Conquering Debt-Fear among Your Prospective Students

With all the media buzz about college debt these days, it’s no surprise that many students back off college plans for fear of the cost, especially with private schools. According to the 2015 Inside Higher Ed Survey of College and University Admissions Directors, 76% report they are losing potential applicants because of their concerns about debt levels. And the worries aren’t just hype—among student borrowers, the average balance is nearing $30,000.

How can college recruiters help to assuage concerns and also guide students to make responsible choices?

Communicating the Value of Education

First, prospective students need to understand the long-term financial value of education. A college graduate, on average, earns 68% more than a high-school graduate. Over a working lifetime, that amounts to around $1 million—an impressive payoff for $30,000 of debt. And the unemployment rate for college graduates is about half that of high school graduates.

Further, college graduates benefit from a burgeoning need for highly skilled workers. A comprehensive study by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce projects a deficit of 3 million necessary new college degrees by 2018. This case of supply and demand will position college graduates for optimal opportunities in the job market.

Do your recruiting materials emphasize the financial benefits of a college degree? By creating awareness, colleges can help applicants, and their parents, to become more comfortable with a reasonable amount of debt.

Presenting Creative Alternatives

For many students, however, even a reasonable amount of debt won’t answer all their concerns about college funding.

College admissions professionals can help individual students to discover possibilities they may otherwise miss, like government or private grants. You can also help students explore out-of-the box possibilities, like taking a gap year or working full-time while engaging in a college program designed for schedule flexibility.

While many recruiters are glad to provide this kind of coaching, prospective students may not be aware of the depth of personal attention available to them.

Is your office presenting an open-door policy for students and parents?  By highlighting your approachability, you create opportunities to help students overcome barriers.

An effective communication plan can break through the debt-fear factor. 5 Degrees is here to help you assess your plan and take action.

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