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Clarity Reflections: Stories From School CFOs

June 24, 2024
Patrick Fang
Marketing Operations Manager

Understanding new technology and recognizing when change is necessary can be challenging. There's a natural hesitance to avoid altering systems that aren't visibly broken. However, the K-12 market is changing, with more families of higher incomes requesting aid and concerns about decreased demand for private schooling nationwide. This shift makes it more important than ever to leverage financial aid intelligently to support your families and ensure your school can meet its enrollment and revenue goals. 

CFOs and business offices, often known for their cautious approach to change, aim to keep the school's doors open without taking unnecessary risks. They’ve been some of the most concerned stakeholders as we onboarded over 850 schools. However, once they experience the Clarity difference, they become some of our greatest advocates. Here are some highlights from a recent webinar panel where school administrators shared their experiences with Clarity:

Dr. Theresa Foy (CFOO, Collegiate School, NY)

Customization and transparency — "We switched to Clarity because we needed more confidence in our financial aid decisions and transparency in our communication with families. Clarity’s team worked closely with us to tailor our financial aid formula, ensuring it accurately reflected our unique needs in New York City. But at the end of it, we felt really confident that the numbers that were coming out of the formula were very appropriate for our families. And we've sort of proven that by the conversations we've had with families explaining how they came up with their number. It's a very transparent process in that way. The result is a transparent process that has increased our confidence and satisfaction among families."

Linda Dennison (CFO, Glenelg Country School, MD)

Ease for parents — "I would say the very first thing [we noticed] was ease of use by our parents,” Linda began. She went on to highlight the added simplicity to the financial aid process, saying, “Most of our parents now report they complete the application in thirty to forty minutes. And that was really important because two, three years ago, we were hearing, ‘it's taking me three hours, four hours to do that. And if the FAFSA can do things like pull tax returns, why can't you?’ And I thought that was an excellent question." 

"We were having financial aid creep,” she explained, “...Whenever there was an appeal, we couldn't explain the ‘why.’ And now it's so easy to explain the ‘why’... Once we set up our rules, it was consistently applied, saving our committee lots of time." 

Tom Stanton (CFO, Trinity School, NY)

Stellar support from client success — “The thing that I really want to hone in on today is the client success model — and when Clarity uses the term client success, they really mean it. That is who your ‘implementation specialist’ is, as other software companies may call it. But that person then stays with the school and stays with you, ongoing... Occasionally we face interesting applications where something doesn't smell right, and you look at it and go, I wish I had another set of eyes on this. And we're able to send that to our client success manager who is an experienced financial aid professional... and we get that feedback from someone who is not within the school and has that independent lens who can then be a sanity check for us." 

Joe Powell (CFO, Columbus School for Girls, OH)

Superior interface — "So I actually came in using the previous system that looked like it was made in the 90s. And so after enrollment was completed for the current year, we started to use Clarity. The thing that really struck me the most is the user interface. I find it incredibly easy to use. It's organized well. Our families really love it as well." Reflecting on his experience, Joe concluded, " Clarity is just such a clear winner for me."

Karen Hoppe (Director of Finance) and Michael Simon (Database Manager, Heilicher Jewish Day School, MN)

Simplicity — Karen: "I have been at the Minneapolis Jewish Day School for seven years. It's so simple to use. I've been with all of the different systems over the seven years, pretty much, that are out there that are recommended. And this experience has been fabulous. The parents love it. So, for us, it's the customer service, but it's also just the simplicity. If I can do it, anyone can do it."

Fantastic support — Michael: "This has been our first financial aid season with Clarity, and it actually has been wonderful. In the past, we've dreaded doing financial aid, but this year, it was absolutely a pleasure. The ease of use for our families, they are thrilled. Our staff is even more than thrilled since we have to review the data. The support we've had from Clarity, our client success manager. We love, love, love our CSM. They were fantastic in helping us implement."

Russel Rabinowitz (Director of Finance and Operations, Duke School, NC)

Great real-time data and positive feedback from parents — "The customer service is outstanding. The ability to go into the system, do ‘what-if’ changes to the variables or criteria, and get an update in real-time has been great. Clarity listens to their customers; every change they've made to the system has been to improve it based on our input. We've got a lot of positive feedback from our parents about how easy the system is, and it's also been a pleasure to work with on our end."

Karen Cowan (CFO, St. Andrew's Episcopal School, TX)

Simplifies communication with families — "If I have questions about a family, my CSM would send me a short video explaining why the numbers are what they are and how I can relate to the family, and talk to them about some of their assets that we had questions about. My favorite thing is getting the reports directly from the IRS. It seems like families did not want to turn over their tax returns or only the first two pages every year, and you'd have to go back and say no: Please send me everything, all the schedules, everything. So that makes it a whole lot easier. Clarity is by far the best product on the market."

Conclusion

Clarity's innovative solutions have transformed financial aid management, making it seamless, transparent, and efficient. In today’s educational landscape, embracing innovation is essential. Schools that don’t adapt risk falling behind. Over 880 schools have taken the step to benefit from Clarity’s solutions and support. Click below to watch the highlights from the CFO panel, or click here if you’d like to speak to us. 

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