HEat Index, Issue 20 – Financial Aid & Enrollment, Internships, and IT Modernization



Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Financial aid timing affects enrollment decisions. While I doubt anyone in enrollment management would be surprised by that headline, we’ll explore the implications of those findings. We’ll also look at traits of high-quality internships, modernizing IT applications, and positive news about retention rates in this week’s issue.

[Also, a quick programming note. The HEat Index will be taking next week off. We’ll be back in your inbox on July 11th. Have a happy and safe Fourth of July!] 

After reading today’s issue, use the comments section to let us know how your institution offers internships!   



Financial Aid Timing Affects Enrollment Decisions 

From Financial aid timing, clarity shape enrollment decisions | Inside Higher Ed    A new report finds that the timeliness and clarity of financial aid offers impact students’ enrollment decisions.   

Our Thoughts 

While I appreciate the results of this survey, I do wonder if they were influenced by the FAFSA fiasco. Had this been a normal financial aid season, would students (and their parents) have been as acutely aware of the timing of the financial aid process? It was a simple survey, conducted by an educational technology company, so it’s unlikely they accounted for this variable in their findings.    However, even with that caveat, this is still valuable information to consider during your enrollment management process. Financial aid is a pivotal factor for many students, and timely, transparent communication can significantly influence their educational decisions. It also reinforces the importance of the College Cost Transparency Initiative, which was designed by 10 higher education associations to improve the transparency of student financial aid offers. Encourage your institution to consider joining if they haven’t already!   



Quality Internships 

From What does a quality internship program look like? | University Business   Strada Education Foundation suggests six traits of a quality internship program.   

Our Thoughts  

In last week’s issue (2024 Issue 19), we featured the results of the Inside Higher Ed Student Voice Survey, which found that students wanted more robust career resources. One way to improve those services is through a quality internship program.    This report from the Strada Education Foundation provides a blueprint to ensure your institution has a strong program that provides equitable access to internships. Insights from this report can help your institution better support students, particularly those from under-resourced backgrounds, ensuring they gain valuable work experience without financial strain.   The report also emphasizes the need for systemic changes and collaborative efforts between institutions, employers, and policymakers. This collaboration is important to ensure the long-term success of your internship program.    



Centralized IT Gains 

From What Universities Gain from Centralized Application Modernization Programs | EdTech Magazine    EdTech Magazine makes the case for centralizing IT functions through application modernization.   

Our Thoughts 

I don’t plan to delve into the ongoing debate about centralized versus decentralized IT systems, but I do think this article presents balanced insights into the benefits and drawbacks of each approach. Increasingly, our campuses run on hundreds of different software applications, some of which are starting to show their age and may no longer be meeting the needs of our diverse populations. This article offers practical advice on how to start modernization projects to improve the digital experience for our campus community.   Additionally, it provides valuable perspectives on balancing centralized control with the flexibility of decentralized decision making. Its insights can assist you with IT planning and policymaking as you attempt to navigate the complexities of IT modernization effectively.   



Decade High Retention Rates 

From First-year persistence and retention hit decade high | Higher Ed Dive    Recent research from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center reveals that last year’s persistence and retention rates hit their highest levels in the past decade.   

Our Thoughts 

It is welcome and exciting news that persistence and retention rates are both on the rise, indicating a strong recovery and even growth post-pandemic. Higher persistence rates mean more students are continuing their education, which is beneficial for both students and institutions in terms of stability, enrollment, and financial planning. This trend suggests that the efforts made by institutions to support students during the pandemic are paying off.   However, the ongoing FAFSA fiasco could potentially impact these positive trends. Delays and challenges related to FAFSA processing present barriers for students, particularly those from underrepresented or financially insecure backgrounds. These challenges may affect their decision to persist in their studies, so it is crucial that institutions continue to work with current students to address FAFSA issues this summer.

Allen Taylor
Allen Taylor
Senior Solutions Ambassador at Evisions

Allen Taylor is a self-proclaimed higher education and data science nerd. He currently serves as a Senior Solutions Ambassador at Evisions and is based out of Pennsylvania. With over 20 years of higher education experience at numerous public, private, small, and large institutions, Allen has successfully lead institution-wide initiatives in areas such as student success, enrollment management, advising, and technology and has presented at national and regional conferences on his experiences. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Anthropology from Western Carolina University, a Master of Science degree in College Student Personnel from The University of Tennessee, and is currently pursuing a PhD in Teaching, Learning, and Technology from Lehigh University. When he’s trying to avoid working on his dissertation, you can find him exploring the outdoors, traveling at home and abroad, or in the kitchen trying to coax an even better loaf of bread from the oven.

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