Your Higher Education Marketing Link of the Week… Muhlenberg College: Honesty in Financial Aid Awards… 7 December 2018

Honesty on Financial Aid: The more Muhlenberg wants you to enroll, the better your financial aid award

Muhlenberg College Real Deal on Financial AidHow colleges and universities make financial aid awards is a mystery to many parents and potential students.

Why, for instance, might a financial aid award from one school contain a higher grant award and a lower loan amount than an award from another school? How do colleges decide who gets a “merit” scholarship and who does not?

Muhlenberg College remains the only college or university that I’m aware of that presents an open, honest description of how financial aid packages are crafted for high school students. Simply put, “… money has become a means to enrolling the particular students that an institution most wants. This pehnomenon is called preferential packaging.”

We first selected this page as a Link of the Week in June 2013… so we’re pleased to see that it has weathered time well and continues today.

Parents, we’ve been told in past years, often mention this content favorably on campus visits. It speaks to the honesty of the college. It creates credibility. It works.

Several points about the process are covered in clear language free of most financial aid jargon:

  • “Preferential packaging means, simply, that the students a college would most like to enroll will receive the most advantageous financial aid packages.”
  • “A preferential financial aid package includes a far greater percentage of grant aid than self-help (loans and work).”
  • “In some cases, the total of grant from the college and the loans the student is entitled to may exceed the student’s financial need.”
  • “Students at the top of the applicant pool may receive Merit Scholarships designed to reward their outstanding high school record and further entice them to the college.”
  • “Students who are admitted but in the bottom half of the admitted student group will probably receive a package that is built from self-help up.”
  • “Some students nearer the bottom of the admitted student group are “gapped,” meaning that they have a financial aid package, but it may not meet their full need.”

Wise advice…

And thus this wise advice: “If money is a factor in your college search and it will impact your final choice, you should make sure to apply to colleges where you are clearly in the top third to top quarter of the applicant pool.”

You’ll find more detail in each area when you visit. Do you have something similar for potential students on your website? If you do, tell us here in the comment section and link us to the page.

How might this be better?

Search for “financial aid” and the “real deal” is the 3rd page returned, after links to the primary financial aid page and an online financial aid portal. That’s good. The page also appears under a right column heading: “Paying for Muhlenberg.”

Even better: add the page title and link from the admissions entry page under the prominent “Tuition and Financial Aid” heading in the center of the page.

On Mobile… a “Fair” download speed rating

Google Test My Site gives the Muhlenberg page a “Fair” rating for a 7 second mobile download speed, estimating a 26 percent visitor loss.

Follow the Link of the Week…

For an unusually honest description of how many colleges and universities create financial aid packages, visit Muhlenberg College for “The Real Deal on Financial Aid.”

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