Community College Applies Business Intelligence to Finance and Student Retention

Broward Community College in Ft. Lauderdale, FL said it is using business intelligence software from SAS to better manage finances and increase enrollment. With eight campuses, BCC must collect, analyze, and report on financial and student data to justify state funding and compete with other educational institutions.

BCC used to struggle with a time-consuming financial reporting that was prone to inaccuracies. "It used to take us four to six weeks to pull our financial data together into a spreadsheet and another three to four weeks to put the financial report together," said Patti Barney, BCC vice president of Information Technology. "Now, using SAS, we can produce multiple reports in a single day with all of the required information right on our desktop."

With SAS Financial Management, staff monitor financial reports, analyze operational effectiveness, and generate ad hoc reports, reporting data at the college level, by campus and by individual department and cost center.

The college also uses SAS software to understand why some students succeed more than others for its Achieving the Dream program, which comprises 136 students. Drawing intelligence from a variety of systems, such as student information, financial aid, course management, faculty reports, human resources, and budgeting, BCC tracks their success. The insights gleaned helps the college know when to intervene to help students stay on track, earn degrees, and ultimately transition to four-year institutions or the work force.

At BCC, the Achieving the Dream students boast a 92 percent retention rate, said Matthew Seeman, BCC information analyst. "Four out of the seven learning communities had 100 percent retention," he added. "Out of 136 students, only seven withdrew."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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