Five of the Top Metrics Used in Financial Aid



It doesn’t matter if it’s a large state university, local community college, or smaller private institution. One of the things all higher education organizations have in common is that they’re all focused on making sure each and every student is successful. Some campus departments work with the students directly to provide academic-related support. Other departments, such as Financial Aid, work with the students to make sure they have the necessary resources – in this case, financial support.

Importance of Financial Aid

In most cases, attending a higher education institution – whether it’s on campus or on line – can be quite expensive. This is why a Financial Aid department is present in almost every school. Their job is to give students and their families information, guidance, and access to ways of paying their educational expenses.

When dealing with a student’s or family’s finances and money, it’s especially important for the Financial Aid department to make sure they’re managing all the school’s incoming award, loan, and grant money effectively. It’s the department’s job to ensure that the money and awards are being distributed correctly and fairly.

Financial Aid Metrics

To help with the decision-making process, and to help manage everything Financial Aid related, financial aid directors and managers tend to utilize metrics-related dashboards. These dashboards can provide a great overview on all pertinent information. By using these dashboards, they can effectively monitor relevant data, look at common trends, and can get a good picture of incoming and outgoing finances.

There are tons of data available. So, what are some of the most used – and useful – metrics for a financial aid office? Based on conversations and interactions with various institutions, we’ve identified the following five metrics as ones worth paying attention to.

Projected aid and expenditures by type

It’s a good idea to have a general overview of incoming awards and loans and to see where the money is going. It’s also beneficial to see that information broken down by type of aid. Common types of aid include loans, grants, and scholarships (Federal, State, or Private). Other classifications of awards can be included as well.

Student earnings

Some awards, scholarships and grants are based on student or household income. To be eligible, or to maintain award disbursement, a student might have to fall within a certain income range and/or be limited to working a part-time job. Therefore, it is important to monitor those students, their income, and their hours worked.

General student profile

This is a general metric used by numerous departments throughout campus. It corresponds to the student’s status. It lets you know if the student is a graduate, undergraduate, or in a work study or general certification study program.

Student demographics

This, too, is a general metric used by multiple departments. It covers a rather large breadth of information and can include data pertaining to groups of students and individual students.

Regarding groups of students, the metric can include total number of freshmen, international students, undergraduates, transfer students, etc. Individual student demographic data could include geography, ethnicity, gender, in-state vs out-of-state, and international student status. Student demographics are important to Financial Aid because some awards are based on specific group or individual classification.

Student affordability

Though this metric is often tracked and made available through the Financial Aid department, it is actually more useful to the students themselves. It’s important to students because it provides valuable information as they decide which college or university they want to attend.

This key metric typically includes average borrower debt amounts upon graduation, income information, loan rates, and other data regarding students who graduate with debt and the burden of loan repayments.


There are plenty of metrics, as well as reports, that Financial Aid departments utilize on a regular basis. The five listed above may or may not be among those used by your department. Still, these are the ones that seem to be most commonly used by, and/or deemed most valuable to, Financial Aid departments as they work to ensure that students receive the financial support necessary to help them succeed.

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