Financial concerns cause nearly 3 million students to drop out of college each year.
Researchers at Tyton Partners believe a student-centered approach to financial aid could help reduce those numbers. In a recent report, the Boston-based advising firm chronicled the challenges posed by the current system and examined potential solutions through a survey of more than 1,800 higher ed administrators.
Their take? Targeted communication could help improve the process for both students and colleges.
“According to administrators, the biggest challenges preventing students from accessing aid are lack of student engagement, lack of awareness, and insufficient financial aid,” the report notes. “All three of these issues are addressable through improved communication between the institution and the student.”
New communication methods, such as texting, could help break down some barriers. Specialized tech-driven solutions for creating financial aid packages are also needed, the report states.
In their survey — funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and conducted in collaboration with NACAC, AACRAO, and NASFAA — researchers found many colleges struggle to efficiently package financial aid awards.
“A significant number of institutions lack automated scholarship processing systems — about 30 percent according to the Tyton Partners survey — and many institutions continue to put together student financial aid packages by hand,” according to report. “Creating packages by hand lends itself to human error, and using systems that lack the flexibility to adjust for individual student circumstances can leave some students without appropriate financial aid.”
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