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4 Tips for Crafting Mission Driven Financial Aid Policies

October 20, 2023
Patrick Fang
Marketing Operations Manager

Welcome to autumn! Daylight is fading, cafes are wafting the smell of pumpkin spice, and the 2024/25 award cycle is ramping up. It is our sincere hope here at Clarity that you have a stress free (or much less stressful) award cycle this year, so you have time for your other responsibilities and work/life balance. With that in mind, we’d like to share a few articles from the experienced financial aid practitioners on our team so you can have a smooth season supporting your school as well as your families.

Reflect on Mission and Priorities

What is your school’s mission statement and core values? How is this reflected in your financial aid policy? Now is a fantastic time to have the conversation with stakeholders in the admission and business office. This way, the team can align on where financial aid fits into supporting the school’s enrollment, culture, equity, and fiscal sustainability.

Translate Values into Policy

When connecting with stakeholders, consider your strategic enrollment goals- Culture, Diversity Equity & Inclusion, and more. Are there specific aspects of your enrollment needing attention or focus where aid can have an impact? Do you only provide need-based aid, leveraging it as a tool to meet equity and access goals, or do you see financial aid primarily as a tool to attract more families and meet enrollment targets?

Review Asset-Class Handling

How do you handle and protect assets and expenses? What about treating certain assets differently for older parents? Do they still make sense in light of your school's mission and priorities? Does your existing financial aid system reflect a suggested amount that makes sense for your families and your market? Are you happy with how it handles home equity, business income, retirement accounts, and more?

Learn from the Market and your Peers

Family demographics are changing: the children of millennials are entering schools and account for a larger share of enrollments each year. These buyers are tech-fluent and expect processes like document sharing to be as simple as ordering a package from Amazon. Furthermore, these parents can be more price sensitive and likely to apply for aid, especially given the economic uncertainty of recent years and whispers of turmoil still on the horizon.

What kind of experience do families have when applying to other schools in your market? How does the application experience at your school compare?

It's a good idea to network with peers in your market and beyond to share ideas. Are your financial aid policies and requirements in line with your competitors? Are you, for example, making it much harder for families by requiring current year taxes to be completed before the deadline?

Financial aid is more than just a line item in your school’s budget; it's a dynamic tool that influences your school’s culture, diversity, equity, and accessibility. The needs of your families have only grown larger and more complex, and it is clear that any methodology needs to be carefully tailored to your exact situation. Clarity’s users rest easy knowing that they have a partner in their experienced client success managers who make sure that none of the nuances are missed. If you aren’t already onboard and want to learn more, fill out a form here and our ambassadors will be in touch!

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