Q. What should our virtual approach to financial aid look like since we can no longer host events or meetings in person?
Financial aid is a particularly tough area because it is the area where many institutions have a lot of private conversations with families in person when they visit campus. Thinking about how to best recast that into a virtual environment is quite difficult.
One way to approach financial aid conversation is through a three-tiered approach. The top level would include the kind of informational resources can you provide to everyone—such as videos, webinars, etc. Use this level to convey the kind of top-level information that everybody needs to know so you can get at a lot of the big questions out of the way.
Then there is a mid-tier type of information that address the next 10-15 common questions asked by a subset of your prospects that often come in individual counseling session. To address these, think about creating a frequently asked questions (FAQ) and developing some kind of a short video series to answer the kinds of questions that you are usually asked and answered in these private settings.
Finally, the third tier of information is to figure out what kind of platforms you can use to create the ability to have one-on-one appointments between financial aid counselors and families that preserve their privacy and security. Chat, for example is not an ideal vehicle for this. Telephone would be better, but video conferencing would probably be a better step above that to best simulate the experience you would have with that family in front of you in an office on campus.
More from the Wake-Up Call…
Over the past couple of weeks, the tide has shifted optimistically toward plans for an on-campus fall semester. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, 68% of colleges now say this is their intent.
As the weeks go by, higher education leaders face the looming prospect of a fall semester during a pandemic amid the sharpest economic contraction in nearly a century.
The past six weeks have transformed higher education and introduced many unknowns. Things taken for granted are now suddenly up in the air. Questions about going online, communicating with prospective students, preparing for fall, and shoring up the right technology suddenly have new meaning in the age of COVID-19.