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University of Delaware

The University of Delaware (UD), a state-assisted, privately governed Land Grant, Sea Grant, and Space Grant institution, enrolls more than 17,000 undergraduates, 3,600 graduate students, and nearly 800 students in professional and continuing studies from across the country and around the globe. It offers three associate programs, 147 bachelor’s programs, 119 master’s programs, 54 doctoral programs, and 15 dual graduate programs. Today, UD is a research-intensive, technologically advanced institution whose alumni are making vital contributions to the world.

Several years ago, UD began having trouble meeting some of its enrollment targets. The institution also felt there was room for improvement related to the scholastic achievements and diversity of the first-year class. In addition, the university believed its existing financial aid leveraging model was not helping it accomplish its goals as effectively as possible.

Financial aid leveraging leads to bigger classes, higher net revenue

As a public university, UD has the responsibility to provide access for Delaware residents, while also managing the goals and trade-offs related to achievement, diversity, and net revenue. The university didn’t just need more applications—it needed more of the right applications that supported its enrollment goals.

In preparation for the incoming class of fall 2014, UD implemented a new financial aid leveraging system to maximize the impact of its financial aid awards on enrollment. This system allows the university to interpret trends, track progress throughout the enrollment cycle, assess which initiatives are working, and then make timely corrections to meet goals.

In the spring of 2014, UD conducted a price sensitivity analysis to better understand the market’s perception of its value proposition. The results of the analysis were used during discussions regarding tuition-pricing options with UD’s board of trustees.

UD has also launched two new, first-year admissions programs that will diversify its means of enrolling students, an important strategic goal in today’s volatile enrollment environment. These efforts have led to higher net revenue by allowing UD to minimize increases to its discount rate while exceeding enrollment targets and still increasing excellence and diversity.

Notable achievements
Over the past two years, UD was able to increase selectivity and yield and exceed enrollment targets while also achieving diversity goals and holding the discount rate constant. Specifically:

  • The fall 2014 class was the largest and most diverse class in UD history.
  • Over the past two years, yield has increased by 3 percentage points and the average SAT score has increased by 37 points (on a 2,400 point scale).
  • For the fall of 2015 class, selectivity increased by 4 percentage points, yield increased by 1 point, the average SAT is up 15 points (on a 2,400 point scale) above last year and near a historic high, and the average GPA is also up. The diversity of the class is consistent with last year’s historic levels, and the discount rate was unchanged from that of 2014.

Going forward
Fall 2015 enrollment is projected to be 200 students above goal, and the university is confident it can manage these additional students and ensure a superb experience. UD expects to continue its current efforts, including strategic search and financial aid leveraging, to support its enrollment goals for the class entering in the fall of 2016.

A new university strategic plan, Delaware Will Shine, was finalized in spring 2015. This initiative will shape the future of UD by evaluating its mission and how it can solve the problems that plague the world.

One of the goals of Delaware Will Shine is to tackle the challenge of college access and affordability.

Case study published with the permission of the University of Delaware.

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