Insights from the 2016 NACUBO Student Financial Services Conference

March 22, 2016 3:10:16 PM EDT / by John Fees

This started as a simple post to share some insights from the 2016 NACUBO Student Financial Services Conference, held last week in Memphis, TN.

This year's NACUBO conference featured productive discussions on how student financial services are contributing to college completion and how they are adapting to new regulations and expectations by students and their families.NACUBO_Logo_copy.jpg

Industry conferences, particularly in higher education, are wonderful moments to get a clear view of the trends impacting multiple schools.  It is clear to me that higher education professionals are deeply committed to improving transparency and college completion rates.  

This trend is evident in the outstanding content featured at this year's conference:

Implementing a Student Financial Responsibility Agreement - A best practice recommended by NACUBO. This was a great session led by Janet Burkhardt of University of Denver and Bryan Dickson from NACUBO.

Student Retention-From a Financial Perspective and Beyond - Led by the enthusiastic team of Shawn Mathis and Chris Simon of Hendrix College.  Hendrix College is fortunate to be served by a team dedicated to using student financial services data to target high retention risks and various resources to be more proactive in retaining students through graduation.

Student Financial Literacy and Social Media - Making an Impact on Your Campus - Presented by Doug Schantz, Wittenberg University offers another example of how schools are engaging students and better educating them on personal finance topics.  

Common and Emerging Best Practices for Disclosing and Managing Tuition Refunds - Facillitated by myself and two outstanding professionals, Michael Reynolds of Auburn University and Peter Tom from University of Southern California. This panel session explored the growing impact and frequency of student medical withdrawals and the increasing cost of the financial losses experienced by institutions and families.  
After attending such a content-packed conference, it is sometimes hard to know where to start when one returns to campus.  Here are my observations made particularly for Bursars, Student Financial Services and Chief Finanical Officers:
  1. Develop a clear link between student financial services and student success.  Like Hendrix College, this strategy ties the work of institutional finance and student finance to college completion. Evaluate how your institution measures retention and be sure to exclude medical withdrawals; also evaluate the number of students who leave and return to school following unexpected medical or family events.
  2. Implement a Student Financial Responsibility Agreement. NACUBO has made this recommendation to all schools, yet apparently many schools remain reluctant to implement such an approach. The value of these agreements are vital to schools who seek to be transparent with students and families, while also ensuring that the institution will have standing to collect on accounts receivable.
  3. If your institution does not provide 100% refunds for student medical withdrawals, evaluate how your school manages tuition refunds and disclosure requirements. Determine how your instutition verifies that students have been adequately informed and provided "notice" of your policy. Provide an opportunity for families to protect themselves from financial losses through tuition insurance.
  4. Download and share the study and one page Tuition Refunds & Disclosures Infographic.
  5. Speak with any of our friendly team of professionals at GradGuard to see if we help.


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Topics: student success, Tuition Insurance, Refund Policy, Higher Education Policy, Transparency, leadership, college completion, Disclosures, Higher Education, nacubo,

John Fees

Written by John Fees

John Fees is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of GradGuard™. Fees is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he received a bachelors of science degree in History and is also a graduate of Harvard Business School where he completed a Masters in Business Administration. John Fees lives in Phoenix, Arizona and is married to Melissa Soza Fees, Ph.D. and is the father of five children. He is the Treasurer for the Arizona College Success Arizona, a Director of College Parents of America, Founding Director and investor in Tonto Creek Camp which provides service leadership experiences to 8,000 students annually. He is also an active member of University Risk Management and Insurance Association and the Professional Insurance Marketers Association.

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