The Why Behind our Students’ Financial Dropouts

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Amy Glynn, Vice President of Student Financial Success at CampusLogic joined the podcast to discuss new research on the financial reasons students are actually dropping out of college, and how we can create award letters that make sure we’re communicating our financial offer as clearly as possible.

Twenty three percent of respondencereported that Crosto th attendants was unclear. This can be issues withunderstanding both what an iter is, but many students reported that there wasconfusion actually not on what it was, but on how the amount was calculated. You're listening to enrollment growth,university from Helix Education, the best professional development podcastfor higher education leaders looking to grow in Romant at their college oruniversity, whether you're looking for fresh endromant growth techniques andstrategies or tools and resources. You've come to the right place. Let'sget into the show, welcome back to Enroman GrowthUniversity, a proud member of the connect Edu podcast network, I'm EricWolson with helics education and we're here today with Amy Glynn VicePresident of student financial success at campus logic. Amy Welcome to theshow Heyari. Thank for having me really excited to talk to you today about whatthe research says about the financial reason. Students are actually droppingout of college for, but before we dive in, can you get the listeners a littlebit of background on campus logic and your role there, Car Tho? Starting withme, I come from the financeialater to higher education world, so I spent myentire career and higher education and the first half of that was as adirector of financially that small private colleges and all of them werereally focused on rebuilding financially to create efficiency andprovide a positive student experience where we were making financially at adifferentiator and a positive d differentiator. In the studentexperience over the past eight years, ey've been at canvas logic where I getto serve as an industry, voice and financially exports for all of ourinternal teams, but the even greater part of that is. I get the opportunityto talk and write about improving the college financing journey for students,wit hen. This aim at improving college and Roman dudent completion andeliminating what I'm calling the greatest crime and higher education,which is students who have some college...

...no degree and are holding students debta little bit about campus logic or a development. We developed doctor as aservise or staff products that helped to reduce friction in the collegefunding journey for the students who are shopping from thetend theirshopping to when they begin to repay college they and so we're currentlyworking ith, seven hundred and sifpeople collegies, but Rewe Gen aworth six MILLN students actively in erolved in college, a product focus onsimplifying the complex funding process for students and staff, wile, creatinghighly personalized interaction to help students gain access, Tha, every dollar,available to pay for school, and so the product Laim of includessycoscholarship platform, a financially forms, inveification solution,ghodlarship management and matching a disital communications tool and even avocual advising solution, and everything for US drives back to Oumission to help schools change live. So we feel like the best way to do. Thisis by driving to solutions that will increase enrollment and retension andultimatelyreduce the number of students who drop out or fail to enroll incollege. Do the finance yeah EAN. I think your first person experience inthe financial adoffices of colleges across this countrys can be so helpful.Your first part o your research that campus logic has recently released isgoing to be so helpfess. This conversation, perhaps to kick us offtoday. There are three million students dropping out of college every year dueto financial reasons. What' your thought on what's really happening here,did something change in their financial situation that caused a dropout, or didwe not communicate our financial situation? Well Enough? Yes and yes, sosome students definitely have financial changes and I'll be honest, t this oneis path of mind for me right now, given everything that's going on in the world,the fact ta use ES financial information from two years ago. We knowthat in the last twelve month, forty eight percent of household havereported of hoston income or...

...unemployment, so these are familiesthat are they're facing making a decision abouthow to pay for college. Whether there are new students are continuing, buttheir financial aid offer is based on old or finances buy. So so we have thestudents who definitely had changes, but we- and so we have to address thatright and the American rescue plan, raquires colleges and universities toeducate students on the financially the peals Pacess, which allow ghoals totake into account more. We Central, more accurate financial information toadjust the federal aid awards, but we also were just not communicating clearlyseitherwe had we had a problem before covid and it's just excelerating asaccelerating that problem, and so we also just like, I said, have a hardtime. Communicating a pordability of college funding process and options canbe, can be a little much when you, when you think about it. I used to joke withfeter, say: Say: Listen, I'm going to present all your options to? U Butfinancially, it's kind of like a buffet. You can take a little of the you cantake a little of that and wo take a lot of this, a lot of that and, if you'veever been to a buffet in Vegas, it's a little overwhelming it. You don't evenknow where to start and crab legs crab legs is the correct answer. Okay, that's probably a reall, just like it'sgrant for students right Lik, you always take the crab leg, but ye alwaystake the grants always takes a good stuff wats of it. But this because ofall of the options that there are it's just it's hard to communicate and tocommunicate affordability, three out of fourt students who don't completecollege. They have sagmented, financially profis aspected theiracademic performance and their ability to continue. And when you think aboutthat Theo woard offer it's bround zero yeah, let's dig into the communicationchallenges specifically that we are to...

...blame for, starting with that, a wardletter. Can you give us a summary on your recent research on award letter,confusion and the methodology and instrument behind the study toy? So insummer of tw thousand and nineteen, we partnerd with NI research, SolitionsTho survey, a thousand students, fom, seven hundred and sixty parents inadition. We also serve it in received responsive fom, two hundred and thirtyfinancial eitexpert. So we asked them to kinpoint terminology and dollaramounts that they found confusing or unclear on the UF Department ofEducation, College Financing, plan templet, and so we use that one becauseit was, it was consistent. You know every institution is using it if theyfind the principles tof expelence, but the most important part is. We ask themtol seen back on why those items were unclear and Soresan. Nearly two housandresponses, PNA more newance picture of the struggle and challenges that seemsto Tere Pace, understanding the information intended to help them makeone of the largest financial commitments of their life in figuringout how they're going to pay for their college education yeah. I think thatone of the most interesting findings to me at least, was that even our goodnews in these award letters are often getting lost. A high level you've beenon the inside of this. What can we do to start making our award letterscommunicate better yeah? That is a really really great question. When we,when we look at you know five actionable, that's the bettercommunicate. I think the first one is. We need to refocus on the purpose ofthe awarwutter. awardletters have become offer letter to become a bit ofa catchall in the AIT office. You know that there is a single communicationthat a student is going to read from us and it's I's veryt offer. So we've hada tendency, maybe to include information that isn't key to thepurpose of communicating cost and...

...available funding with next step, andso I think that people need to refocus what's the purpose and they really needto go through their award letter with a fine to that. Does this belong her. WeNeed Toe standardide terms and calculations that are shown to thestudent there shouldn't be. There shouldn't, be this broad phrase of NATCOS or out of pocket cost without showing the student how we reached thatcalculation. So we need to demonstrate to them the not that we're doing, andwe need to perform that math for them, content should be presented at alogical, hormet cos should be at the top alto. The cost should be there andthen we should made it into aid and again calculate out cost O studentsbased on Ourour Research, personalized resources and next step. Differentstudents in different deaths, O temopraphic groups, get confused bydifferent things: The really personalizing, those resources that tapare important and last tiy I would saey. Let's stop the students wo old FocusGroup. There was a clear disperity between what aid administrators thatwould be confusing and what parents ARD students that would be confusing. Soonly one percentof ait administrators said there was nothing confusing aboutthe TESTA tetles. Twenty one percent of students saidthere was nothing confusing and twenty eight percent of parent, and so thisjust it shows you that there's a disconnect. So I think we could. Ithink we could learn some from maybe some of our marketing and our NROMENTteams using focus groups and getting feedback from students. So those arethe five actionabl steps hat that I see needing. That would improve thecommunication yeah you think in high right, especially when we're talkingabout fancialaid, that we'd be used to this idea of not trying to sell our internallanguage externally. When Students...

Wander Aron campus asking what is aBirthar, and where is that all? But let's T, let's dig into that vocabulary.Seventy percent of students claim that the language is unclear. An these inthese offer letters. What can we do to make sure that students- and honestlyyou mentioned that admens- are clear. Of course, I know the differencebetween cost of attendance verses that costs. I really don't Knowi, O DulMesohow. Can we educate both both Internallyso, that we can bettercommunicate to our students as well as how do we make sure that thet studentsreally understand the financial reality of these offers? Yeah? The word choiceis huge and we need to start with asking does a word or a data element,AD povet or value of the communication, so threy percent of respondence, TADEFC or expected family contribution atout was unclear. Does this reallyithis tis really surprise anyone it's an index? It's not a react. It's not arealistic number that that the family can actually contribute, and we arerenaming this in a couple of years, but the Broder question is: Do we need tolist EFC on an aid offer? This is a value that ye used to determine infederal methodology. What a the pudent get does it belong on the awar better,like part of the way we reduce confusion is oliminating the noise butunnecessary. So you know, I think we just have it on there, because it'sbeen on there for so long and we really haven't gone back and tried to justifywhy it's tere twenty three percent of respondence eported that costofattendance was unclear. This can be can be issues with understanding Bot. Whatan item is, but many students reported that they wee cut. There was confusion,actually not on what it was, but on how the amount was calculated. So you knowproviding maybe better transparency or...

...resources itd be really great. If wecould just have a single cost, you know and present that and have some moretransparency around closs o the townsis that the reality is that the numberskind of build on each other. And so I think we can do a lot to improvecomprehension by both educating on what the words mean, but also by showingstudents, imple calculation riht again showing them that each of each of thedata element comes together to equal, the total cost of attendance or wordgetting Tom. That cost they taking the cost of attendance, migheus the grant,colarship and Giftaid, and that's giving us en that cost and not just sayto sure that couse, but showing them actually how that calculation isoccurring. Because I found when working with stuterts they were. They were moreoverwelmed by the idea of the process. Then the actual process itself, when wesat down to explain to them what the next step, wer right and and we've kindof built it up in the media by like everybody, should be so confused andand so and there's all these plashy had lines about how difficult the financialaid processes and how complicated. So, if I keep telling you like, if I tellyou, you know or Ini, sit down with amy and itis going to be the most dreasfultwentin minutes of your life, she is going to she's going to bing you incircles and you're, going to hate every minute of it. You're going to come,you're going to come with this expectation, and it's not going to be the most pleasantexperience, and I feel like we've done, that a little bit with with some of thecollege admissions and Paynai Popisev, and don't give me wrong this here, thethin. Let's talk about the students that we're losing on both sides of thisissue, you get dou a feel for the...

...volume of students were losing upfrontbecause the offer actually looks worse than it actually is or losing later onpost enrollments, because it looks better than they realize they actuallycan't afford it, because we didn't spell it out well enough for them yeah.Do we know that thirty percent of students who do not in will to co incollege, don't think they can afford it when there could really be aqornableoptions for the student, so I mean they think about that a'. Thirty percent ofstudents who who don't enrole at every single college, are making thatdecision to the finances, and so it could be that will not communicatingthe financial options appropriately. It could be that we're not educating wellenough. Through the high school experience on untining, you can havestudents to ar missing out on the grants because of delaved sounts focompletion or they're leaving money on the table from an internal or anexternal scholarship sourch process. Just because of how complex and timecenter s the process could be, but even for those that make it into school, Iwas omproximately two million students each your due to financial reasons, andthis could be as small as as a five hundred dollar balance or or n. Theprorduce peaking them out of the college. Experience on average studntsare running out of money several times a year and face bollowing from familymembers or overexpending themselves, and so I think, there's a lot that wecan fix in the retension problem if we start to address betterl funding andsustainable funding for students from the big kinning and it's reporting usthe number. One reason that students lead school is financial and it's notjust it's not just paying the bill te Wul the impacts, the trust, the anxiety,the time, the attention that students...

...end up spending onm trying to overcomefinancial barriers when they're in school make it incredibly difficult forthem to be academically. Successful made me super super helpful stuff. Heleave us with any next steps, advice, institutions listening to this nodding,their heads going like I know, but I don't exactly know what to do next.They want to better communicate their financial offer. Where should theystart? First Ka th? The first that I would take is sitting down having adiscussion and setting some ground gles about this. Really being you know, anhonest open face face discussion in general: We've set up the anagementsystem, so financially professional is pretty tunitive, be no one. No onereally once in a while people come in and they're, like hey, financiallyyou're, doing great thanks so much we love onerything about you, there'snever a headlorne like that by the way, but the reality is because of the levelof complexity in the regulatory frame Merk, that's created and how schoolsare evaluated by the Department of Education through audits, whic kind oficompunitive the management system of our financial eteams. So we need Tholevel tat with them that this is a safe place to have a conversation aboutwhat's broken in the way, we're communicating with students with thegoal of fixing it that we got to this place. It wasn't Ittentional, but wereally need to look at our communication and again ask the thefivewive every time you're putting a piece of information on a communication.Why is it there? What's the purpose of this communication, and is this contentserving the purpose of the communication? I also think that ourfinancially teams, because of the way we focus from that regulatorystandpoint, sometimes those of us that are really great from a regulatorystandpoint- aren't necessarly the Bactormo diamic communicators,especially with the current college. Going generation, though leveragingcommunications experts that are already...

...an the college campus, whether it's inmarketing the enwolment to do life figuring out what it is that confusethe students rihe getting back to that student focus group. I think that'sreally important to get feedback and, lastly, I'll sae not getting complacent.So I didn't fully appreciate the itiative or agile clases until I workat a Soctfal Development Company, but knowing that that you should pick thisbutter backup, ticke these communications up anter once in a while,and you should make them better based on the SFEEDBACK Youre receiving socontinuing continual improvement on these communications based on steedbackSOM students I's really important. Make me thanks so much for your time today.What's the best place for listeners to connect with you, if they have mefollow up questions. Yeah, I'm available on Minkedon, unique en I amalso available by email, is in Scott Glen at campus. Logiccom yelissenerscan follow me on twitter if they choose Iniglan, sistes and and any of thosewould be, would be good ways to connect she's a great follow friends thanks somuch for joining us today. A D me thank you. This is great. I appreciate yourtime attracting today's new post. Traditional learners means adopting newenrolmant strategies. Helooks educations data driven enterprise, wideapproach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges anduniversities thrive in this new education, landscape and Helox has justpublished the second edition of their enrolment growth playbook, with fiftypercent brand new content on how institutions can solve today's mostpressing enromant growth challenges download it today for free at helocs,Educationcom playbook you've been listening to enromantgrowth university from helicks education to ensure that you never missan episode subscribe to the show in...

Itunes or your favorite podcast player.Thank you so much for listening until next time.

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