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Research Briefs

Our research briefs will ensure that you’re aware of the latest trends regarding students, financial education and default prevention, among other important higher education topics. Click on a title below to learn more.

Research Briefs


    • Adapting to Gen Z: A Higher Education Guide
      The Millennials changed everything. Being the first group of “digital natives,” these students ushered in the
      era of online forms, email advising, and student portals. As with previous generations, they forced colleges and universities to adapt, but to a greater degree and with more sweeping change than their predecessors.
      Now that Gen Z has taken over as the new “traditional” college student, institutions may see them as little more than “Millennials on steroids.” However, this view would do injustice to a generation that, while also adept users of technology, diverge from Millennials in a number of areas that present both opportunities and challenges to higher education professionals.
      This research brief aims to help schools better understand the unique needs of Generation Z. View research brief.


    • The Financial Aid Office in Transition: Adapting to Meet the Needs of Millennials and Gen Z
      Perhaps more than any generation before them, the Millennial and Gen Z generations are forcing higher education institutions to adapt to their needs and preferences. As “digital natives,” these students are demanding that schools employ technology and online solutions to address what have traditionally been paper-driven processes.
      And with an overwhelming majority of Millennials reporting the financial aid process is confusing (74 percent) and stressful (76 percent), the financial aid office, perhaps more than any other campus department, stands to reap the greatest benefits as a result of meeting these technological demands.
      This research brief aims to help schools develop strategies to better align student financial aid expectations with institutional outcomes.View research brief.


    • Loan Summaries: Nudging Students Toward Smart Borrowing

      As students increasingly rely on student loans to finance part or all of their college education, the need for relevant, timely information to help make informed borrowing choices has become more critical than ever. Students themselves are indicating a need for such initiatives; 48% of surveyed borrowers reported either not knowing or incorrectly estimating the amount they have borrowed.
      The ramifications for borrower confusion can be significant. When students do not invest in or avail themselves of existing loan counseling resources, those students, as well as schools and society at large, suffer from the effects of over borrowing, lower degree attainment, increased attrition, and student loan default.


      A number of schools and states, however, have used a simple yet innovative approach to help students actively manage loan debt as they progress toward degree completion. These institutions use loan summaries, sometimes called “debt letters,” to keep students apprised of their borrowing levels and allow them to make informed choices about future repayment scenarios. This brief explores the mounting research that has emerged to support the effectiveness of this strategy and examines institutional case studies that illustrate implementation techniques and the positive implications loan summaries have on not only borrowing behavior, but also academic outcomes. View research brief.


    • Financial Aid Management Practices: The Benefits of Outsourcing Verification

      It may be an understatement to say today’s financial aid professionals are a little stressed. With staffing constraints and increased regulatory requirements, as well as serving students who expect modern, streamlined, user-friendly experiences, institutions are more challenged than ever to get everything done. It’s clear that schools need help. And outsourcing is a viable option. This brief looks at the pain points financial aid professionals are feeling today, according to the latest NASFAA data, and addresses how outsourcing can help schools provide more personalized service to students and their families while reducing the need for time-intensive technical support and regulatory compliance updates.


      The brief specifically addresses the benefits of outsourcing verification and the impact of helping institutions refocus their resources. Data provided will assist those evaluating their verification strategy and provide guidance and support for schools considering a third-party servicer. View research brief.


    • The ROI of Financial Education
      Financial education programming, while gaining in popularity among colleges and universities, still faces an uphill battle in proving its value to decision-makers and educators. At a time when outcomes are king, the very nature of financial education dictates that its results are often not immediately seen. This can make it difficult to know which strategies are effective or will gain schools the greatest return on their efforts. This brief examines the effects of financial education on student satisfaction and financial stress levels, retention and cohort default rates and lifelong financial behaviors. A simplified review of the numbers will provide a basis for calculating the return on investment for financial education programs. View research brief.