Meeting the Financial Needs of College Students in an Unprecedented Year

Alejandra Sosa PieroniVice President, Enrollment ManagementMay 12, 2021

Key findings from the 2021 Discounting Report

This past year higher education lost about 400,000 students, which represents the biggest student lost we have ever experienced. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, the financial losses are estimated at $183 billion. This unprecedented year put colleges and universities in a difficult position as they tried to balance the financial needs of college students with the institution’s own needs for the revenue that helps campuses fulfill their educational mission. Our key findings from the 2021 Discounting Report shows how colleges managed to do so. The report is based on nearly 200 private and 70 public partner institutions that leverage RNL’s financial aid solutions and includes key performance indicators on incoming freshman and transfer students.

In the video below, I talk about highlights for the incoming fall 2021 class. And keep reading for three key findings.

Download your free copy of the 2021 Discounting Report.

Three key findings on meeting the financial needs of college students

As colleges, students, and families navigate these difficult times and move into a post-pandemic environment, here are three strategies that can help you engage families during the financial aid process and keep students on the path to enrolling at your institution.

1. Communicate price and value early.

Drive students to your net price calculator and make sure that your financial aid website demonstrates affordability and return on investment by showcasing key financial aid stats such as:

  • scholarship ranges
  • distribution of household incomes
  • average financial aid packages by family income levels
  • job placement
  • average salaries per majors

2. Be ready to make data-driven adjustments to your awarding strategies to meet student need in a rapidly changing environment.

Where do you focus your limited aid dollars to best support your enrollment goals? This is where analytics play a crucial role. Analytics that enable you to continuously track students’ receptivity to aid and likelihood to enroll ensure you are effectively allocating your aid dollars to yield the best enrollment results. Doing this will help you optimize aid so you can best meet the financial need of college students while also maximizing the impact of your awarding on enrollment.

3. Modernize financial aid communications.

Given that today’s students expectations have been shaped by the interactions they have with companies like Netflix, YouTube, and Amazon, you must communicate with students and their families in a personalized way using the channels they prefer. For example, using tools to predict affordability (way before FAFSA) allows you to customize the financial aid information you present to families early on. Personalized financial aid videos are also great for making your financial aid awards engaging, easy to understand, relevant, and compelling.

Although few institutions will remain untouched by current economic and demographic realities, well-managed institutions that are able to right-size enrollment by strategically allocating their financial aid resources will be best positioned to succeed in today’s environment. See how we can help you with our financial aid solutions so you can meet the financial needs of college students while making your awarding process more strategic and data-driven.

Optimize your awarding to meet student need as well as enrollment and revenue goals

Talk with our financial aid strategists and discover how you can use a more data-driven, strategic process to provide more families with the aid they need while also achieving your institutional objectives.

Schedule now

About the Author

Alejandra Sosa Pieroni

Alejandra Sosa Pieroni is vice president for enrollment management at RNL. She offers more than 15 years of experience in higher education and has expertise in enrollment marketing, student recruitment, financial aid awarding, and yield...

Read more about Alejandra's experience and expertise

Reach Alejandra by e-mail at Ale.SosaPieroni@ruffalonl.com.

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