Trends in College Admissions: Addressing Student Debt

After RaiseMe co-sponsored Inside Higher Ed’s 2019 Survey of College and University Admissions Officers, members of the RaiseMe team were excited to view the results and apply the insights to our work with our college partners.

As someone who provides oversight and support for nearly 100 of RaiseMe’s college partners, I’m privileged to have a unique lens into ground-level trends in enrollment management offices across the nation. I see how colleges are responding to current challenges in the admissions and recruitment process, and how RaiseMe is working to support our partners through it all.

In this short series I’ve shared my reactions to the survey results. I hope that no matter the type of college or your role, my thoughts help your enrollment team navigate these challenges.

Student Debt

One huge and unfortunate trend in the higher ed space is the continual and dramatic increase in student debt. The survey showed that for a third consecutive year, the percentage of admissions directors who believe their institution is losing potential applicants because of concerns about accumulating student debt is 80 percent or higher. More than nine in 10 private college admissions directors hold this view.

College affordability is a top concern for the majority of RaiseMe’s college partners. A leading cause for recruited, admitted students not to enroll at an institution is that they report not being able to pay for it. For the vast majority of people, loans are the only viable way to afford a higher education today. The process to secure student loans can be confusing and difficult, and the resulting student debt becomes a burden that takes years or decades to relieve.

Fortunately, RaiseMe and other leaders in the space are working to address the challenge debt poses for students in their academic careers and beyond. Here are some trends we’re seeing in higher ed to address student debt:

  1. Financial aid teams are working more collaboratively with admissions teams than ever before. Financial aid staff are visiting high schools to educate students earlier on and in-person on financial aid opportunities and the financial aid process. They are also hosting more robust financial aid workshops at University Open House events and during weeknights to engage and support parents through the process.
  2. Net price calculators are popping up on more and more financial aid pages each year, offering prospective students and their parents early insight into available scholarships based on students’ academic merits, available financial aid, and the family’s Estimated Family Contribution (EFC).
  3. We’re seeing more and more public colleges support out of state students with high academic merit by offering in-state tuition matching. This is creating more affordable opportunities for students at out-of-state public institutions.
  4. Many of our partners are thinking creatively to help students manage their costs. In a recent webinar RaiseMe co-hosted with Temple University, The College of New Jersey, and the University of Delaware on “How Students Can Access an Affordable Out-Of-State College Education,” Shawn Abbott, Vice President for Admissions, Financial Aid, & Enrollment Management at Temple shared a tip for school counselors and admissions professionals to help drive students’ cost of attendance down: “Encourage your students to make thoughtful decisions about their academic program, housing and meal plan. [It’s possible to] get a student’s cost of attendance down by as much as $10K based on these choices.”
    Abbott is also a strong supporter of students completing the Free Application for Federal Student AID (FAFSA) early, and in his words, “We feel so strongly about filing the FAFSA that we even added a RaiseMe micro-scholarship this year for any student who completes [it].”
  5. Institutions are prioritizing early engagement with students to better inform and educate them on the financial aspects of paying for their college degrees. This is a key priority for many of our college partnerships, and working with RaiseMe to engage students as early as 9th grade helps our partners yield best financial fit students earlier.

Tweet this:

“By helping students achieve along the way, colleges are shaping their future applicant profiles, which will support a student’s ability to not only succeed in college, but to have the confidence that they can pay for it.”

~ @JennKanellis of @RaiseLabs

When students engage with RaiseMe, suddenly they are more motivated to get an  “A” in a course, drive their GPA up, work for a higher SAT score, and potentially take on more rigorous courses. All of this leads to a higher scholarship award upon admission to our partner colleges. This is the positive feedback loop created via RaiseMe.

By helping students achieve along the way, colleges are shaping their future applicant profiles, leading to higher scholarship awards which will support a student’s ability to not only succeed in that college, but to have confidence that they can pay for it.

If you haven’t already, click here to access Inside Higher Ed’s 2019 Survey of College and University Admissions Officers.

Contact the RaiseMe team to learn about how we work with colleges (or get in touch directly with your RaiseMe Partner Success Manager).

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