THE ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT REVIEW
Volume 24, Issue 2 Winter 2009
Editor: Don Hossler Associate Editor: Chad Christensen
Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research and Planning
This issue of the Enrollment Management Review concentrates primarily on publications
that focus on marketing and admissions recruitment. In addition, recent works in the area
of institutional financing and financial aid are reviewed relative to their implications for
the practice of enrollment management.
Anctil, E. J. (2008). Selling Higher Education: Marketing and Advertising America’s
Colleges and Universities. ASHE Higher Education Report, Volume 34, No.
2. San Francisco: Jossey Bass, Inc.
One of the holes in the literature that informs enrollment management practices has been
a good synthesis of research and concepts associated with admissions marketing and
recruitment. This ASHE monograph on marketing in higher education helps to fill this
void. The author begins with a discussion of the potential tensions between being market
driven and mission driven. Anctil correctly notes that one of the problems in marketing
colleges and universities is that students are both the customer and the product. Thus,
marketing is different for postsecondary institutions than many business firms.
Nevertheless, he observes that, as institutions of higher education have become more
business oriented and have started to engage in more intense competition for students, it
is no longer possible to draw distinctions between being market driven and mission
driven. Anctil cites the works of Bob Zemsky and his colleagues and their assertion that
successful colleges and universities have learned to be more market sensitive and market
The second chapter in this monograph provides an overview of research on college
choice and offers linkages between the college choice literature and marketing. In this
section Anctil devotes time to reviewing theories of how students process information
and provides a solid foundation for understanding how to best communicate with them.
He demonstrates that knowledge of information processing, when linked with the
understanding of how students choose colleges, can lead to more effective marketing and
advertising. Following this chapter the author also briefly reviews the competitive
landscape and how the impact of competition from the proprietary sector is influencing
competition and marketing among traditional two- and four-year colleges and
In the next two chapters the author focuses on branding, marketing higher education as an
intangible product, and on market differentiation. The chapter on market differentiation
is especially strong and offers many good insights into the role of perceived academic
quality and the impact of athletics in shaping an institution’s image. Our only reservation
with this discussion is that Anctil is not sufficiently critical of the research in these two
areas. Some studies, for example, have suggested that no matter the kind of institution or
academic program and how selective they are, most prospective students report they are
choosing an institution or a program because of its academic quality. In the area of
athletics, again several studies have raised questions about the extent of the positive
relationships between winning athletic programs and increasing levels of undergraduate
Especially useful in this volume is an overview of the various tools and products that
colleges and universities can use to communicate with prospective students. Anctil
provides a useful service to the profession by providing a solid and straightforward
description of print, web-based, and digital recruitment materials. Though enrollment
professionals debate the merits of these communication strategies and tactics for training
and staff development purposes, it is often difficult for novices in admissions to find a
good overview of these various marketing tools. The monograph closes with brief
discussions of the concepts of relationship marketing and the importance of internal
marketing to successful admissions marketing.
In sum, this is a readable, practical, and useful overview of marketing and advertising in
higher education. It will be a helpful resource book for many enrollment management
organizations. It is an especially good primer for early career professionals.
Bontrager, R.; Brown, G.; & Hossler, D. (2008). SEM and Institutional Success:
Integrating Enrollment, Finance, and Student Access. Washington, D.C.:
American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.
This monograph examines the intersection of strategic enrollment management (SEM),
generating institutional revenue, and enhancing student access. Although the first and
last chapters consider the demographic and public policy context for enrollment
management efforts and the leadership role for enrollment managers, it is chapters 2-4
that are the real strengths of this volume. Most treatments of enrollment management
strategies and practices fail to provide an in-depth analysis of the extent to which
enrollment planning and financial planning are tightly interconnected; an important
element of enrollment management. Indeed the goals of enhancing revenue and
enhancing access, diversity, and quality are often to some extent in conflict. The middle
section of this work considers in detail how to link budgetary planning with these various
aspects of enrollment planning. To be effective with senior budget administrators,
enrollment managers need to understand fund accounting and the relationships between
the costs associated with enrollment management, instruction, and research.
Chapter Four is the strongest chapter in this monograph. Brown provides a series of
spreadsheet examples that delineate the income and expenditures associated with tuition
revenue, financial aid, and other cost centers in universities. He, also, demonstrates how
to use fiscal analysis to project four-year forecasts of income and expenditures, as well as
discusses how to engage in a financial planning process for academic and student affairs,
enrollment management, and physical plant capacity.
With its focus on campus budgeting and enrollment management this volume fills an
important void in the field of enrollment management. The only thing that might have
strengthened the work would have been to provide more examples of the complexities
and tensions that can be inherent institutional efforts to optimize revenue, quality,
diversity, and access. This volume is a helpful addition to the literature on enrollment
The Report from the Rethinking Student Aid Group. (2008, September). Fulfilling
the Commitment: Recommendations for Reforming Federal Student Aid and
The Effectiveness of Student Aid Policies: What Research Tells Us. New York:
The College Board (http://professionals.collegeboard.com/policy-
Financial aid has become a central part of enrollment management strategies and,
increasingly, federal, state, and institutional financial aid policies are coming under
scrutiny -- critiques of financial aid policy can be found in the 2006 Spellings
Commission Report: A Test of Leadership: Charting the Future of Higher Education.
(www.ed.gov/about/bdscomm/list/hiedfuture/reports/pre-pub-report.pdf). This recent
report published by the College Board and funded by The Lumina Foundation for
Education, the Spencer Foundation, and the College Board provides the most
comprehensive critique and set of recommendations to reform federal financial aid that
has been offered in recent decades. Most reports on federal financial aid have suffered
from offering timid recommendations about increasing the Pell Grant without providing
realistic suggestions as to how to pay for it, or simply increasing student loan limits. The
Rethinking Student Aid Group, however, presents a comprehensive set of
recommendations for reforming undergraduate financial aid. While almost all of the
individual recommendations included in this report have been offered before, no single
report has brought them together to offer a comprehensive blue print for changing federal
financial aid and paying for it. It goes beyond the scope of this newsletter to discuss the
recommendations found in this report in detail; however, some of the highlights of the
report are the following recommendations:
1. Discontinue use of the FAFSA and expected family contribution (EFC) to
calculate financial aid eligibility. Instead this committee recommends using
IRS data and adjusted gross income to calculate financial need.
2. The committee recommends eliminating subsidies for student loans (and thus
calculating need would no longer be used to determine loan eligibility). The
Rethinking Aid Group also proposes using the savings from cutting loan
interest subsidies to fund significant increases in Pell Grants.
3. The group recommends using IRS tax data to estimated aid eligibility for
families with young children and then as a form of early information, to notify
low-income parents of their likely eligibility for Pell Grants and the
availability of loans.
4. This report proposes expanding income contingent loans.
5. In addition, the committee recommends providing grants to institutions that
enroll and graduate large numbers of Pell Grant recipients as a way to
encourage colleges to make greater efforts to expand access and success for
low and moderate income students.
It is important to note that the Rethinking Student Aid Group has developed a set of
recommendations that would be budget neutral for the federal government, thus
increasing the odds that in a year of significant political change these recommendations
may get serious consideration.
Some of the effects could be far reaching. For example, doing away with the FAFSA and
subsidies for loans (and thus the verification that goes with current subsidized loans)
would dramatically affect the responsibilities of financial aid offices. Expanding income
contingent loans would have an unpredictable effect on state and institutional financial
In addition to the report of the committee, several good research papers looking at
various aspects of financial aid were also undertaken on behalf of the Rethinking Student
Aid Group. A compendium of these reports is available at:
enrollment managers with a scholarly interest in financial aid this set of reports provide a
good summary of the state of what is known about most elements of it.
What will happen with the recommendations from this report is unknown. However,
some of the most highly regarded researchers in the nation were involved in this
nonpartisan effort and two leading researchers and respected voices in the student
financial aid community chaired this study group: Sandy Baum and Michael McPherson,
Therefore, it is likely that many of these proposals will receive serious consideration.
Enrollment management organizations that pride themselves on trying to anticipate future
directions of their work will want to read the recommendations and research paper and
devote some staff development and planning time considering these reports.
Zhang, L. (2007). Nonresident Enrollment Demand in Public Higher Education: An
Analysis at National, State, and Institutional Levels. The Review of Higher
Education, 31(1), 1 – 25.
In this article Zhang discusses the important topic of nonresident tuition pricing and its
effects on enrollments. At most public institutions, nonresident enrollment is a salient
topic of discussion for a myriad of reasons. Nonresident enrollments may help
institutions diversify the population of incoming students, as well as act to enhance the
revenue stream, as tuition for nonresidents is generally much higher than for residents.
This article provides insight into why students may attend a college as a nonresident and
discusses whether increasing nonresident tuition affects nonresident enrollments.
Zhang begins by discussing economic theories of nonresident tuition. As he notes, with
standard demand theory it can be posited that as the price of nonresident tuition increases
as the number of nonresident applicants decreases. In an era when colleges and
universities increase tuition annually for both residents and nonresidents this is an
important consideration. However, for one school explored in this article the opposite
outcome occurred. Upon increasing their nonresident tuition the demand for the
institution also went up. Zhang suggests a number of reasons why this may occur, such
as increased financial aid to nonresident applicants, an increase in rankings that year, or
that students and families may see a more costly institution as an indicator of higher
quality. For many enrollment professionals this section, which reviews economic theory,
generally, and how it pertains to institutions of higher education, specifically, offers
sound insights into economic theories, which can be beneficial in understanding supply
and demand as it relates to higher education.
Zhang is quick to point out that the results of a single institution case study cannot be
generalized and so sets off to research nonresident enrollments at the national, state and
institutional levels by using data collected from IPEDS surveys. Using data from 1986 to
2004, Zhang shows that on average, after accounting for inflation; public four-year
institutions have increased tuition 4.25% annually. Of these public institutions, research
and doctoral universities average more nonresident students than any other college type.
The effects of nonresident tuition increases vary considerably across national, state and
institutional levels, however. Zhang posits that in general lowering nonresident tuition
rates or offering nonresident tuition discounts are not effective in increasing revenue from
tuition. In fact, for prestigious or highly sought after institutions a raise in nonresident
tuition may actually increase the perceived quality of the institution and as such increase
both tuition and number of nonresident students enrolled. Though this may seem
counterintuitive it is an important factor to consider when working on enrollment
strategies and the way colleges and universities are marketed. For enrollment
professionals who wish to explore the topic of tuition and economic theories such as price
elasticity as it relates to higher education this article provides a good overview of these
Helgesen, O. (2008). Marketing for Higher Education: A Relationship Marketing
Approach. Journal of Marketing for Higher Education, 18(1), 50 – 78.
As mentioned in the first article of this issue of the Enrollment Management Review
customer relationship marketing (CRM) is playing an increasing role in marketing
institutions to students. In this article Oyvind Helgesen elaborates on how relationship
marketing can be used in higher education. As such, this article provides salient insight
into marketing research and offers ways in which marketing theory can be applied to
Using marketing concepts, Helgesen defines the student as being akin to a customer. The
author uses this approach for marketing purposes only and in this way positions the
student as a lifelong customer. Put another way, student loyalty can turn into a lifetime
relationship with the institution. The author notes that a student’s loyalty to an institution
is driven by student satisfaction and the institution’s reputation. As such, Helgesen
surveyed students at his institution to determine what attributes are most germane and
related to student satisfaction and whether or not student satisfaction is positively related
to student loyalty.
Through a literature review, the author delves into theory on relationship marketing and
applies these theories to higher education. This section alone will be of great use for any
enrollment professional looking to better understand relationship marketing and how it
can be used in higher education. Of particular interest is a list of six relationship
marketing dimensions and how these dimensions can be utilized at a college or
The results of the survey suggest that student loyalty is positively related to both student
satisfaction and student perception of the quality of the institution. As the author notes, it
is student satisfaction that most drives student loyalty, even over reputation of the
college. At this college in particular student satisfaction was defined as satisfaction with
quality of lectures, as well as satisfaction with service attitudes of staff. Helgesen posits
that marketers need to know what students value most so they can craft messages
specifically targeted for this purpose. Furthermore, staff must be aware of what delivers
the greatest value to students to ensure that quality and reputation are preserved or
In closing, however, we want to move beyond this study and the focus on satisfaction to
raise an additional point. While satisfaction with quality may influence institutional
loyalty, there is little empirical evidence that satisfaction affects student persistence
which would seem to be natural extension of this line of inquiry. This is an area that
merits more investigation.
Wolniak, G. L., & Engberg, M. E. (2007). The Effects of High School Feeder
Networks on College Enrollments. The Review of Higher Education, (30)1, 27
Authors Wolniak and Engberg describe the effects that high school feeder networks have
on college enrollments. For many undergraduate admissions professionals, this topic will
be of great interest. Creating and sustaining feeder high schools are important in almost
any undergraduate admissions office. Feeder schools represent a sound relationship
between a high school and a college or university. The cultivation of these relationships
is important and may increase access for some high school students, as well as help to
maintain steady enrollments for the college or university.
In this research article, the authors seek to understand why students from feeder high
schools are most likely to attend a specific college or university, and whether feeder high
schools work to increase or limit access to higher education. Before discussing the
results of this study it is important to note that all schools sampled were private
institutions which, as the authors state, may limit the generalization of the results.
Nonetheless, this study offers interesting insights into feeder high schools and sheds light
on which students are most likely to use a feeder legacy and attend a college in which a
sound relationship has been built. One finding of this study suggests that access to high
school legacies may be influenced, in part, by the financial well being of students and
their communities. Furthermore, it is Caucasian students who are most likely to enter
college from high schools with more established feeder legacies. Finally, high schools
that are located in wealthier communities and have a high overall quality are the ones that
are more likely to have sound high school feeder relationships. Yet, this also means that
underrepresented and disadvantaged students are less likely to have this kind of access.
On the other end of the spectrum, high-performing students who may attend a feeder high
school are less likely to matriculate into a specific college as more options of choice are
available to them.
The findings also noted that the greater the historical connection between a high school
and a college, the more likely students from that high school were to matriculate. For
enrollment professionals this helps to solidify the notion that beginning and cultivating
relationships at high schools have an important effect on future enrollments. This
suggests that beginning relationships at new high schools can lead to the development of
further feeder schools. The findings indicate that enrollment professionals should not
only be searching for students to recruit, but also looking for high schools where there
may be large number of students that could be cultivated to become feeder schools.
Colleges and universities should consider comprehensive strategies to develop feeder
high schools as they try to expand their student recruitment efforts. Enrollment managers
pursuing these strategies, however, also need to be patient, because it takes time for high
schools to develop into feeder schools.