With as many as 6,000 students dropping out of college each day, the college completion crisis in the United States is real.
This week we dove into recent responses from our periodic Financial Check-In, which is part of our weekly sequence to students throughout the academic year. We checked in with students to gauge their financial stress levels and we connected those struggling to helpful resources based on their specific needs.
The process is simple. We ask students to tell us how they feel about their personal financial situation. For most institutions, about one-third of their students reply to this prompt — the majority of those respondents indicated high or overwhelming stress.
Addressing Financial Issues Beyond Tuition
Students who indicate they are stressed about their finances may not be able to articulate their true challenge. Leveraging our research-backed framework we understand that having financial distress typically falls into five distinct categories:
Housing & Food Insecurity
Supporting a Family Member
Balancing Work & School
Leveraging AI chatbots, EdSights partners can dig deeper with students experiencing financial distress and get to the root of the true challenge. In this most recent check-in, over 70% of students indicated something other than tuition payments as their top financial challenge.
On the surface this makes sense. If most students receive tuition assistance, and typically that's sorted out in a lump sum at the beginning of the semester, it should come as no surprise that they’re worried by day-to-day expenses..
Unfortunately, it can be hard to find resources for things like meals when the dining hall is closed or for paying increased rent. Recently, the Hechinger Report identified that increased rent is driving challenging decisions about college enrollment. Our most recent data found that for those respondents who did not indicate tuition challenges, nearly one-third indicated food or housing insecurity as their top challenge.
Establishing a Process for Student Success
Supporting student success goes beyond saying programs and resources are in place. In order to effectively make an impact, we must establish processes for identifying and reaching the students who need these resources the most. A flyer about the new food pantry in the campus center doesn’t reach the student who skipped their last meal to work an extra shift to help pay the bills. And while it’s easy to draft an email to the campus population, we all know how mass messaging is received by today’s students.
A more effective method is to use available resources to identify the students who need support services most. Then send a personal notification to them about the resources that will best benefit them. Connecting via SMS text messaging also keeps the conversation private; establishing a safe space for students to engage without fear of being judged.
It’s one thing to establish programs. Getting students to know about and use them is a different challenge altogether.
By Gil Rogers
Head of Marketing at EdSights
Gil is a recognized leader in higher education enrollment management having served in leadership roles at the University of New Haven (CT) as well as Director of Enrollment Marketing at Chegg, Director of Marketing at NRCCUA (now Encoura) and most recently as Executive Vice President at PlatformQ Education.
Gil has conducted numerous research studies on student engagement published by Inside Higher Ed, The Chronicle of Higher Education and presented at numerous regional and national conferences focused on student recruitment and engagement including the National Association of College Admission Counseling (NACAC), Ruffalo Noel Levitz National Conference, ACT Enrollment Planners Conference, TargetX Summit and more.