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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 #5 – Planned Transfer

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strategies to Decrease the Cost of College #8 – Sticker Shock

What do mattresses, new cars, and college tuition have in common?
You rarely pay full price.

Sticker Shock Tuition

When I do college planning workshops, I frequently hear – “that college is too expensive to attend”. 
Too many families mistakenly eliminate a school as soon as they see the “Sticker Price”. The result – paying more than necessary for a college education. Why?
Colleges (especially private schools) need to discount tuition from advertised prices to compete with other colleges and universities.
Many families I work with are surprised to learn in many instances a so-called “more expensive” college will cost them less out of pocket than schools with cheaper advertised prices. 
How can this be? First, you need to understand how colleges calculate a financial aid package. The primary consideration is demonstrated need. At it’s most basic this is the financial aid formula all colleges use:

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EFC is the amount of money you are expected to contribute for one academic year. It is calculated by completing the FAFSA and/or the CSS Profile (not required by every college). 
Your EFC is the same regardless of how much a school charges, thus your need varies based on the cost of attendance (COA). 

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To illustrate, let’s assume your family EFC is $5,000 and you are considering the University of Minnesota (UMTC), the University of North Dakota (UND) and St. Olaf College.
In addition to understanding how EFC is used in financial aid calculations, it is also critical to research (understand) what % of need a college historically meets.
Historically, the UMTC meets 76% of demonstrated need.
UND 64%.
St. Olaf 100%.
Why is this so important? Since your EFC is constant ($5,000), your financial aid offer from these schools will vary considerably. 

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UMTC will likely offer you $17,657 in aid. UND $10,924. St. Olaf $55,990.
In the right circumstance the “more expensive” St. Olaf will cost you less out of pocket than the “less expensive” UMTC or UND. 

 

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Will this calculation work exactly the same for every family. No!
Many factors are used to determine a financial aid award, such as how much they want your son or daughter to attend (called preferential packaging – a topic for another day). Preferential packaging determines how much “free” money they will offer in the form of scholarships and grants versus loans.
Yet, the reality in today’s admissions environment – most colleges and universities need to “compete” to enroll your son or daughter. 
Ask yourself, can Gustavus Adolphus College really attract all the students it needs to meet its enrollment goals if they charge every student $57,280 (Fall 2018 published COA) versus the UMTC which charged $28,233? 
No like, most colleges Gustavus will “discount” tuition from their published sticker price for many many students. 
Thus, it is really is not uncommon to receive a financial aid award which makes a “more expensive” college if not the less costly alternative, then comparable to a school with a low sticker price. Use this knowledge to your advantage to save $$$ on the cost of a college education. 
The best time to eliminate a school is at the end of this process after you have learned what a school is willing to offer you. Not at the beginning, when you see the advertised price!
You have choices.
Contact me today to learn how I will save you $$ on the cost of a college education.

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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