Your Higher Education Marketing Link of the Week… Dartmouth College: Financial Aid Defined… 27 January 2023

Financial aid clarity at Dartmouth College

Dartmouth CollegeNothing can be more confusing to normal human beings than the language used to describe the financial aid process. Many schools maintain a “glossary” of financial aid terminology to help people understand the process.

Dartmouth College does this better than most.

What makes Dartmouth different from about 30 similar pages visited is obvious right from the start. Rather than simply starting with “A” and working through the alphabet, Dartmouth first lists 6 “Most Commonly Searched Terms.”

  • Cost of Attendance
  • Demonstrated Financial Need
  • Direct Costs
  • Grants and Scholarships
  • Indirect Costs
  • Net Price

Writing right for the web…

The rest of the page as you move through the alphabet is easy to follow re font size and color use. We don’t take that for granted. In our search this week we found more than a few glossary pages suffering from light text on a white background and a font size that violated the “don’t make them squint” rule of web writing.

Dartmouth CollegeSpecial feature: After a minute or two on the page a link appeared with the average amount of financial aid offered ($66,000) and a link to the MyinTuition quick cost estimator with a note that it would only take 6 questions and 300 seconds for an estimate of likely net cost to the person completing the form. (The mobile version promises “less than five minutes” to complete.)

We didn’t see an obvious link from any other glossary page to a net cost calculator. That’s a marketing mistake.

What happened to “disbursement”?

Missing from the glossary was a definition of the “disbursement” word. That seems a mistake as the term is used just about everywhere in the financial aid world in contacts with students receiving an award. Here are two examples of what’s in use, one good and one not nearly as good:

  • An simplicity and clarity award goes to Hood College: “A payment from scholarships, grants or other sources.”
  • Compare that to this definition at a university that will remain anonymous: “A timeframe for processing refunds.”

Follow the Link of the Week…

See how Dartmouth College helps people understand financial aid when you visit the “Financial Aid Glossary.”

Speed on mobile… 8.1 seconds to first view,  22.3 seconds to full interactivity

Google PageSpeed Insights measures the time to first view on a mobile phone at 8.1 seconds… slow. Time to full interactivity was 22.3 seconds. Really slow.

The first step to improving mobile speed: “Eliminate render-blocking resources.”

Website Carbon Calculator… An “Uh oh!” rating

Thanks to Gerry McGovern and his efforts to reduce “world wide waste” for the referral.

The Dartmouth glossary page rating of “dirtier than 69% of web pages tested” is worse than several pages recently tested.

Does your website help or hurt the climate? Test your website pages at “Website Carbon Calculator.”

Recommend a future Link of the Week

Always eager to get recommendations of websites that dare to be different… or just do something ordinary in a special way. Write a comment with link here or send me the link at

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