In estimating enrollment behavior, there are variables that are typically significant, such as financial need, total grant, quality measures, intended major, distance from campus, etc. Although the set of variables and their magnitudes are specific to each institution, there are some indicators that are usually more predictive than others.
In addition, students that help further an institution’s mission and goals, such as increasing quality or diversity, tend to be at a premium in the pool and often are candidates for additional institutional aid. Families typically understand that this is the case. They may not like it, but they understand it.
Explaining that different institutions have different profiles, goals and resources as the reason a student received differing award amounts from competing schools is not always an easy conversation, but doable.