Bring that NPC out of hiding: Tips for schools that are proud to show their prices

Amy Jenkins
October 4, 2023

If you are a VP of Enrollment Management, Director of Financial Aid or Director of Admissions you know how hard it is to attract students…and it hasn’t been getting easier.  But what you may not know is that you already have a tool that can help…your net price calculator doesn’t have to just check the box on compliance; it can help you boost enrollment.

We see that skeptical look on your face….how exactly will it help? When students see the real price they are more likely to enroll. The NPC's primary role is to provide prospective students with an accurate estimate of their net cost of attending your institution. This cost is often significantly lower than the sticker price, which can be a major factor in a student's decision-making process. By prominently displaying the real price, you're more likely to entice students to enroll.

For this to work, accuracy is key. A good NPC must be accurate for every student. It should take into account various factors, including family income, academic achievements, and financial aid options. Make sure your NPC is updated regularly to ensure precision and reliability. Work with a company (hint, we know one!)  that can adjust your NPC when you need it  – as your packaging changes, as new scholarships become available, or when things like the change from EFC to SAI come along and change everything! When students see that the tool is trustworthy, they'll be more inclined to use it.

We know that many universities have hidden this valuable resource deep within their websites (no judgment zone - we get it and know that some should maybe be hidden!)  but a well-implemented NPC can be a game-changer – as long as students find it and use it! 

So what do you do if you have a great one (maybe even one from Meadow!) and you want to make sure students use it?  Check out these tips on how to promote your NPC effectively and make it an integral part of your student recruitment strategy.

Use Student-Friendly Language: Most students aren't familiar with the term "Net Price Calculator." Instead, use words and terms they will know  on your website. Phrases like "Estimate Your Cost" or "Find Out What You Will Pay to Attend" or, in the case of Nevada State University “Calculate your Tuition”  resonate better with your target audience. By using relatable terminology, you'll increase the likelihood of students (and parents)  clicking on the NPC.

Create a Landing Page: Consider following the example set by Glendale Community College in California. They created a dedicated landing page for their NPC, making it easily accessible and user-friendly. This reduces the friction for students trying to access the tool, ultimately driving more usage.

Craft an Engaging Email Campaign: Email marketing can be a powerful way to encourage prospective students to use the NPC. Take inspiration from Northern Arizona University, which used an animated gif in their email campaign. The result? 4,500 students received cost estimates within 48 hours. Craft compelling emails that highlight the benefits of using the NPC and guide students through the process.

Train Your Staff: Ensure that your financial aid counselors are well-versed in using the NPC and sending out the link to students. At IIT coaches are using the NPC with potential athletes.  Coaches and counselors are on the front lines of student interaction and can help demystify the financial aid process for potential enrollees. A good NPC is a great tool to keep in their back pocket (er, on their phones!)

Utilize QR Codes: Incorporate QR codes linked to your NPC in your college fair presentations and high school visits (we loved hearing how St Francis did this last Spring). Add them to admissions folders when students visit your campus. This makes it incredibly easy for students and their families to access the NPC on the spot, increasing the likelihood of engagement.

A good NPC can make a big difference.  So if you have one, make sure students and families can find it.  Worried yours isn’t good enough?  Chat with us, we’ve got some ideas for you…

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