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Trust…but Verify (or Clarify)

April 17, 2024
Jackson Marvel
Client Success Manager

As the school year starts to wind down and summer is on the horizon, there is one task that I would encourage you to do this June.

As we all know, the number of children in tuition charging schools (TCS) greatly impacts the suggested tuition amount. The number of children in TCS in the Suggested Tuition Breakdown (STB) tab is derived from the number parents input in their aid application. Unlike a family’s 1040 and W2, whose amounts can be verified, schools typically take the family’s word for it that they will have 2, 3, 4, etc. children in a TCS in the fall. While you may trust the number a family has entered on their application is correct, why not take the time to verify? By doing so, you could be saving your school and your financial aid budget thousands of dollars.

Why Should I Verify?

Every June, several schools send out a communication to families who have indicated that they will have more than one child in a TCS (other than their own school) and ask the families to share a copy of the other schools’ first tuition bill(s). You may be surprised to learn that after sending out this communication, some families will reach out to you and share that their educational plans have changed.

For example, the Smith family, who indicated they had a child going to college on their application, shares that the child is actually going to take a gap year. The school had calculated a family suggested tuition of $20,000 for the family, but with two children in TCS, they asked the family to pay $10,000 in tuition. With this new information, why would a school not ask the family to pay more in tuition, possibly the suggested tuition of $20,000?

Another example, the Jones family, might share that one of their children who was attending another TCS is not returning in the fall and will be attending a local public school while their other two children will be attending your school. The family suggested tuition was $45,000 and the suggested tuition per child was $15,000. Now that the third child is no longer attending a TCS, why not increase the suggested tuition to $22,500 per child? While you might find the majority of your families have the same number of children in TCS as indicated on their aid application, each year you also may find a few families where that is not the case.

The Best Way to Verify

While I am sure you would all agree that saving your school and financial aid budget is a good thing, you may ask the best way to verify this information. I would suggest that you create a custom document that you can send out to the families who have multiple children in TCS (other than your own).

One way to determine which families should receive this document is to create a custom export that includes the number of children in tuition charging schools. Once you have determined who should receive the custom document request, you can use bulk actions to select all of the families you would like to receive this request.

In communicating to these families, it is important to remind them that the number of children in tuition charging schools is a significant factor in calculating their student’s financial aid award. Thus, if there is a difference between the family’s aid application and the actual number of children attending tuition charging schools, your school reserves the right to modify the financial aid award. As is always the case, if you need any assistance with this, please do not hesitate to reach out to your Clarity Client Success Manager to assist you.

While this audit may raise a few questions from your returning families the first year you ask for this information, over time it will become a standard requirement your families expect to fulfill each June as part of your financial aid process. I cannot guarantee that you will revise a large number of awards and save financial aid dollars each year. However, you will have the confidence that, similar to 1040 and W2 verification, you have confirmed another important factor in many families' financial aid application: The number of children attending TCS.

I am certain that your head of school and board will appreciate and thank you for not just trusting, but also verifying this important piece of information.

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