Measuring Financial Health with the Composite Financial Index

The Composite Financial Index (CFI) is a sophisticated tool designed to help you think strategically about your school's overall financial health and communicate succinctly about it with school leaders. Employed by higher education institutions for decades, the CFI produces a complete picture of your institution's financial strengths and weaknesses in a single score that is based on four underlying core ratios.

To develop the CFI, experts with the Big 4 accounting firm KPMG ran longitudinal models on data from over 250 colleges. From this, the team developed a scoring scale, metric scale and weighing scale. NBOA's work with the CFI is the result of an important partnership with the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), in conjunction with CFI co-creator Phil Tahey.

In this class, business officers will learn:

  • The benefits of the CFI and how it can be used to guide strategic conversations and decisions in conjunction with long-range planning.
  • How to calculate the index and other tips you need to use the tool effectively.
  • How the historic trend of your CFI has been affected by past actions and estimate how your current strategic plan will affect the forecasted CFI.

This course is being offered in partnership between NBOA and One Schoolhouse.

Course Schedule

Week 1

Introduction to the Composite Financial Index and the Four Core Ratios

In the first week of the course, you will learn about the genesis and benefits of the Composite Financial Index. You will be introduced to the four core ratios and how they are calculated and used in discussion of the index. Also in this week you will calculate a five-year trend of the core ratios and develop a narrative of the trends and factors/actions the school has taken that are affecting the trends.

Week 2

Calculating the CFI

In the second week of the course you will learn about the strength factors and weighting schema for calculating the CFI and how to calculate your own CFI five-year trend. You will learn how the use of debt in the independent school sphere differs from that in higher education and how debt influences the calculation of your CFI. Students will post a summary of their school’s five - year trend and and whether it validates or contradicts what you know about your school’s financial health.

Week 3

Practical and Strategic Application

In the final week of the course you will learn how to use the CFI in conjunction with your school’s strategic plan. Through an exercise, you’ll forecast your school’s CFI trend for three years and see how your current strategic financial plan will affect your CFI in the future. You will also have the opportunity to map out your introduction of the CFI to other school leadership (HOS, Finance Committee chair, etc.). Then you may either have the conversation with leadership or do a practice-run with other course participants and share feedback on your experience.


SHRM Information

Credit Hours: 6

Category: Business Acumen

NBOA is recognized by SHRM to offer SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP professional development credits (PDCs). For more information about certification or recertification, please visit


HRCI Information

Credit Hours: 6

Category: HR (Business)

NBOA is a recognized provider of recertification credits. HR Certification Institute® pre-approved this program for credits towards aPHR™, PHR®, PHRca®, SPHR®, GPHR®, PHRi™ and SPHRi™ recertification.


Email or call 202-407-7140


Oct 28 - Nov 15, 2019  Closed

Apr 20 - May 8, 2020  Closed

Jun 8 - Jun 26, 2020  Closed

Cancellation and refund policies




Group rebate available

Time Commitment

3-5 hours per week for 3 weeks

Learn more about the platform and coursework

Class Size

Up to 35 participants

Recommended Audience

  • Business officers
  • Controllers
  • Business office staff
  • Board finance committee members