Magazines and Special Reports

The 2022 Independent School Cost-Per-Enrollment Study (Report Preview)

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2 Copyright 2022 The Enrollment Management Association, Inc., National Association of Independent Schools, and National Business Officers Association. All rights reserved. Dear Colleagues, On behalf of all of us at EMA and our collaborators at NAIS and NBOA, I am delighted to share our report describing the costs and return on investment of independent school enrollment management. The impetus for this report was a meeting of EMA's Admission Leadership Council (ALC). I want to thank all the ALC volunteers, and especially Eric Barber, the new head at Walnut Hill School (MA), for highlighting the importance of collecting and sharing this data. So, how much "investment" does it take to raise a dollar of tuition? What is the value of an enrollment inquiry? Are there variances among types of schools in terms of what should be invested in order to enroll a class of new students? This report will answer those questions and more. As I read this report, a few things stood out. One was how hard it was for schools to collect data for this report. Many of you shared that it was difficult to find the requested information or disaggregate certain costs. For example, marketing costs for admission were lumped together with development or general communications. This tells us that schools may not be aligning their budget and reporting processes with their chief revenue source in a way that lets them make smarter decisions. Another concern is the lack of resources in independent school enrollment offices. It's clear that some schools operate in survival mode regarding admission and enrollment with too few staff to meet their goals and not enough internal control or budget to focus on anything other than new student admissions. This admission approach must change. Having an enrollment management mindset delivers better results for schools. We hope this report will help you create a data-informed strategy to drive enrollment and allow your senior leadership team to make the right investments to achieve your school's tuition goals. Also, and perhaps even more importantly, this report should be shared with your entire school to facilitate a broader dialogue around the work of enrollment management. The purpose of our working with NAIS and NBOA on this project was to ensure that all three associations and their key stakeholders (heads, business leaders, admission and enrollment leaders, and others) have the same data sets for deeper conversations around enrollment success. On a positive note, it was affirming to learn that the median return on investment in the enrollment office is 7:1 for the first year of tuition alone. That number is even more impressive considering most families stay in our schools for longer than one year. For most independent schools, enrollment and tuition dollars are the primary revenue channel allowing the school to operate and deliver against its mission. In closing, I give special thanks to NAIS President Donna Orem and her research team and NBOA President and CEO Jeff Shields and his team for their willingness to undertake this industry-wide study. While collaboration across the industry on any project always takes more time, we found this project gratifying and exciting. We look forward to other shared projects and to being your partner in building professional connections inside of your own school with your business leader and school head. Sincerely, Heather Hoerle Executive Director and CEO, Enrollment Management Association

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