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Business Officer Magazine

More-Targeted Aid Policies

For institutional financial aid policies to be consistent with the mission and values of the college or university, senior administrators and trustees need to have strategic discussions based on very specific data. A new Web-based tool to provide that data was introduced and demonstrated in the session "Looking Under the Hood: The AGB/NACUBO Institutional Aid Metrics Project."

"The tool addresses several strategic questions," said Jerry Farley, president of Washburn University in Topeka, Kan. "Are we educating the students we need? Are those who receive aid being retained? Are we retaining the cost benefit?"

User institutions can view not only their own data, but can create a peer group of similar institutions for benchmarking. Users can explore 30 dimensions of institutional aid such as institutional grant aid as a percentage of total operating expenses, need-based and non-need-based aid, net tuition revenue, and much more. The metrics criteria were developed by an advisory committee of presidents, trustees, and CBOs.

"We charge less than it takes to educate the student, so that gap has to be closed somehow," said Jeffrey Trammell, former rector of the board of visitors at The College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Va. "How do we solve this problem in a way that's politically acceptable? Everything is affected by what you're devoting to financial aid."

AGB President Rick Legon agreed. "The value proposition of higher education is being challenged. The public is concerned that costs are high, tuition is high—and they don't understand the concept of the endowment. We want to encourage board members to convey the story of where institutional financial aid fits in."

The Web-based tool was developed through a three-year project undertaken by NACUBO and the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB), funded by the Woodruff Foundation, and with additional support from The College Board. There is no cost for member institutions of NACUBO and AGB to use the tool, but access is limited to top executives, administrators, and trustees.

For more details, read the article "Matching Grants" in the April 2014 issue of Business Officer or select the Research tab at

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