Marshall University Using New Technology to Help Potential Students Learn about Value and Affordability of MU Degree
HUNTINGTON, W. Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Marshall University’s financial aid staff knows that one of the most stressful parts of becoming a college student is figuring out exactly how much a four-year investment will cost and how to pay for it.
“For example, we separate loan offers from gift aid offers so families can more easily recognize the difference between immediate and delayed out-of-pocket costs.”
To help more than 3,000 prospective new students better understand their scholarship and financial aid options, this past spring Marshall University began sending personalized letters that clearly outline what students and parents say they need to help make their decisions easier: How much it’s going to cost and how much financial aid is available.
The custom letters, created in partnership with Student Aid Services, Inc., help illustrate value and affordability in an easily understood format. Marshall University is among the nation’s first colleges – and the first in West Virginia – to replace standard aid award letters, which simply list awards, with highly personalized booklets that educate students and their families about the interrelation between costs, financial aid, and educational value.
The new award letters, called Your Personal Award Letter, are powered by Student Aid Services’ next-generation, financial aid award platform. This new approach enables a college to personalize its financial aid award communication with value and affordability information to help prospective students understand the return on their education investment. These booklets are dynamically generated in full color, with content tailored to each student’s individual profile.
“Just as we are committed to providing our students with experiential learning and personalized attention, we are also dedicated to ensuring that Marshall University is affordable for our students and their families,” said Kathy Bialk, Marshall University’s Director of Financial Aid. “But we needed to do a better job of demonstrating our tremendous value. Our Personal Award Letter does exactly that.”
Marshall University’s improved way of explaining aid and cost tackles an often confusing subject for prospective students and their families. The new approach clearly highlights an individual student’s real cost of attending Marshall University by explaining concepts such as net price, which is the cost of attendance minus grant and scholarship aid.
“It is crucial for students to understand their real cost as they compare financial aid packages from various colleges,” Bialk said. “For example, we separate loan offers from gift aid offers so families can more easily recognize the difference between immediate and delayed out-of-pocket costs."
Early feedback indicates that Marshall’s Your Personal Award Letter is already making a difference in prospective students’ financial aid literacy. According to Bialk, “Accepted students are able to ask the right questions, and they are doing so much earlier in the process of planning for college enrollment.”
Enrollment deposits for Marshall’s incoming class are up relative to the prior year, and that includes the number of out-of-state students. Marshall attributes part of the increase to its new award letter.
“We believe that the new award notification was a key differentiator as students compared offers during the critical moment when they made their final college decision,” said Bialk. “Student Aid Services seamlessly integrates its financial aid award letters with our enrollment campaign for consistent messaging and a professional appearance.”
“After being accepted, prospective students continue to compare their college options as financial aid awards are offered,” said Matthew Summer, Student Aid Services’ Vice President of Business Development. “With most students still in ‘shopping’ mode, many colleges realize the importance of this last opportunity to communicate how their education’s lifelong value eclipses the short-term costs.”
As part of its efforts to educate potential students about their real costs and help them prepare, Marshall University also provides on its website a custom net price calculator, powered by Student Aid Services, to estimate potential students’ aid, net price and out-of-pocket costs.
About Marshall University
Founded in 1837, Marshall University is West Virginia’s oldest public institution of higher education. Marshall provides innovative undergraduate and graduate education that contributes to the development of society and the individual through the preservation, discovery, synthesis and dissemination of knowledge. Marshall’s primary campus is in downtown Huntington, with additional campuses and centers in South Charleston, Point Pleasant, Teays Valley and Beckley.
About Student Aid Services, Inc.
Student Aid Services, Inc. is a technology and services company that enables colleges and universities to communicate affordability and convey their unique value. Its capabilities address both the aspirations and the concerns of prospective students by presenting personalized information in a variety of media. The services provided include the nation’s most sophisticated net price and student aid estimation technology, advanced financial aid award letters, personal student enrollment booklets, custom marketing and communication programs, financial aid support programs and data analytics. These technologies and services help colleges increase prospective student engagement and achieve enrollment goals. To learn more about the company, please visit www.StudentAidServices.com.
Personal Enrollment Prospectus and Enrollment Enhancement Solutions are trademarks of Student Aid Services, Inc. or its affiliates in the United States, other countries or both.