UC20 Ignite: How to Create a Sustainable Tuition and Financial Aid Model?

July 9, 2020 Daren Worcester

The Ignite-style sessions at UC20, created with guidance from Blackbaud K–12’s Advisory Board, delivered fast-paced presentations designed to inspire and spark discussion. Financial sustainability was a concern for schools before COVID-19, so it’s certainly not a problem that can be solved in five-minute sessions. That said, our panel of school leaders and industry experts delivered actionable advice in this session to help schools reconsider their options and lay the groundwork for sustainability.

Michael Hoyle, senior vice president administration finance and strategic planning at Boston College High School, began the session by focusing on financial modeling and transparency. Hoyle outlined a three-step process to transparency by holding a community-wide meeting to review the current budget and financial health of the school, involving the school community in the budgeting process, and creating a budget advisory committee with rotating members. 

“It’s important to do this because you end up developing champions in the community,” Hoyle said. “When they understand what makes up the budget, you build a lot of trust and a lot of community in the school.”

Ryan Kinney, associate director of finance at St. Albans School in Washington, D.C., dug deeper into the best practices of financial modeling. “Financial modeling really gives you the ability to have an understanding and quantify various scenarios,” he said after outlining an effective approach to financial modeling for private schools. You can download a template for Kinney’s financial model here

Peter Baron, chief member relations officer at The Enrollment Management Association, addressed the topic by encouraging schools to reimagine enrollment. “There’s no question that we live in unsettling times—a global pandemic, financial uncertainty, clear racial injustice,” Baron said. “And what it does is that it begs the question around how do we respond to ensure financial sustainability as we move into our new academic year?” 

Baron started with advice on building nimble practices and systems, spoke to finding new ways to get to know prospective families, and ended by rethinking pricing and reconsidering the traditional financial aid and tuition model. 

“These are three areas that we encourage schools to explore. Now, we’re not going to be able to give you all of the answers in five minutes, but hopefully, we’ve given you some questions and a framework to work from.” 

If you missed the session, you can view the on-demand recording here. Didn’t register for the conference? No problem! You can still register for UC20 here to access the on-demand recording. 

You may also be interested in our other Ignite session recaps:

About the Author

Daren Worcester

Daren Worcester has been a member of the Blackbaud K-12 team for 17 years, assisting hundreds of independent schools through a variety of website development roles. A former copywriter and a published author with an appetite for SEO, Daren currently serves as the senior content marketing manager for K-12.

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