes up or down during times of external financial stress. It is worth asking:

  • Does CUNY always serve the most financially vulnerable, and does that remain the case during a recession or high unemployment? 
  • Or, do students in the most fragile economic situations disappear from view while the overall income base for the students who do enroll increases?

It is also possible that enrollment could increase because of online courses—where students who may have not previously enrolled in coursework are able to do so—because they are online. Questions about affordability and the desire to attend CUNY are surly linked to the aforementioned issues of housing security, internet access, student employment, and care-related concerns that might impact students’ financial and personal situations. And, while it may be the case that CUNY, as a whole, could experience less adverse effects than mid-range for-profit schools, it seems likely that the effect of the coronavirus pandemic will likely be unevenly distributed among CUNY schools. CUNY community colleges with 1-year retention rates less than the CUNY average are more vulnerable than CUNY senior colleges as their 1-year retention will likely be affected more negatively by a high unemployment rate. The disparity amongst CUNY schools, and the effect such financial impacts could have on the broader community, as well as the personal and even detrimental impact on the individuals who work and learn at those institutions, should be deeply questioned and investigated by CUNY.   

V. Conclusion: Thinking to the Future 

While CUNY has firmly shut its doors for the spring and summer semesters, what does Fall 2020 look like for students? Our assumption is that the long-term goal is for CUNY operations to return to something we recognize as “normal.” But what does “normal” mean to CUNY students based on the narratives we are able to know (and those that remain unknown) given the data employed in this report—data about students’ housing and financial status, potential care and health concerns, and possible impacts of institutional finances—all of which can and should inform the ways we plan to “open” campuses? 

In asking such questions we should resist the urge (or habit) to label all such realities simply “challenges.” As Brooklyn College professor Corey Robin writes in his call to resurrect the public university, “the question of reopening has produced dozens of proposals, but most of them are tenable only for schools like Brown; they don’t obtain in the context of Brooklyn College.” 

For example, unlike Brown, as far as CUNY is concerned, many dorm buildings do not provide housing exclusively to students of one campus. Dorm residents may be students of other CUNY colleges, non-CUNY universities, or even “students and interns from around the world.” The so-called housing challenges of CUNY are, sometimes, what makes it successful for its students: the model of universities largely expecting students to fully “opt in” to campus-based housing, life, and activities is precisely the reason that some students will never find Brown a viable option. At the same time, however, the decentralized nature of CUNY student residences means that students will have vastly different living conditions and access to resources. Students who do not live in CUNY-affiliated dorms, the vast majority of those enrolled, may or may not have an understanding landlord. They may live with an elderly relative, a sick parent, or another individual who requires care, or they may not. They may live on a subway line whose commuters are largely able to work from home, or they may not. They may have reliable internet and a computer of their own, or they may not. 

CUNY’s coronavirus response must take into account and seek to better understand these unknown diverse realities. The challenges and successes CUNY students face need to be significantly engaged in both planning for the fall and for future crises. In order to determine the best ways to support student learning as we work our way back to “normal,” CUNY needs to consider the data it collects. The point of data collection should be to find ways to facilitate care and support—an attempt to understand community needs. It’s what data collection in the “student experience survey” might look like if caring for students was more important than merely reporting on existing activities to the state.

Acknowledgments

The Data for Public Good Fellows thank the GC Digital Initiatives (GCDI) at The Graduate Center, CUNY and faculty advisers Lisa Rhody and Stephen Zweibel for this opportunity.

End Notes

1 Baruch College, Borough of Manhattan Community College, Bronx Community College, Brooklyn College, City College, Hostos Community College, Hunter College,  John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Kingsborough Community College, LaGuardia Community College, Lehman College, Medgar Evers College, Queensborough Community College, Queens College, York College. Note: These colleges were chosen because their retention rate data are available from 1990 – 2016, covering a whole economic cycle.

2 Note: confidence level is 95%.

3 For example, the correlation of 1-year retention rate between York College and Queens College is 0.84 and the correlation of 1-year retention rate between John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Queens College is 0.87.

4 To provide context, one reason mid-range for-profit universities like Pace may be more affected in such crises than schools, like Columbia, could be the grants that students receive from each school. Highly funded schools like Columbia offer many scholarships, suggesting their students may be less affected. (Columbia is among the schools getting most money from the federal government in fiscal 2011, for example). Therefore, the pandemic is more likely to negatively affect the 1-year retention rate of mid-range for-profit schools since tuition is higher than public schools and the amount of grants provided is less than at the highly-funded schools. 

Other Works Referenced 

Data Sources:

  • 2018 US Census Data on Households by Type. Accessed 13 May 2020.  
  • CUNY Student Experience Survey 2016 and 2018. (*note: 2018 appears not to be available, but is accessible through the 2016 Tableau link, which can be used to navigate to the main CUNY Tableau page, which does host the information).