Allocating your financial aid strategically is part of an effective recruitment plan. Using limited financial aid resources to achieve institutional enrollment goals and maximize net tuition revenue is perhaps the greatest enrollment management challenge a college has to face. GDA Integrated Services has a proven record of developing successful leveraging strategies that have helped institutions increase the quantity, quality and diversity of the student body as well as the net tuition revenue.
The Financial Aid Audit is designed to lead institutions through a careful analysis of how they spend new student aid dollars and how they can develop packaging strategies that are consistent with institutional objectives. The audit offers a simple but thorough program review that answers questions such as: is the tuition discount rate appropriate, is the aid program in compliance with Federal regulations, is aid being awarded strategically? The audit also provides recommended methods for integrating aid strategies with admissions initiatives. We examine the financial aid communication flow to see if it adequately describes aid opportunities to prospective students, and whether or not it is integrated with admissions follow-up recruitment activities. In addition, it provides an informed assessment of aid packaging policies for continuing students.
Too often, aid programs get bogged down in bureaucratic minutia and the big picture becomes obscured. The comprehensive approach used in the GDAIS audit can help institutions improve the effectiveness of their aid operations by focusing on what really matters.
The GDAIS Financial Aid Audit provides specific and customized recommendations for attracting the types of student most desired by the institution through the use of need-based and/or merit-based funds. This is neither a “canned” analysis nor a situation where “one report fits all.” We evaluate each institution’s financial aid operation within the context of its competitive situation, and we place special emphasis on how to use limited resources as an effective marketing tool.
Most private colleges and universities can no longer afford to be “need blind” with their admissions decisions, meet one hundred percent of the demonstrable financial need of their enrolled students, and, at the same time, attract the level of quality and diversity they feel is appropriate for the institution. When this is the case, some hard decisions have to be made about institutional priorities, and the financial aid program has to be redesigned to better serve institutional goals on the one hand and keep spending on institutionally funded grant assistance under control on the other. In the current vernacular, aid resources have to be “leveraged” in a systematic way to achieve the desired results.
We frequently find that colleges do not have the necessary expertise to develop their own “leveraging matrix.” The matrix identifies the yield rate by cell (conversion of accepted applicants to enrollees) of students with various academic, financial, ethnic and/or geographic characteristics from the past two or preferably three years. Through careful extrapolation of this data, we can help a college determine what amount of need-based grant or merit scholarship a student in each cell of the matrix might require in order to be persuaded to enroll. The objective of leveraging is to yield the greatest number of higher ability students at the lowest possible expenditure of institutional funds.
GDAIS provides this analysis and direction for about a third of the price of what others are known to charge. Perhaps more important, GDAIS provides the college with a working aid awarding and packaging model that can be used in subsequent years to predict enrollment by cell, which then lets the admissions office know how many students need to be admitted in each cell in order to meet enrollment targets. This eliminates the need for costly renewal programs.
GDAIS financial aid consultants can provide short-term consulting solutions to any number of specific aid-related issues, from Federal regulations compliance to training workshops in areas such as basic needs analysis, packaging strategies, using financial aid staff in the admissions recruitment process, packaging aid for upper-class retention, etc. In addition, GDAIS can provide long-term training and counseling for less experienced professional staff who are just learning the business. Some clients who have had difficulty finding experienced financial aid professional staff to fill vacancies have turned to GDAIS to train and mentor individuals from outside the aid community, who appear to have the potential to become valuable professional aid officers but have little or no aid experience.
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