Use of education finance data is ubiquitous. Yet, because the academic calendar circumscribes two calendar years, researchers have linked the Consumer Price Index (CPI) to three different dates: fall, spring, and academic fiscal years. We demonstrate that linking the CPI to these different academic years results in identifying different trends in U.S. educational spending during the Great Recession. Descriptive inferences should not be sensitive to researcher discretion about merge years. We provide an easy-to-use software package to facilitate implementation of National Center for Education Statistics guidelines in the hope that future analyses of education finance data will explicitly and consistently apply inflation adjustments.
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