Communicating about Financial Aid

Thursday, February 14, 2013

With families’ growing concerns about financing higher education, and the federal government’s increasing involvement in recommending and/or requiring certain communications regarding institutional costs, every institution should be taking a step back to review all of the tools currently being used to present affordability, explain the aid application process, and communicate the awards themselves.

Many institutions are using multiple vehicles for such communications, which can be good given that different students and families pay attention to different media. However, presenting information in multiple venues can also result in discrepancies that can confuse families. For example, even something as simple as the percent of students receiving aid or the tuition charged by an institution can be listed differently on the web versus in print, or on different pages of the institution’s website, with no clear explanation as to the reasons for the difference. Following are seven key steps to cover.