Enrollment Management & FINANCIAL AID: A Multi-Part Series

By Kalsbeek, David H.; Hossler, Donald | College and University, Summer 2008 | Go to article overview

Enrollment Management & FINANCIAL AID: A Multi-Part Series


Kalsbeek, David H., Hossler, Donald, College and University


ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT HAS BECOME AN IMPORTANT LEADERSHIP FUNCTION ON MANY COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY CAMPUSES. IT IS ALSO ATTRACTING CRITICAL ATTENTION HERE AND ABROAD AMONG OBSERVERS OF OUR SYSTEM OF POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION. WITH THIS ESSAY, WE CONTINUE A SERIES THAT EXAMINES POLICIES AND PRACTICES THAT ARE CENTRAL TO CAMPUS-BASED EFFORTS TO MANAGE ENROLLMENTS AND ACHIEVE ENROLLMENT GOALS, THEREBY CLARIFYING AN "ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT PERSPECTIVE" ON ISSUES RANGING FROM ADMISSIONS MARKETING, TO RANKINGS, FINANCIAL AID, AND STUDENT SUCCESS. THE GOAL OF THESE ESSAYS, WHICH WILL BE FEATURED IN COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY, IS TO EXTEND OUR UNDERSTANDING OF ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT, EXAMINE THE UNDERPINNINGS OF THIS EMERGING PROFESSION, AND PROMOTE PROFESSIONAL DIALOGUE

Seeking a Strategic Integration

Since the emergence of the Enrollment Management perspective in the late 1970s and early 1980s, advocates of the concept have espoused the value and necessity of integrating financial aid into an institution's comprehensive enrollment strategy. Part of the reason is to better ensure a tight coupling of the complex recruitment, admission and financial aid processes for new students and to integrate financial aid with retention efforts. Part of the reason is to better ensure that there is coordination and complementarity between recruitment and admissions goals and the goals and resources of financial aid for providing access for those otherwise unable to afford college. In addition, financial aid has become a powerful means for shaping the institution's enrollment profile in ways beyond socioeconomic diversity; in combination with marketing, recruitment, admissions and retention strategies, financial aid has come to be instrumental in achieving an institution's desired enrollment size, diversity, academic profile, mix across academic programs, geographic draw, residential mix, and so on. Finally, at most institutions the enrollment goals are the revenue goals; successful enrollment management requires the management of financial aid in such a way that the number, mix and profile of enrolled students produces the desired net revenue after aid. There's no question that at an increasing number of institutions, the management of financial aid has become so tighdy intertwined with the concept and the practice of enrollment management that the two are essentially indistinguishable.

Increasingly, the focus on financial aid as a part of enrollment management efforts is raising two important questions. One focuses on internal policy and planning. Campus leaders at private and public institutions must weigh how much tuition revenue they can and should commit to financial aid as a means to achieve wide-ranging goals of prestige, diversity, and net revenue within the context of their academic missions and institutional capacities and economics. As a result, enrollment management leaders increasingly not only have to understand the use of financial aid as a means to achieve narrowly defined enrollment goals, but they also must actively participate in and inform the campus dialogue of the role and impact of financial aid on the institution's mission and academic goals. Moving beyond these internal, institutional considerations, as a profession, enrollment management leaders have an obligation to engage actively in the national (and increasingly international) dialogue about the role of financial aid policy and practice in the pursuit of broad societal goals of access and equity of educational opportunity.

In this essay we focus on those internal policy issues, to bring perspective to the integration and intersections of financial aid with enrollment strategy and institutional priorities.

UNDERSTANDING THE CONTEXT

As we noted in our first essay, the role of financial aid in comprehensive and integrated enrollment management has been the focus of much of the scrutiny of the practice of enrollment management and its increasing prevalence in higher education administration. …

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