Although the focus of the exercise was to examine new tuition models, the secondary purpose was to incorporate new initiatives that Wofford could use to differentiate itself from its higher education competition.
The goal of these initiatives was to enhance the student experience without significantly impacting the college’s bottom-line. One contributing factor to the financial feasibility of these initiatives was timing, especially if the initiatives were
launched when tuition revenue is in flux. Synario allowed the finance team, president and cabinet to explore the effects of different launch dates for each initiative.
Continuing Student Scholarships
One way Wofford considered differentiating itself from competitors was to offer each student a $1000 scholarship if their GPA is at or above a 3.00. This initiative provides Wofford’s marketing team with a unique way to draw in student interest
and give high performing students a discount on tuition fees.
Offering more student aid, however, directly impacts the college’s contributions to operating reserves. Through Synario, Wofford’s finance and executive teams were able to alter the initiative to look at the bottom-line impact if the GPA threshold
was increased to 3.25 and 3.50.
It was quickly determined that Wofford would need to implement a tuition model that significantly increased its contributions if the college planned on offering the scholarship at the 3.00 GPA threshold.
In this initiative model, the student scholarship is consistently set at $1000 and discount rate just over 30%. Each graph shows the difference against the bottom line if Wofford offered the scholarship to students with GPAs ranging from 3.00 to 3.50.
As an alternative to the student scholarship initiative, the guaranteed graduation initiative was a programmatic strategy to ensure more students graduate within four years. Wofford considered putting measures in place that would effectively “guarantee”
a four-year graduation rate if students met certain criteria.
The impact to the contributions to operating reserves was minimal, as the initiative was less monetary and more procedural. When presenting this initiative to the president and his cabinet, the finance team described it as an easy win for the college;
requiring relatively minimal changes but improving the student experience.
Increase Foreign Study
Wofford, among other higher education institutions, understands that student interest in study abroad programs is growing. Current data shows that “approximately 1 in 10 U.S. students study abroad during their undergraduate career.”
To differentiate itself from its competitors, Wofford wanted to make it more financially attractive to participate in study abroad programs. This initiative had two major implications for the college’s contributions to its operating reserves.
Through Synario, Wofford projected the drop in overall enrollment as well as the financial impact of increased financial aid for student’s studying abroad. The aid and enrollment assumptions, as well as the overall growth in study abroad participation,
were analyzed at various levels to determine the viability of the initiative.
Wofford’s foreign study initiative uses a 10% growth rate assumption for study abroad participation. In this model, Wofford did not raise enrollment to make up for the increasing number of students not enrolling due to study abroad.
Interim Subsidy & HIP Stipend
Wofford’s finance team modeled two more unique financial incentives for students. The first was offering select students a $3,500 subsidy in order to incentivize greater participation in internships and travel experiences. The subsidy would only be available during the month of January and could only be utilized by students who met specific academic and aid qualifications.
The HIP stipend, on the other hand, would be a smaller monetary amount available for students to use for a variety of different “high impact” areas. The finance team determined that Wofford could afford to offer $2,000 to a larger group of students if a new higher revenue tuition model was put in place.
The predetermined criteria that the HIP stipend could be used toward included study abroad, research opportunities, conferences and presentations, and civic engagement, among others.
The goal of modeling these projects and initiatives was not to analyze them individually, but to determine which combinations could grant Wofford a competitive edge while maintaining or improving the college’s contributions to its operating reserves.