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Money Matters

AS COLLEGE TUITIONS rise, strong and effective links between Financial Aid and student billing processes and staffs become increasingly important. Financial Aid must also partner well with Admissions in support of achieving new student enrollment goals.

ACROSS THE COUNTRY, enrollments at community colleges are growing rapidly. According to 2004 data (the most recent) from the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES), almost 40 percent of all students enrolled in higher education institutions are enrolled at two-year institutions. There are many reasons for this growth, but two are most significant.

In exit interviews with students planning to transfer, the issue of affordability almost always tops the list of stated reasons for leaving.Institutions whose leaders take such responses at face value, however, could end up spending additional financial aid on upperclassmen without seeing any improvement in retention.

With enrollments and net tuition revenue at stake, more and more colleges and universities are seeking help from outside consultants in reviewing financial aid strategies. Here are 10 principles to follow to ensure that the consulting relationship is as productive as possible:

It's not uncommon for a capital campaign or annual fund drive to focus on scholarships or need-based grants. Here's how financial aid officers can help advancement staff make their fundraising case-and avoid pitfalls in establishing endowed scholarship programs.

An excellent place to start is factually demonstrating the need for funds. An aid officer should provide data to show:

Evidence of the growing gap between tuition charges and the typical enrollee's ability to pay.

More and more institutions are strategically bringing together interconnected offices such as Financial Aid, Bursar, Registrar, and Advising under a "one-stop shop" with the intention of improving customer service. However, if not planned and executed properly, the action could deteriorate rather than enhance service. The following real examples represent typical pitfalls to avoid in moving forward on your own campus.

Ask an admissions, financial aid, or enrollment management officer about their institution's "ratings." The conversation will likely turn to how the school stacks up in college guidebooks or U.S. News rankings.