Chapter 3: Share your findings
“Action is the foundational key to success.” P. Picasso
One of the most exciting parts of this chapter in your school’s financial aid story is that you’ve explored, collected, and connected your financial aid numbers. Now you get to move on to sharing your story with your key stakeholders internally and externally.
How you tell the story and relate the details is just as important. Before you share your findings with others take time to pinpoint the stories you want to tell. You’ll want to explore the financial aid data you’ve compiled and pull out the highlights, notable trends, and how funds were used for reporting to your different constituencies.
The benefit of organizing your numbers (like you did in Chapter 2) is that typically at schools you want to be able to tell the right story at the right time for the right audience. For instance, what story will you relate to your head of school or when you report to your board of trustees?
What are the most compelling pieces of your data story to tell your successes for outside reporting to national and regional organizations and grantors? The numbers and results of those will help, especially for grant funders to underscore your success. It’s important in reporting to present qualitative pieces of data as well as quantitative.
For instance, imagine telling a story of a student who flourished because of the financial aid award. This student might be a picture of how you want your aid to work in the future and how it might be beneficial for you to get more financial aid or grants to award in the next year.
Just as important as data-driven stories you want to share, keep in mind the ones you don’t want to share to ensure confidentiality and adherence to each program’s specifications. You will also want to review and reflect on your surveys from the previous year, to see where improvements can be made for next year’s survey.
Take time now to tackle the following questions:
- Which stories do we think will be the best to tell about our students and how they used financial aid?
- What stories lack enough data and how can we build that in for next year?
- What student stories can we include in our admission or enrollment packages to show how students thrive and excel with new funding opportunities?
Remember too, you can pull reports during the year that will help you create a fuller picture for your key supporters, especially when seeking to increase your financial aid budget. You can also see where you might be missing data and then fill it in so by the end of the year your success will be easily visible.
Hint: Review all the reports you pull during the year and see if there are ones that you can better customize or ones that you can do away with for the next year. Be sure to ask your stakeholders and key staff if the reports you’re giving them are providing the best highlights of your school’s financial aid process and successes. Try some new filters and create specialized reports from your numbers to better serve those with who you share them with.
As you prepare to share your story with key stakeholders, you are already pages ahead for next season. What have you learned this year? Are there improvements you can make to your financial aid assessments for next year? We’ll be wrapping up this 4-part series by posting the final chapter soon.
Jump to the series’ conclusion by downloading our Best Practices for Year End guide. Get your free copy here.
SSS is a cloud-based, complete financial aid solution that helps schools to keep up with today’s economic realities by collecting the data they need with a time-tested, fair and equitable approach to reach the families who most need help—interested in learning more? Contact us today.