Affordability vs. Financial Aid: Crafting a New Student Recruitment Message

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Increased concern over the cost of earning a college degree means increased interest in the "affordability" of one institution compared to another. Over the past year some schools have introduced "affordability" pages on their websites to replace or augment traditional "financial aid and scholarship" pages.

Review examples here from 5 diverse schools: American University, Strayer University, Wellesley College, University of Findlay, and Southern New Hampshire University.

Don't miss the appendices with examples of "affordability" for lead generation, universities that compare their tuition directly with competitors, and use of the "affordability" word without a great deal of substance.

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Affordability vs. Financial Aid: Crafting a New Student Recruitment Message

  1. 1. AFFORDABILITY VS. FINANCIALAID: CRAFTING A NEW STUDENT RECRUITMENT MESSAGE ©ROBERTE. JOHNSON, PH.D.2014 Robert E. Johnson, Ph.D. President, Bob Johnson Consulting ACT Enrollment Planners Conference, Chicago, IL July 24, 2014 Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 1
  2. 2. Who is Bob Johnson? • Website reviews from a marketing perspective • “Top Task” research partner w/Gerry McGovern at Customer Carewords, Ltd, Dublin, Ireland • 75 higher education clients since 2006 • “Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter”… 3,700 subscribers • @highedmarketing… 6,600+ Twitter followers • “Higher Education Marketing” blog • Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education… chair, 1994 to 2003 Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC ... @HighEdMarketing 2
  3. 3. AN NEW AFFORDABILITY ENVIRONMENT Requires serious “affordability” content. Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 3
  4. 4. Chronicle of Higher Education… http://bit.ly/1l3n516 Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 4
  5. 5. From the Department of Education… http://collegecost.ed.gov/catc/ Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 5
  6. 6. Responses from 5 diverse schools… • American University • Strayer University • Wellesley College • University of Findlay • Southern New Hampshire University • And 3 Appendices: • Comparing competitive costs… 12 schools • Affordability to boost leads… 2 schools • “Affordability” without substance… 5 schools Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 6
  7. 7. AFFORDABILITY: SERIOUS NEW CONTENT Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 7
  8. 8. AMERICAN UNIVERSITY Reducing tuition increases and merit aid. Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 8
  9. 9. American U. gets serious… http://www.american.edu/initiatives/collegeaffordability/ Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 9
  10. 10. Reducing merit-based aid… http://www.american.edu/initiatives/collegeaffordability/how-financial-aid-stacks-up.cfm Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 10
  11. 11. Lower loan default rate… http://www.american.edu/initiatives/collegeaffordability/taking-charge-of-your-college-costs.cfm Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 11
  12. 12. Decreasing cost increase levels… http://www.american.edu/initiatives/collegeaffordability/how-AU-is-addressing-college-costs.cfm Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 12
  13. 13. STRAYER UNIVERSITY Many ways to reduce cost of a degree. Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 13
  14. 14. Starting on the home page… http://www.strayer.edu/ Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 14
  15. 15. Add unusual benefits… http://www.strayer.edu/strayer-university-tuition-reduction Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 15
  16. 16. “Two ways to save money”… For transfer credits… For Strayer courses… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 16
  17. 17. Reduce credits for a degree… http://www.strayer.edu/admissions/get-credit-your-life Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 17
  18. 18. Unusual start to Financial Aid page… http://www.strayer.edu/tuition Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 18
  19. 19. WELLESLEY COLLEGE “Basic financial question” to a FAFSA-free EFC estimate. Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 19
  20. 20. Before the NPC, a “quick” first step… http://www.wellesley.edu/admission/affordable/myintuition Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 20
  21. 21. #1… Demographics Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 21
  22. 22. #2… Total family income Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 22
  23. 23. #3… Savings & checking accounts Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 23
  24. 24. #4… Home equity Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 24
  25. 25. #5… IRAs, 401Ks and such (optional) Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 25
  26. 26. #6… Value of investments Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 26
  27. 27. #7… Other children in college Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 27
  28. 28. Your expected family contribution… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 28
  29. 29. UNIVERSITY OF FINDLAY 5 affordability myths. Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 29
  30. 30. Myth #1… Public vs. private cost http://www.findlay.edu/offices/student/financialaid/Affordability-Myths Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 30
  31. 31. Myth #2… Family income Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 31
  32. 32. Myth #3… Completion times & rates Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 32
  33. 33. Myth #4: Debt level Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 33
  34. 34. Myth #5… Default rates Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 34
  35. 35. SOUTHERN NEW HAMPSHIRE UNIVERSITY Collecting 10 cost-related press releases. Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 35
  36. 36. Scroll for cost-control press releases… http://www.snhu.edu/admission-costs.asp Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 36
  37. 37. Pick the ones that interest you… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 37
  38. 38. THANKS FOR BEING HERE IN CHICAGO! Bob Johnson, Ph.D. (248.766.6425) bob@bobjohnsonconsulting.com www.bobjohnsonconsulting.com @highedmarketing on Twitter Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC... @highedmarketing 38
  39. 39. APPENDIX 1: COMPARING TUITION COST “A small tuition is the best tuition” Eastern Washington University Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 39
  40. 40. University of Wisconsin-Superior… http://www.uwsuper.edu/admissions/cost/compare-tuition-and-cost.cfm Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 40
  41. 41. Strayer University… http://www.strayer.edu/strayer-university-tuition-reduction Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 41
  42. 42. Eastern Washington University… http://www.ewu.edu/undergrad/afford Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 42
  43. 43. University of Texas at Austin… http://www.utexas.edu/tuition/national.html For state residents… For out-of-state students… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 43
  44. 44. State College of Florida… http://www.scf.edu/StudentServices/Tuition/TuitionandFeesComparison.asp Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 44
  45. 45. Elgin Community College… http://elgin.edu/students.aspx?id=148 Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 45
  46. 46. Guilford Technical Community College… http://www.gtcc.edu/about-gtcc/public-disclosures/tuition-comparison.aspx Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 46
  47. 47. Eastern New Mexico University… https://www.enmu.edu/future-students/tuition/compare.shtml Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 47
  48. 48. Austin Community College… http://www.austincc.edu/tuition-and-financial-aid/compare-costs Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 48
  49. 49. Texas Women’s University… http://www.twu.edu/bursar/cost-comparison.asp Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 49
  50. 50. Linfield College… http://www.linfield.edu/dce/tuition-comparison.html Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 50
  51. 51. Nicolet College… http://www.nicoletcollege.edu/future-student/high-school/value/comparing-costs/index.html Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 51
  52. 52. Western International University… http://west.edu/affordability/tuition-comparison-guide Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 52
  53. 53. http://www4.lehigh.edu/admissions/undergrad/tuition Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 53
  54. 54. APPENDIX 2: AFFORDABILITY TO BOOST LEADS… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 54
  55. 55. UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND UNIVERSITY COLLEGE Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 55
  56. 56. Using a tease to get a lead at UMUC… http://bit.ly/18IBXxn Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 56
  57. 57. Forcing me to a PDF… http://www.umuc.edu/students/admissions/transfer/upload/10-great-ways-to-pay-for-your-education- brochure.pdf Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 57
  58. 58. The good… and the not so good • Prominent placement of monthly no interest tuition payment • But what is the “low nonrefundable enrollment fee”? • And the link here makes me link again to another page. Link direct. Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 58
  59. 59. UNION INSTITUTE & UNIVERSITY “Affordable” as a teasing benefit. Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 59
  60. 60. An online ad from March 18… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 60
  61. 61. Program benefits include “Affordable”… http://bit.ly/1qRLGqE Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 61
  62. 62. Auto response: no links to benefits Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 62
  63. 63. Academics: “affordable” still missing… http://www.myunion.edu/Academics.aspx#prettyPhoto Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 63
  64. 64. APPENDIX 3: AFFORDABILITY: WORDS W/O SUBSTANCE Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 64
  65. 65. Lost on a traditional financial aid page… http://www4.lehigh.edu/admissions/undergrad/apply Start here… End here… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 65
  66. 66. “Cost & Affordability” = Financial aid info http://www.bradley.edu/admissions/freshman/cost/ Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 66
  67. 67. “Affordable” commitment w/o details… https://www.utsystem.edu/affordability/ Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 67
  68. 68. “Most affordable” claim, no specifics… https://www.lewisu.edu/affordability/outstandingvalue.htm Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 68
  69. 69. The mission statement, PR approach… http://rwu.edu/about/partnerships-initiatives/affordable-excellence/our-approach Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 69

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