Is your higher ed institution at risk? Use the IVM to find out.

The EY-Parthenon Institutional Viability Metric (IVM) uses data on market demand, student outcomes, and financial position to help higher education leaders get a dynamic view of their institutional health – in time to take strategic and operational action.

Our team created the IVM using publicly available data. Designed to be simple, intuitive, and model real cycles of risk and stability we see in the market, the IVM can help higher education institutions self-assess their level of financial risk.

The metrics that matter

The IVM incorporates six weighted metrics in three categories – financial position, market demand, and delivery and outcomes – to quantify real cycles of financial health experienced by four-year institutions.

Financial position (50%)
  • Profit margin (25%)
  • Reserve ratio: net assets divided by expenses (25%)
Market demand (35%)
  • Annualized total enrollment growth over the past five years (20%)
  • Annualized net tuition and fees per FTE growth over the past five years (15%)
Delivery and outcomes (15%)
  • Six-year Bachelor‘s graduation rate (10%)
  • Full-time retention rate (5%)

For institutions for which all six indicators can be calculated with available data, indicators are scored 1 to 3 and then weighted to arrive at an overall IVM score. Thus, an institution can receive a maximum score of 3 or a minimum score of 1. 

An institution is “At Risk” if it receives an overall IVM score of less than or equal to 2. An institution is placed in the “Monitor” category if it receives an overall IVM between 2 and 2.3. An institution is considered “Stable” if it receives an overall IVM above 2.3.

What the data tells us about the institutional risk landscape

When we apply the IVM to 2019 and 2020 data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), roughly 40% of U.S. higher education institutions are at or nearing financial risk. Toggle through the dynamic views below to see how risk breakdowns vary by year, sector, and state. Risk breakdowns for 2021 are omitted due to distortions from an influx of COVID-19 relief funds.

Evaluate your institution’s risk level with the IVM

Use the self-scoring calculator to evaluate your institution’s risk level. This tool can be used retrospectively by inputting historical values or prospectively using forecasted values.

Use the calculator

Assessing risk with the IVM allows strategic conversations to take place sooner, guiding institutions more effectively toward financial and operational sustainability.

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