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The Financial Aid Appeals Process and a Loan Repayment Assistance Program

March 25, 2019

We get the chance to partner with many different kinds of institutions. Each is unique in its approach to higher education and the various circumstances of its market. Some of our partners are larger and some are smaller. We try to meet each where they are to help them grow.

One area where we see a lot of variety is in the financial aid appeals process. Some of our partners have admissions teams with a very formal appeals process in place, and some are allowed the freedom to be more fluid in their discussions with students and families.

There’s no question that, within the industry, there is a greater trend toward families desiring to negotiate when their financial aid award package arrives. This often involves additional time spent communicating for admissions teams and can have a negative impact on productivity and yield.

Whether your institution has a formal process for appealing financial aid awards or not, odds are your admissions team is experiencing families expressing hesitation about moving forward with enrollment now that financial aid award letters are out.

Many families will likely feel this way because they are afraid they will not be able to manage student loan payments after graduation.

A loan repayment assistance program (LRAP) does the work of reassuring those families that, if income after graduation is below a certain amount, there will be help paying student loans. We recently partnered with two respected higher education research organizations, STAMATS and CREDO, to compile studies of admitted students and their parents. Results from this recent third-party data shows that:

  • 4 out of 5 families said having access to such a program (LRAP) would affect their approach to financing college (Stamats Partner School Study).
  • Nearly 2x preference for the college among prospective students & parents when the LRAP was introduced (Stamats Partner School Study).
  • 5% of parents stated their student simply would not have enrolled without the LRAP (Credo Partner School Admitted Student and Family Research).

Additional research from our own satisfaction survey shows that:

  • 84% of graduates with LRAP said having LRAP as a financial safety-net helped make it possible for them to attend their preferred college (2018 Graduate LRAP Assistance Satisfaction Survey).

Most families use cost to narrow down their list of choices. This is made evident in the most recent information from SallieMae’s annual study on college.

  • Specifically, 79% eliminated colleges from consideration due to their being too expensive for the family and
  • More than half of all families (53%) eliminated colleges based on perceived cost even before researching them. (SallieMae’s 2018 survey “How America Values College”)

Now is the time to reassure prospective students and families expressing hesitation. If you are interested in learning more about what it would look like to bring LRAP to your campus, watch recordings from one of our recent webinars where we have shared specific case studies.