Financial Aid Strategies and College Revenue Impact

In the 1980’s and 90’s, the cost of attending private institutions outpaced the rate of inflation, making it harder for institutions to enroll students. The cost was far greater than what families could afford, and financial assistance was limited.  Financial aid strategy was almost non-existent. If institutions discounted themselves too much, revenue lagged, and students couldn’t receive the educational experience needed to succeed in the workforce. As a result, leveraging aid was used to help campuses enroll the number of students needed, control discounting and financial aid costs, and meet revenue and budget needs.

As our data collection and mining have become more sophisticated, institutions are able to develop aid models based on past enrollment data to optimize awarding on a per-student basis. Developing a personalized aid model and identifying and finding the right fit students for your community go hand in hand.

Financial Aid Distribution is Strategic

Every year it becomes more challenging to meet conflicting institutional demands. Colleges and universities want to enroll a diverse, academically talented class while balancing their discount rate and increasing revenue. The challenge is to find the right fit student and provide enough funding for them to higher education financial aid, admissions consulting and search firmenroll and graduate.  In business terms, minimize overspending on student populations that would already enroll, increase award offerings to desired populations that require and would benefit from an extra push, and increase yield while lowering the discount rate.

Financial Aid modeling allows institutions to motivate students who are the right fit while also balancing the cost to educate the student body as well as the fixed operating costs of the institution. When this formula is successful, colleges and universities are well on their way to financial health, offering a diverse student body the opportunity to have an engaging and meaningful education that provides opportunities to succeed in the workforce. So, what does it take to make this model work?

Modeling Aid for Equity in Higher Education

  1. Identify your goals (Net Revenue, Headcount, Diversity, Academic Quality, etc.) in order of importance to properly set your aid strategy
  2. Define your right-fit student population based on internal geodemographic data of enrolled classes, retention data, social and educational information, external market data (regional and national), and enrollment data.
  3. Define and articulate your value to the most diverse generation of students in modern American history, keeping in mind that for them the purpose of college is to help launch a career.
  4. Analysis of historical data will help you identify and enhance existing markets and identify new markets. Increase your desired student population using tools and outreach that resonates with GEN Z and improve yield by building upon established relationships with counselors and the campus community.
  5.  Put targeting strategies in place so you can set your focus on those students who fit your enrollment needs and have the greatest likelihood of enrolling and graduating.
  6. Getting your Scholarships and Grants out early lets students know that you value what they bring to their educational experience and your community.

Assistance with Structuring for Equity and Revenue

Financial aidSetting your financial aid strategy based on the students who best fit your institution’s mission and vision while including input from all areas of the community will lead to successful alumni. In return, your alumni will support and help you grow and better serve your institution’s community of learners.

focusEDU has the financial aid expertise to assess and evaluate your strategic financial aid packaging strategies and the institutional financial impact of your current configurations.  Click here to contact us for a discussion.  We can help.

admission and financial aid expertise
Susan Kassab

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About the Author:

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Susan Kassab has served in the higher education arena for more than 30 years and brings a wealth of experience in all sectors of enrollment management and marketing. She joined focusEDU after serving as a Vice President for Enrollment Management and Marketing.

Susan has worked for medium and small liberal arts institutions in both the Dean and Vice President roles. Most recently, she served as the Vice President for Enrollment Management and Marketing at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY. A Philadelphia region native, Susan has contributed her knowledge and skills to Widener University, Saint Joseph’s University and Neumann University. While at Saint Joseph’s University, Susan organized and led the new Graduate Division under Enrollment Management, leading joint recruitment opportunities and creating degree options for the Graduate Schools. She also led the internationalization efforts and managed two overseas offices. More recently, Susan has created a more effective application review process, increased communication, and a more robust digital marketing effort by aligning processes and procedures within the admissions, CRM and Marketing arenas. She has also worked with ELS Educational Services, delivering strategic international enrollment management plans and enrollment to partner colleges and universities.

As a seasoned practitioner, Susan has succeeded in a number of key areas of enrollment management and has built skills that include; Comprehensive Enrollment Management and Marketing; Institutional Strategic Visioning; Enterprise Systems Analysis and Integration; Specialized recruitment in the international, transfer, military, graduate, and adult markets; Internal and External Partnership Development and Change Management.

A comprehensive enrollment professional, Susan is a member of and served in several professional associations; The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), Association of International Educators (NAFSA), Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA), The Association for Graduate Enrollment Management (NAGAP) and the Pennsylvania Association for College Admission Counseling (PACAC). She has served and presented on a wide range of topics including Strategic Planning, Internationalization, and Best Practices in College Recruitment.

Susan earned her Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, and her master’s in education at Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania. She is a long-time resident of Wallingford, Pennsylvania and serves in a few capacities at Media Presbyterian Church.

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