79: Granting 4-Year Aid Packages at Trinity College of Hartford, Connecticut w/ Michael Light

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Michael Light, Assistant Vice President of Enrollment at Trinity College of Hartford, Connecticut, joined the podcast to talk about the benefits of offering students a 4-year aid package at the point of admittance – especially for low-income students and families.

Follow all your families through four years and really think about what challenges do those changes to the finances throughout the four years pose of the family? You're listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaders looking to grow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to enrollment growth university, a proud member of the connect Du podcast network. I'm Ericleson, AVP of marketing at Helix Education, and we're here today with Michael Light, assistant vice presidents of enrollment at Trinity College of Hartford, Connecticut. Michael, welcome to the show. Thank you, nice to be here. Really excited to talk to you today about the benefits of offering students a four year aid...

...package at the point of admittance. Before we dig into that mic, can you give the listeners a little bit better understanding of both Trinity and Your Role? They're sure you know, trinity is a selective Liberal Arts college found in an eighteen twenty three. It's a sec an oldest institution in Connecticut. So Wonderful Institution and a long story history and a beautiful campus. I came to trinity about a year and a half ago to come and help them with some of the new financial initiatives and they wanted to expand on so they had a new president come on maybe about four or five years ago, and she really wanted to make financial aid, an expanding financial aid, large part of our presidency, and so I was very attractive for me. I spent some years doing financial aid and enrollment and financial aid and the Ive League for a while and so I thought this is a great opportunity to bring some mose experiences to a different type of institution. Well, I love that that was part of your president's Goulls because that's what we're going to dig in today and something that I'm so excited about. You guys really leading the charge on. Can we...

...start off this conversation with a definitional level set? Can you help us understand prior prior year in regards to financial aid? Sure? Well, you know, I think in order to get there your first you gotta think a little bit about what prior year is. You know, when people are applying for financial aid. We need to have some information from the family, usually financial information, and we need information that can be verified. Very handy tool that almost everybody uses in order to verify their income information are their tax returns, and the prior to attack return is usually the most recent year that's been completed before the student starts enrollment. So, for instance, if you were interested in coming in the, you know, fall of two thousand and eighteen, we'd be asking for your two thousand and seventeen information. This doesn't noise line up very well, though, because the tax years on a countar a year and the enrollment process works on the academic year. So if you were applying...

...early decision, let's say in November of two thousand and seventeen, for enrollment in fall of two thousand and eighteen, we wouldn't necessarily have your two thousand and seventeen taxes available yet then. So some students who are applying early decision where maybe had tax extensions or at disadvantage in the financial aid application process if they had difficult getting their attacked journs for the prior year. So the prior priory really takes to account that most people's financial situations really stay pretty level from year to year, and so to get around this timing issue, they started using all the feds and the rest of the industry decided that we're going to use two years prior in order to eliminate the disadvantage for folks depending on either when they apply for a mission or when their taxes are available. Michael, super helpful background. So how are you at Trinity Extending this Prior Prior Philosophy even further? We started digging into, you know, some of the characteristics...

...of undergraduate population and trying to figure out, you know, what are some of the other obstacles to applying for financial aid and just kind of navigating paying for what's, you know, for most people, is going to be that the most expensive, well, their second most expensive purchase in their entire lifetime. I think one of the things that I always find was a bit crazy was that your financial ad package could change from year to year, especially at very expensive institutions like trinity, because, you know, at the end of the day, tuition fees were board at a place like trinity could end up being, say, three Hundredzero, and so I didn't really seem fair for a lot of families that they might see that the price change from year to year, especially if they're income information was go stay relatively level. So they're doing some financial analysis and actually projected out what I would look like if we going backwards, collecting tax return information that we already had on hand, where people who had applied for financial lad in previous years and said Hey, we're actually making these families do a lot of work for kind of no reason, because we know what their financial situation is going to be like when they apply...

...up front, and so we might as well just use that information to project things out for four years and really make a commitment to that family for for one price for the entire credential Mike, specifically for low income students and their families. Why does a four year aid packaging policy matters so much? Well, it matters a lot because the unpredictability of paying for college is such a big deal for people for lower income backgrounds. If you were from them, say a family makes a hundred and Twentyzero a year and just you know, from one year to the next you see your two or three hundred dollar change in your financial aid. You know it's probably annoying, but you can probably figure it out a way to absorb it. For families that maybe you see a have a twenty fivezero dollar income, to see your two or three hundred change in your financial aid, well, now that could be huge. It could be a very difficult gap to cover and kind of creates a lot of anxiety for the family. So one of the reasons that it's so important is because it really allows actually to feel very comfortable about what they're going to be...

...looking at over the course of four years and really help them develop before your plan for your financial plan, really to get them all the way through to graduation and not just think about the first year. You talk about the the financial confidence that this offers. What have the initial results of this four year aid strategy been so far? We know we just had it for the first year get rolled out, so I think we're still looking at it. But butchingly is we're talking to people on the road. What we are seeing is we're seeing a lot more people interested in this model because of the predictability that it gives to them. For people that need financial aid, you know, it's higher education expenses are just a huge, huge, huge source of anxiety. So knowing that they have a commitment from that institution really allows them to start thinking about other parts of the decision process and selecting a college, thinking about fit, concentrating on their academics and for the students are currently under this plan, that's what we're starting to see as well, is that they're really...

...having the opportunity really to stop thinking about the finances and really concentrate on just being a student. My great stuff. Any next steps? Advice for other institutions considering a similar extended aid strategy? You know, I think when a lot of colleges and universities are trying to plan out their finances, you know they're looking at revenues from students going from your year and that's really how they're looking at things an aggregate, thoking at co Horts of students and what they're sort of average financial aid looks like. I'm I'd say, probably be worthwhile to I'm really break that down to the family level. Follow all your families through four years men, really think about what challenges do those changes to the finances throughout the four years pose of the family? I think about things that, you know, other barriers that aren't necessarily financial that you could start to break down and have the same result, making easier time for the family to navigate their college experience. Mike, Thanks so much for your time today. What's the best place for listeners to connect with you if they have any follow...

...up questions? Yeah, I think really the best way to contact me as you can contact me director Enery College at Michael Dot Light at trend call t R ENDCOLLL DOT Edu. Awesome. Thanks against so much for joining us today. I'm like, yeah, no problem. Attracting today's new post traditional learners means adopting new enrollment strategies. Helix educations data driven, enterprise wide approach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this new education landscape, and Helix has just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percent brand new content on how institutions can solve today's most pressing enrollment growth challenges. Download it today for free at Helix Educationcom. Playbook. You've been listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show and Itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank...

...you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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