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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


    • 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.


    • Dealing with Debt (a section of Inside Higher Ed articles and essays) sponsored by Inceptia
      Student loans are essential for millions of American students. The reality is that many colleges charge more than students can afford, even taking into account federal, state and institutional grants. But many experts (not to mention borrowers) see many flaws in the system. They worry that too many students are borrowing more than is wise, that many students don’t understand their obligations, are ignorant of the differences between federal and private loans, and that default rates remain too high at some institutions. The articles and essays from Inside Higher Ed offering a range of ideas and perspectives. View research brief.


    • The New Traditional: Addressing Financial Literacy and Delivery Needs for Adult Learners

      Non-traditional students, those students often older than 24, typically employed full time, and commonly providing financial support to dependents, now comprise up to 70 percent of the post-secondary population. They present the dichotomy of a learner that brings advanced experience to the classroom, yet may not have mastered foundational skills that are integral to the college learning experience. Not the least of these skills is the ability to achieve fiscal wellness, the cornerstone of any sound financial literacy program.


      In an effort to recognize the changed face of the “typical” college student, this research brief addresses the need for financial literacy targeted toward adult learners, as determined by surveying students about perceived financial capability, access to financial education, applied financial behaviors, and financial aid borrowing habits. It also offers a framework for incorporating adult learning theory to better engage non-traditional students. View research brief.


    • The Future of Student Loans (a selection of Inside Higher Ed articles and essays) sponsored by Inceptia
      The growth in student borrowing has become a top issue for colleges, policy makers and — perhaps most crucially — for those borrowing more and more money to afford a higher education, as cuts in state appropriations have forced students and families to pick up a bigger share of students’ educational costs. The articles and essays from Inside Higher Ed explore some of the top issues facing all of the players in the debate. View research brief.


    • It Takes a Campus to Prevent a Default: Gathering Internal Support to Promote Financial Education (Editorial)
      Although important to all, the execution of a financial education program almost always falls squarely on the shoulders of the financial aid department. For an all hands on deck approach, such a massive and critical undertaking is daunting, but is simply system overload for one department to manage alone. This editorial includes reasons and data as to why financial education is everyone’s job, and how to gain buy-in for campus-wide collaborative efforts. View research brief.


    • Stressed Out in the Financial Aid Office: Why It’s Time to Ease Your Pain
      Students aren’t the only ones feeling stressed on campus these days — so are those who work in the financial aid office. And the pressures these professionals face daily aren’t going anywhere. This paper takes a study that Inceptia conducted on the stress in the Financial Aid Office. Inceptia’s survey results point to several areas where outsourcing can have a positive effect on financial aid staff, the institution, and, in turn, the students they serve. View research brief.


    • A Guide to Lowering Your Cohort Default Rate through Challenges, Adjustments and Appeals
      This paper discusses the role of challenges, adjustments and appeals in lowering your school’s cohort default rate (CDR). We’ll review the 10 types of actions your school can take in response to CDRs, considerations for taking an action (or not), and how to stay ahead of the need for taking an action. You’ll also find out ways Inceptia can help your school in the challenge and appeal process. View research brief.


    • Students Speak: The Detrimental Impact of Financial Stress on Student Success
      Research on financial stress has shown that it can be detrimental to college student academic progress and success, even leading some students facing extreme financial stress to drop out. However, students’ unique experiences often cannot be captured by relying solely on quantitative data. Here is a look at the qualitative data – students’ open-ended responses – gathered as part of a 2012 financial stress survey conducted by Inceptia. View research brief.


    • The Intersection of Student Financial Literacy and Career Readiness
      In the fall of 2012, the Inceptia National Financial Aptitude Analysis was administered to students at five institutions across the country. The purpose of the following Research Brief is to focus on the knowledge levels, attitudes, and financial confidence of community college students. Four hundred forty-four (444) students from community colleges completed the survey. Based on the data, this brief identifies student financial literacy as a barrier to degree progress and credential attainment, and provides suggestions for improving this metric. View research brief.


    • College Students are Put to the Test: The Attitudes, Behaviors and Knowledge Levels of Financial Education
      Nearly one thousand first year students representing five institutions of higher education across the country completed the Inceptia National Financial Aptitude Analysis during the fall of 2012. The 85-item survey explored student financial knowledge levels, their attitudes and confidence related to money management and their current financial behaviors. As more and more institutions look to provide financial literacy programming to students amidst a landscape of increasing tuition and student loan borrowing rates, the survey results support the need for directing scarce resources towards these endeavors. View research brief.


    • Financial Stress: An Everyday Reality for College Students
      Recent studies have shown students, both those enrolled and ones who have recently graduated, are under high levels of stress. A number of factors contribute to student stress, but very prominent are those related to student finances. In a national survey of college students and recent college graduates, Inceptia explored the impact of financial stress on students. The information found in Inceptia’s survey is critical for financial aid and business offices to use in the development and implementation of their financial education programs. View research brief.


    • Leveraging Our Greatest Resources: Students
      Financial Education is a growing and necessary trend on America’s college campuses. Schools are turning to peer educators to increase the financial literacy of their students. It’s been found that peer educator programs provide a cost-effective way to disseminate sound money management information to college students during a time when their financial success depends on it. Make use of the information and resources discussed in this white paper to develop or enhance a peer education program on your campus. View research brief.


    • Snapshot of Financial Education Programming: How Schools Approach Student Success
      In a national survey of nearly 200 higher education institutions, Inceptia found the majority of colleges and universities are placing more emphasis on financial education for students. The survey also revealed that schools are lacking much-needed funding and resources to adequately prepare students for future financial challenges, including the management and repayment of student loan debt. While schools are doing the best they can, more financial education in multiple forms is needed to reverse the skyrocketing rise of student loan debt. View research brief.


    • Minimizing Your School’s Risk of Exposure: Understanding Your Three-Year Cohort Rate
      In this white paper, schools will be able to effectively understand their three-year student loan cohort default rates by: Understanding the default rate calculation; Anticipating default rate implications for institutions; Assembling the right team of stakeholders to address default rates; Examining and understanding borrower characteristics; Creating and implementing the best plan of action for lowering loan default rates. The recommendations outlined in the white paper will help schools develop plans that help student loan borrowers succeed in repaying their loans. View research brief.


    • Financial Capability Now: Why College Students Can’t Wait
      Much has been written in the news recently not only about the need for financial education, but also for strategies for implementing a financial education program on colleges and universities. To help schools create a solid plan for teaching students about their finances, Inceptia has released an action plan for developing a campus financial education program. This white paper provides a framework for student financial success. The data supports the mounting body of evidence that proves financial education is critical for students in higher education. View research brief.