Michigan Tech Collaborates with Locally Founded Goldstrike Data for Financial Aid Budgeting

Goldstrike Data L.L.C., a big data company founded by a Michigan Technological University alumna, has harnessed the power of predictive analytics to create financial aid budgeting efficiencies while increasing student success at Michigan Technological University.

Goldstrike Data was founded by Ashley Kern while she was a data science master’s student at Michigan Tech. The company is supported by experts in data science and statistics alongside a team of Oracle database specialists, business analysts and subject matter experts. Goldstrike focuses on leveraging advanced machine learning algorithms in conjunction with statistical knowledge to solve big data challenges.

Recently, Goldstrike has developed predictive models to forecast financial aid budgets for returning undergraduates students.

The most recent financial aid budgeting models have just been validated with results from the Spring 2017 semester enrollment numbers. In May 2016 Goldstrike forecast the Spring 2017 financial aid budget within 1.5 percent of what was paid out. Their data-driven approach leveraged advanced predictive modeling techniques, reducing the university’s historical budget projection variance which had previously hovered around 10 percent.

Rather than calculating the percentage of students that re-enroll historically and then estimating the remaining financial aid to be paid for an annual budget, the powerful Goldstrike algorithms disseminate the student data to a much more granular level. These state-of-the-science forecasting methods result in a much higher degree of accuracy than is available through other commercially available solutions.

In addition to providing an annual financial aid forecast up to 12 months in advance, Goldstrike Data simulates various scenarios for each budget. This provides university decision-makers additional security in their budgeting and allocation decisions.

Associate Vice President for Enrollment and University Relations, John Lehman, notes, “There are obviously many aspects of this story that appeal to me. That fact that Ms. Kern uses a Michigan Tech education to help provide greater efficiency towards our operation being just one.  More importantly, she and her team at Goldstrike are delivering services that are, in my mind, beyond promising.  This will soon be the new normal in higher education and Goldstrike has gotten us well ahead of the curve.”

Goldstrike Data is also working with student success directors at Michigan Tech to identify individual at-risk students up to 8 months before students struggle. Advanced machine learning algorithms matching these at-risk students with individualized interventions will be used to increase overall retention and graduation rates.