University Business - July 2008 - (Page 27)

MONEY M AT T E R S Enrolling Transfers: A Matter of Service What students arriving from community colleges expect and need By Kathy Kurz, Jim Scannell, and Samantha Veeder S ENROLLMENTS AT U.S. community colleges continue to grow, some four-year institutions are beginning to view community colleges as competitors. Given current concerns regarding college affordability, the lower sticker price for community colleges— combined with living at home—does provide a cost-effective alternative for the first two years of a baccalaureate education. In fact, the rate of growth at these schools is now outstripping that of all other sectors, including for-profit institutions. The environment is ripe for two- and four-year institutions to work as partners to provide a smooth transition into a baccalaureate program for transfer students who have earned an associate degree. As competition for new freshmen gets tougher, transfers can become an important and particularly attractive enrollment stream. Transfers fill upper division classes where seats are likely available, add maturity to the residential community if they live on campus, and put less demand on campus housing generally, among other things. With all this in mind, many four-year institutions are increasing their visibility on two-year campuses by developing separate communication streams for transfers and assigning transfer “champions” in the admissions office to focus on new strategies to attract transfer students. Interestingly, recruiting more transfers typically doesn’t involve significant increases in institutional aid expenditures. In fact, enrolling more transfers can lower an institution’s discount rate. Here’s why: Fewer alternatives. Typically, transfer students are considering fewer options A Admissions office transfer ‘champions’ focus on new strategies to attract transfer students. than freshmen are during the college application process. While it is not uncommon for freshmen to apply to eight or 10 different colleges, transfers typically only apply to one or two. So transfer yield rates are much higher—often more than double— than freshman yield rates at the same institution. With yield rates already high, using financial aid to increase them further can be a slippery slope; the end result typically is just lower net tuition revenue. Consequently, institutions must use caution when introducing new financial aid initiatives to build transfer enrollments. Transfers care about affordability, yet they typically make enrollment decisions based on other factors: the credit they can “transfer in” and consequently their “time to degree,” the quality of the major, the timeliness and accuracy of information (they are more sophisticated consumers), and location. Institutions that are successful in enrolling transfers have figured out what they need to do organizationally and operationally to ensure transfers feel a sense of “fit” and belonging—that they are treated as first-class citizens. Customer service and course availability are more important priorities for transfers than getting the “best deal.” In short, they tend to be less price-sensitive than freshmen. As Don Emmons, vice president for enrollment at Hobart and William Smith Colleges (N.Y.), explains, “Although our transfer population is small, like most liberal arts colleges, we have found them to be somewhat less price-sensitive, and therefore as a subpopulation in our overall enrollment they contribute favorably to our net tuition revenue.” Access to more loan resources. Higher federal loan limits for upperclass students provide additional resources for transfer students. This can reduce the demand on institutional grants when building aid packages. Administrators should develop distinct financial aid packaging strategies for new transfer students, compared to those established for freshmen, in order to take advantage of the higher self-help levels (work-study and loans) available. At many campuses today, packaging strategies are the same for all new students, regardless of grade level, resulting in a significant missed opportunity to reallocate limited institutional grants when other resources are available. Kathy Kurz and Jim Scannell are partners in the enrollment management consulting firm Scannell & Kurz. Samantha Veeder, formerly the director of Financial Aid at Hobart and William Smith Colleges (N.Y.), is the firm’s senior consultant. They can be reached via their website, July 2008 | 27

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of University Business - July 2008

University Business - July 2008
College Index
Company Index
Advisory Board
Editor's Note
Behind the News
Money Matters
Financial Aid
Human Resources
Students in Need, Schools at the Ready
Security Officers Speak Out
Advancement Goes Digital
A New Day for NASFAA
Sustainable Admissions
What's New
End Note

University Business - July 2008