RNL enrollment and financial aid models

Todd Feathers filed this request with the West Virginia University of West Virginia.
Status
Completed

Communications

From: Todd Feathers

To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to the West Virginia Freedom of Information Act, I hereby request the following records:

1) All contracts with Ruffalo, Noel, Levitz (RNL) since Jan. 1, 2018 for enrollment management and financial aid optimization services.

2) All reports provided to the university by RNL since Jan. 1, 2018 regarding the following RNL services:
- Historical Research & Competitor Benchmarking
- Econometric Modeling
- Annual Financial Aid Plan Development
- RNL Smart View Dashboards & Reporting for Insight-Driven Response
- Retention Analysis
- Revenue Optimization & Simulation
- Four-Year Enrollment & Net Revenue Projection Model
- Enrollment Likelihood and FinAid Receptivity Scoring

3) All validation studies, differential impact studies, or comparable studies supplied by RNL or done by the university or a third party on the university's behalf regarding the accuracy of RNL's predictive models.

4) De-identified copies of all enrollment and financial aid model training datasets supplied to/received from RNL for 2021-2022 school year applicants, containing:
- All non-identifiable variables for each applicant that the university supplies to RNL for the purpose of building and training its predictive models
AND
- All output data fields (i.e., receptivity scores, lead categories, etc.) generated by RNL's predictive models for each applicant.

With regards to item 4 of my request, please note that I am asking for a de-identified data set that does not include fields that could be used to identify an individual applicant (e.g., name, address, SSN). These fields can easily be redacted by deleting those columns from the responsive spreadsheet.

I ask that all fees be waived as intend to use the requested records to further public understanding of public agencies and not for any commercial purpose. In the event you choose to impose fees, I request a detailed breakdown of the fees, including the hourly wage of each employee involved and an explanation justifying the employee hours required to fulfill the request.

Should you choose to reject this request or redact portions of responsive documents, I ask that you provide a detailed breakdown of the statutory exemptions and associated case law underlying your decision to withhold each/any portions from public review.

The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.

In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 5 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Todd Feathers

From: West Virginia University

Todd Feathers:

This e-mail is the initial response to your West Virginia Freedom of Information Act request received on January 28, 2022, which seeks the following documents:

"1) All contracts with Ruffalo, Noel, Levitz (RNL) since Jan. 1, 2018 for enrollment management and financial aid optimization services[;]"

"2) All reports provided to the university by RNL since Jan. 1, 2018 regarding the following RNLServices:
- Historical Research & Competitor Benchmarking
- Econometric Modeling
- Annual Financial Aid Plan Development
- RNL Smart View Dashboards & Reporting for Insight-Driven Response
- Retention Analysis
- Revenue Optimization & Simulation
- Four-Year Enrollment & Net Revenue Projection Model
- Enrollment Likelihood and FinAid Receptivity Scoring[;]"

"3) All validation studies, differential impact studies, or comparable studies supplied by RNL or done by the university or a third party on the university's behalf regarding the accuracy of RNL's predictive models[;]" and

"4) De-identified copies of all enrollment and financial aid model training datasets supplied to/received from RNL for 2021-2022 school year applicants, containing:
- All non-identifiable variables for each applicant that the university supplies to RNL for the purpose of building and training its predictive models

AND

- All output data fields (i.e., receptivity scores, lead categories, etc.) generated by RNL's predictive models for each applicant.
With regards to item 4 of my request, please note that I am asking for a de-identified data set that does not include fields that could be used to identify an individual applicant (e.g., name, address, SSN). These fields can easily be redacted by deleting those columns from the responsive spreadsheet."

Due to the nature of the request and the fact that the University is currently processing other previously filed requests for records that will likely yield a significant number of responsive documents, additional time is needed to search for, identify, gather, review, and process your request. Accordingly, a final response and any nonexempt responsive documents will be provided to you via electronic correspondence on or before Thursday, February 24, 2022. You will be notified in the event that the anticipated production date or the means of production need to be modified. W. Va. Code § 29B-1-3(d)(2) (stating that the custodian may advise the person making the request of the time and place at which he or she may inspect and copy the materials). WVFOIA Procedure 1, Section 3.2(e); Farley v. Worley, 215 W. Va. 412, 422, 425 n.14, 16, 599 S.E.2d 835, 846, 848 n.14, 16 (2004); John Doe Agency v. John Doe Corp., 493 U.S. 146, 157 (1989).

West Virginia University reserves its right to exercise any and all applicable exemptions under W. Va. Code § 29B-1-4, defenses, or privileges, as appropriate.

Thank you.

FOIA OFFICER
West Virginia University

From: West Virginia University

Todd Feathers:

This e-mail is the final response to your West Virginia Freedom of Information Act request received on January 28, 2022, which seeks the following documents:

"1) All contracts with Ruffalo, Noel, Levitz (RNL) since Jan. 1, 2018 for enrollment management and financial aid optimization services[;]"

"2) All reports provided to the university by RNL since Jan. 1, 2018 regarding the following RNLServices:
- Historical Research & Competitor Benchmarking
- Econometric Modeling
- Annual Financial Aid Plan Development
- RNL Smart View Dashboards & Reporting for Insight-Driven Response
- Retention Analysis
- Revenue Optimization & Simulation
- Four-Year Enrollment & Net Revenue Projection Model
- Enrollment Likelihood and FinAid Receptivity Scoring[;]"

"3) All validation studies, differential impact studies, or comparable studies supplied by RNL or done by the university or a third party on the university's behalf regarding the accuracy of RNL's predictive models[;]" and

"4) De-identified copies of all enrollment and financial aid model training datasets supplied to/received from RNL for 2021-2022 school year applicants, containing:
- All non-identifiable variables for each applicant that the university supplies to RNL for the purpose of building and training its predictive models

AND

- All output data fields (i.e., receptivity scores, lead categories, etc.) generated by RNL's predictive models for each applicant.
With regards to item 4 of my request, please note that I am asking for a de-identified data set that does not include fields that could be used to identify an individual applicant (e.g., name, address, SSN). These fields can easily be redacted by deleting those columns from the responsive spreadsheet."

In final response to your request, after a reasonable search by the Office the Office of Procurement, Contracting, and Payment Services please find attached Sixty-Five (65) pages of responsive documents Bates numbered WVU FOIA #22029-001 through -065.

Next, in regard to parts (2) and (3) of your request, please be advised that a reasonable search by the Office of Institutional Research did not return any responsive documents specific to your request. See Daily Gazette Co. v. Withrow, 177 W. Va. 110, 119 n.9, 350 S.E.2d 738, 746 n.9 (1986) ("There is no obligation under the State FOIA to create any particular record, but only to provide access to a public record already created[.]").

That said, please note that even if West Virginia University ("WVU") had identified responsive documents, they would likely be exempt from disclosure under the W. Va. FOIA as they would likely contain documents reflecting the deliberative, decision-making process of the University and written advice, opinions and recommendations to a public body from outside consultants or experts. W. Va. Code § 29B-1-4(a)(1), (8); Highland Mining Co. v. W. Va. Univ. Sch. of Med., 2015 W. Va. LEXIS 679 (W. Va. May 21, 2015). The deliberative process privilege exists to "encourage the free exchange of ideas and information" within public bodies. Daily Gazette Co. v. W. Va. Dev. Office, 198 W. Va. 563, 571, 482 S.E.2d 180, 188 (1996). In Daily Gazette Co., the Court explained that this exemption specifically exempts from disclosure those written internal government communications consisting of advice, opinions and recommendations which reflect a public body's deliberative, decision-making process as well as written advice, opinions and recommendations to a public body from outside consultants or experts obtained during the public body's deliberative, decision-making process. Id. at 572, 189. Further, the Court stated this privilege may be applied "to government documents which reflect that agency's group-thinking during its deliberative or decision-making process[.]" Id. at 573, 190.

Finally, and with regards to part four (4) of your request, please be advised that the data is not submitted to RNL in the manner you describe and, after consultation, it would impose an undue burden on the department to create a document in the manner you are requesting. This is not just a case of running a simple report. Moreover, the W. Va. FOIA does not require WVU to create any documents solely for the purpose of responding to a request for records. See Daily Gazette Co. v. Withrow, 177 W. Va. 110, 119 n.9, 350 S.E.2d 738, 746 n.9 (1986) ("There is no obligation under the State FOIA to create any particular record, but only to provide access to a public record already created[.]").

Please note that regardless of the production of these or other related documents, West Virginia University reserves its right to exercise any and all applicable exemptions under W. Va. Code § 29B-1-4, privileges, or defenses, as appropriate. Further, as required by W. Va. Code § 29B-1-3(d),<http://www.legis.state.wv.us/wvcode/ChapterEntire.cfm?chap=29b&art=1&section=3> please be advised that this request is now at an end.

Thank you.

FOIA OFFICER
West Virginia University

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