Do you know how many students transfer out of your institution after experiencing sexual assault? If 37.2% of college students transfer at least once within six years, how much of that is related to sexual assault?
A new EVERFI tool begins to explore the institutional impact of sexual assault, estimating the revenue lost as a result of students who transfer out of their institution for reasons related to sexual assault. The calculator allows campus administrators to input their institution-specific data and produce a customized estimate of lost tuition dollars, providing a powerful and often surprising new perspective on why prevention is critical to the mission (and the bottom line of) higher education institutions.
Before we dive into the tool, let’s back up and look at why this is something institutions should be measuring. EVERFI’s Climate Survey data demonstrate that students who experience sexual assault think about transferring more frequently than students who have not experienced a sexual assault. Among students who have not experienced sexual assault, 24% “occasionally” or “frequently” think about transferring, but among survivors of sexual assault, that number jumps up to 39%. Put another way, sexual assault survivors are 63% more likely to consider transferring to a new school.
When students transfer out of our institutions, we may collect exit survey data on why they are leaving, but sexual assault is not typically a reason that is listed as an option. However, campuses that use climate surveys are including questions that ask transfer students about their experiences related to sexual assault that occurred prior to their arrival on campus.
As alluded to above, EVERFI’s Climate Survey data reveal the lifetime prevalence of sexual assault for female transfer students is 37%, while the prevalence among non-transfer female students is 25.5%. So, the lifetime prevalence of sexual assault is 11.5 percentage points higher for female transfer students. Using the same data, we found that lifetime sexual assault rates for male transfer students are 14.4%, while the prevalence among non-transfer male students is 10%, so the lifetime prevalence of sexual assault is 4.4 percentage points higher for male transfer students.
The next step to get to the estimated percent of transfers that are related to sexual assault is to make a few of assumptions that are listed below:
- First, we are assuming that the rate of childhood sexual assault is similar for transfer students and non-transfer students.
- The second assumption, the difference between the prevalence of sexual assault among transfer students and non-transfer students, the 11.5% for female transfers and the 4.4% for male transfers, is the heightened rate of sexual assault that occurred at a prior institution among transfer students.
- The final assumption is that these students who experienced sexual assault at a prior institution transfer for a reason related to that experience.
If the above assumptions hold true, by measuring the difference in prior sexual assault prevalence rates among transfer students compared to non-transfer students, we can estimate that 11.5% of females and 4.4% of males transfer as a result of (or related to) a sexual assault. Our tool takes a slightly more conservative approach, reducing each of these data points by 10%, resulting in estimates of 10% for females and 4% for males.
Let’s take a look at how the calculator works. The first input is the number of first-year male and female students at the institution. Because sexual assault impacts males and females at different rates, and in order to get a more accurate estimate of transfers related to sexual assault, the tool runs separate calculations to capture transfers of both males and females.
An important side note is that the calculator only takes into account first-year transfers—students that leave after their first year. That is fairly standard in the retention field, but it is important to note that because subsequent years’ transfer rates are not included, the tool will actually underestimate the total transfer revenue lost.
The next two inputs are the institution’s transfer rates for females and males and the amount of money the institution loses when these students transfer out. To estimate the dollar amount, institutions should use net tuition per student which is publicly available through the Delta Cost Project (a dataset that collected to discover trends in college spending).
From there, the calculator runs, using the figures and assumptions outlined above, to determine the number of students who transfer each year from sexual assault-related issues. This number is multiplied by net tuition, assuming an increase of 5% per year, to determine the total revenue an institution loses over the course of three years.
A limitation of this tool that deserves comment is that sample size limitations did not allow us to include estimates for students who identify as something other than female or male. This population is very important for future research, given the significantly higher sexual assault prevalence rates among non-cisgender students. Unfortunately, when we start to slice the data we do not have a large enough sample size to create estimates for this population.
Follow the link below to complete the calculator and receive your own customized report. This is the first tool of its kind that we know about and, as always, we are open to your feedback.