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Much Ado About Data: The Power of Financial Aid Strategy

February 8, 2024
Drew Cocco
Director of Client Success
From a webinar presentation with AISAP:

Let's dive into the world of financial aid (FA) strategy. FA is more than just evaluating and meeting needs; it's an essential tool and key strategic asset in your school’s toolkit.

Financial Aid: More Than Just Numbers

At its core, FA is a strategic element of enrollment management. It's central to the financial sustainability of your school. Imagine if all students on aid were suddenly unenrolled: could your school still operate? This thought experiment highlights just how critical FA is.

The Strategy in Financial Aid

The strategic aspect comes into play when discussing flexibility in FA awards. There’s no one-size-fits-all number for every family. This is where your discretion as a financial aid professional becomes pivotal. You can adjust the aid offered based on a well-thought-out strategy that balances the school’s enrollment and revenue goals.

Key Financial Aid Data to Track

  1. Yield Rate: The percentage of students who enroll from the offer pool. Knowing your yield rate is crucial for understanding the health of your enrollment funnel.
  1. Geography and Mapping: Understanding where your students come from can provide insights into your school's reach and areas of opportunity.
  2. Income Brackets: Organizing your enrolled students by household income can reveal behavioral trends across different demographics.
  1. Need Met: This involves tracking the percentage of a student's demonstrated need that your school meets. This metric is vital for understanding how your financial aid decisions impact enrollment.
  2. Net Tuition Revenue and Discount Rate: This data helps you understand the revenue each enrollment brings in, which is essential for your school's financial health.

Harnessing Data for Decision-Making

Let’s delve into how we can use this data strategically. For instance, if you know that specific grades or geographical areas have a lower yield rate than your average, you might need to adjust your strategies there. Similarly, understanding the needs met for different income brackets can help you tailor your FA packages to optimize enrollment and revenue.

Pivot Tables: A Powerful Tool

Pivot tables are your friend in this journey. They can help you slice and dice your data efficiently, providing insights you might have missed otherwise. For example, you can use pivot tables to understand the average need met for returning versus new students, which can influence your awarding decisions.

Start Somewhere

Remember, it’s okay to start small. Begin by tracking one new data point or consolidating your data into a centralized spreadsheet. Use charts and graphs to analyze your data visually, and don’t hesitate to compare year-over-year data for deeper insights.

Final Thoughts

I hope this has been enlightening and encourages you to think of financial aid as more than just number crunching. It's about strategizing, understanding, and using data to make informed decisions that benefit the school and its students.

Stay strong in your financial aid endeavors and happy data analyzing!

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