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Strategies to Decrease the Cost of College #3 – Yield

 

What does “yield” have to do with college cost savings? Savvy consumers who understand how critical this figure is in admissions can often yield (pun intended) significant cost savings.
Yield is the metric most admissions directors obsess, fret, lose sleep over. Simply, yield = the number or percentage of admitted students who actually enroll and attend.
So, exactly why is yield important and why should you pay attention? Every college sets enrollment goals for its incoming class. Very few schools can boast of a yield rate like Stanford University of 82%:
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In reality, many colleges today scratch and claw for every student they enroll. In the 2018 State of College Admissions, the National Association for College Admission Counseling reported the average yield rate continues to decline – down to 33.6%.
Couple this with the fact the number of traditional college-aged students enrolling declined for the 7th consecutive year – Current Term Enrollment Fall 2018, National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. means colleges (and admissions directors especially) feel the heat when they do not meet enrollment goals.
Multiple years of “low yields” translates to declining enrollments – which means budget shortfalls. On more than one campus I worked this meant delays in campus initiatives, building projects/upgrades or worse yet – program cuts and staff layoffs.
Is it any wonder many campus administrators and admissions directors lose sleep over “yield”?
Don’t feel too bad for them, they understand the ground rules, besides colleges have been less than transparent over the years in the pursuit of enrolling students:
  • Bombarded with brochures – a college reaching out doesn’t necessarily mean they have any intention of admitting you – many entice applications for the sole purpose of lowering admit rates in an attempt to boost rankings. 
  • Bait and switch – awarding more “free money” (grant and scholarship) to incoming freshman, and converting a % of this free money to loans in subsequent years. (always read the fine print on your financial aid award). 
  • Preferential Packaging – The art of offering more grants and scholarships to students it really wants to attract versus offering more loans to those “less desirable”.
  • Hidden costs – differential tuition rates, hidden fees, advertising room & board as “true” cost of attendance when in reality these are the “average” prices students pay,  etc. 
  • Do you really think early decision and early action admissions deadlines are designed to benefit “students”? If you do I have some property I would like to speak with you about.
  • etc., etc., etc. 
I digress…
Most colleges want- in actuality need – to yield as many students as possible from its pool of accepted students. Colleges often do “whatever it takes” to protect their yield. How might one benefit?
Let’s say hypothetically, Luther College is your top choice. Luther at 19% doesn’t have nearly the yield rate as Stanford.

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Furthermore, let’s assume Luther tends to compete with say, Gustavus Adolphus College (18% yield rate by the way), for the same pool of students.
Remember it is best to never eliminate a school until the end of this process – even if you have no intention of enrolling. Thus, hypothetically, I might suggest you show enough demonstrated interest in both schools to receive an offer of admissions.
For argument’s sake, we will say Gustavus Adolphus offered you $2,000 annually more in merit scholarships than Luther. You really prefer Luther, but…
Wink, Wink. Nudge. Nudge. See how “hypothetically” leveraging Luther’s “yield rate” versus Gustavus’s higher offer might potentially work in your favor (theoretically of course)?
Understanding the dynamics of “yield” can and does lead to cost savings – remember the average yield rate is currently about 33%. It will not work at every school, every situation is unique, and results can vary from year to year, but families can and do successfully mediate better financial packages.
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Need help finding good match colleges. Contact me. and I can work with you to shave thousand’s of $$ off a college degree.  

Jeff has spent 30+ years working in higher education as a Registrar and Director of Student/Academic Services. As an educational college planning consultant, he uses his experience and insights to save you $$$ by helping you in identify “good match” colleges to fit your academic, social and financial needs.

 

Strategies to Decrease the Cost of College #4 – Graduation Rates

 

College Graduation

What is the admit rate to Harvard? Stanford? University of Minnesota?
Many know because so much gets written and too much emphasis is placed upon how difficult it is to get into certain colleges.
When considering colleges, rarely does one ask, “What is Wossamotta U’s graduation rate?” When the ultimate end game is to graduate – I want to know how long it will take to get out.
Today it takes students on average 5.1 years to graduate with his/her four-year degree, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Thus, it is important to understand the likelihood I am paying for four, five or six years to finish a degree.
The graphic below highlights how much a degree will cost (based on Fall 2018 cost of attendance) if completing it in four, five or six years at three different schools. 

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Sadly, four in ten families have no strategy to pay for four years of college, let alone five plus – Sallie Mae 2017 – How American Pays for College. – with each year beyond four typically funded by taking on increased debt.
It is extremely important to find and enroll at a good fit school. Statistics tell us tells there is a direct correlation between choosing a “good match” school and your retention and ultimate graduation from that school – even if it takes you > four years. But, the numbers do tell us something.
Look at the percentage of students who graduate from these schools in four years:
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Compared to:
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Comparing graduation rates can yield potential cost-savings. In a surprising number of instances, your overall out of pocket costs will be lower if you graduate in four years from a “higher cost” school than six years from a school with a lower sticker price.
Just as I advocate never eliminating a school based on its sticker price if Winona State University is a good fit and your top choice do not eliminate it solely because their four-year graduation rate is lower than others.
All schools have warts and many students leave for a variety of reasons having nothing to do with the college itself, and just because the typical student doesn’t graduate in four years it does not mean you will not, however…
Be mindful of certain realities – something systematic regarding how a school offers (sequences) classes or the types of students it attracts or its student services/resources or cost of attendance, or funding mechanisms or etc., makes it more difficult to graduate in four years than other schools.  
Focus less on admit rates. Pay more attention to graduation rates when determining if a college is a good financial fit.
After all, the goal is to graduate. And in my humble opinion – in four years or less!
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Need help finding good match colleges. Contact me. and I can work with you to shave thousand’s of $$ off a college degree.  

Jeff has spent 30+ years working in higher education as a Registrar and Director of Student/Academic Services. As an educational college planning consultant, he uses his experience and insights to save you $$$ by helping you in identify “good match” colleges to fit your academic, social and financial needs.

Strategies to Decrease the Cost of College #5 – Planned Transfer

 

Transfer 2

I was reading an article the other day about how community college students can transfer to “Top” universities even an Ivy League school. The article highlighted the journey of a young man from a community college to Harvard, the implication – you can too.
What bull#8@%. Not total bulls… but mostly. Why?
The reality is “highly selective” – any school admitting less than 25% of students are not transfer friendly. Sure a handful of students transfer to these schools every year, but look at the numbers for Fall of 2017:
You might look at Northwestern University and think, “Not so bad”, until you realize Northwestern received 37,000+ applications for Fall 2017. Your odds are less than good and planning to transfer to these types of schools is not a practical strategy. 
The good news – many many colleges are transfer friendly. In fact, a large number rely on a steady stream of transfer students to meet enrollment goals every year.
A planned transfer is a great way to save on the overall cost of a college degree. Note the emphasis on “planned”.

 

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The first step in any planned transfer is to determine how transfer friendly a school is.
As a general rule of thumb, the greater the % of students admitted, the greater the likelihood a school is transfer friendly. Fortunately, it is not difficult to determine how selective a school is. There are plenty of college planning resources to utilize.
My favorite is – College Navigator. Search for a college and expanding the admissions tab reveals the admit rate:  

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Once you have determined if a college or two “might” be transfer-friendly, next research how these schools actually accept transfer credits.
Many colleges publish this information on their web site. Some even have handy tools to help you determine how credits will transfer from another school.
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UW – Eau Claire Transfer Wizard 

Many will refer you to Transferology (if they participate) an excellent transfer credit resource or MN Transfer. If you do your homework, you can determine exactly how schools will transfer your credits. But… 
Beware of general catalog statements (and even many articulation agreements). Many read a statement such as 

Transferring with an Associate Degree

  • The Minnesota Transfer Curriculum (MnTC) will grant a waiver of General Education requirements 
  • Associates of Arts (AA) degrees from Wisconsin and Minnesota will grant a waiver of University Requirements AND General Education requirements
and assume two years at a community college and two years at a four-year school and bingo – done.
Not so fast… Failing to understand what these statements really mean could result in not saving any money at all.
At the University of Wisconsin – River Falls (online catalog statement above) what they are really telling you is if you complete an associates degree at a community college you don’t need to complete the approximately 42 credits every student regardless of major must satisfy – their general education component is covered by your associate’s degree.
However, at UW-River Falls (75% admit rate) it takes a minimum of 120 credits to graduate… the remaining courses in your AA degree may or may not cover the other coursework necessary to complete your major.

UW River Falls

Many students can and do complete their associate’s degree, transfer to UW River Falls and complete a bachelors degree in two years. Others think this is the case, yet fail to research and determine how each and every course will transfer and do not.  
Just like a dual degree cost-saving strategy, you need to understand there is a BIG BIG BIG difference between a course being accepted in transfer and how it will be used to satisfy a degree requirement. Did I mention BIG?
Sure, many schools will accept your Associate’s Degree classwork in transfer, but the critical question you need to ask yourself  – how many actually count toward the X number of credits I need to complete my degree program?
When working with a family on a planned transfer – we don’t focus on completing an associate degree or in many cases explicitly following an established articulation agreement. We work backward. Strategically, determining how each and every course will transfer and reduce the number of credits needed to graduate. 
Often this means a student only spends two or three semesters at a community college. Why? Pretty simple really. For many majors, you will maximize the number of credits which will satisfy degree requirements at your targeted transfer school before you complete an associate’s degree. 
A planned transfer is a great college cost-saving strategy. It may not get you into Harvard, but if you are strategic and diligent it will save you money at plenty of “good fit” schools!

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Seem like a great idea, but too time-consuming? Contact me. and I can work with you to shave thousand’s of $$ off a college degree.  

Jeff has spent 30+ years working in higher education as a Registrar and Director of Student/Academic Services. As an educational college planning consultant, he uses his experience and insights to save you $$$ by helping you in identify “good match” colleges to fit your academic, social and financial needs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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