Bob Johnson's Blog on Higher Education Marketing

Augustana College & the Net Price Calculator...

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Net Price Calculator vs. Merit Scholarship Estimator

Augustana College has a strong website in many areas, including the entry page for Admissions. I used that page as a Link of the Week selection to illustrate a "top task" approach to page design that makes it more likely that potential students can more quickly do what they most want to do on a website.

From the Admissions entry page it is easy to find an often-hidden link on higher education websites: the path to the "Net Price Calculator and Scholarship Estimator" is included under "Costs." Kudos for making the NPC as visible as it is. 

Interesting Effort to Capture Personal Information

Schools are not allowed to require personal information from people using the NPC but there's no rule against that on a Merit Scholarship Calculator presented together with the NPC.

Augustana presents the Merit Scholarship Calculator first on the page as a "tool for students and families to estimate academic scholarships." Who can resist clicking on that link? When you click you'll arrive at a form that looks more like an inquiry form than a "tool" to get a scholarship estimate. We can, of course, differ on definitions.

What we can presume from the scholarship form is that Augustana has a more complex system for awarding merit scholarships than simply ACT or SAT score and high school GPA. From the list below a reasonable person might conclude that ethnicity and gender are merit scholarship factors. 

Merit Scholarship Factors?

The form asks for:
  • Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Academic/Career Interests
  • Current high school or college
  • City and state of high school 
  • Senior year curriculum in high school
  • Special interests in debate, art, theater, and music
  • And more.
A Guide to Priority Recruitment Attention?

There's no instant return here. Complete the form and "it will be reviewed by admissions staff who will then contact you to discuss your scholarship estimate." It seems an excellent way to decide which students deserve priority recruitment attention. And there's nothing wrong with that.

Quick Merit Scholarship Estimate from NPC: $17,000

If you read more you'll also learn that the NPC does include an estimate of a merit scholarship award based only on test scores, class rank, and GPA. 

For instance, an out-of-state student in the top 10% of his or her class with an ACT composite of 28 and a GPA of 3.87 who says they will visit the Augustana campus by March of the senior year might receive a Presidential Scholarship of $17,000 and a travel award of $1,000. A small award of $500 is also possible for early FAFSA filers.

Nothing Wrong at Augustana but Muhlenberg College is More Transparent

Personally in today's marketing climate I prefer the greater transparency at another Link of the Week selection from Muhlenberg College. "The Real Deal on Financial Aid" page gets right to reality: the more the school wants you to enroll, the better combination of scholarships and loans you'll get in your financial aid package.

That's all for now.
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