Muhlenberg College and the “Real Deal” on Financial Aid
In yesterday’s blog post on a parent’s reaction to the cost difference between Northeastern University and University of Connecticut, I mentioned the practice of “preferential packaging” that is widespread in the private sector and not unknown among public institutions.
Preferential packaging isn’t new in 2009. Financial magazines like Kiplingers and Money have been writing about it since the mid-1990s. But you won’t find much straight talk about it on college and university websites.
Muhlenberg College has been an outstanding exception to that practice for over 10 years. Visit “The Real Deal on Financial Aid” and you’ll find an explantion of how financial aid is awarded that is quite rare.
Preferential Packaging Defined
Muhlenberg provides this definition: “Preferential packaging means, simply, that the students a college would most like to enroll will receive the most advantageous financial aid packages” created from a mix of grants, loans, and work opportunities.
- People who are most desired may even receive awards higher than their actual “need.”
- People who are in the “bottom half” of the class will see loans and more work to meet their costs.
That’s it. The language is clear. The page is easy to find from the first admissions page.
Reality Marketing Builds Credibility
Those familar with Muhlenberg’s enrollment history since the mid-1990s know that that this page did not hinder steady progress toward increased applications, a higher academic profile, and a lower tuition discount rate.
Parents and students who visit the site just might think that a college that speaks honestly about how it awards financial aid will also speak honestly about other elements critical to the college selection process.
Credibility like that builds brand strength.
In this age where transparency in financial matters is increasingly desired, more institutions might follow the Muhlenberg example.
That’s all for now.