This matrix is a trend analysis, displaying the direction of the higher education industry's macroeconomic health.

The matrix displays the trend of each institution's financial sustainability, using views of the institution's balance sheet (equity ratio) and income statement (expense ratio) to indicate whether an institution's financial position is getting stronger or weaker. The financial sustainability of institutions in the upper right (red) sections is deteriorating. The sustainability of institutions in the lower left (green) sections is improving.

The matrix does not represent an institution's absolute financial position because it does not measure its starting point nor ending point. Instead, it shows, over a five-year period, whether these institutions were moving toward a more sustainable financial future or toward a less sustainable one.