By Joe Laskowski.
Higher Ed Growth (HEG) had the pleasure of sponsoring and joining leaders in regulation, compliance, and marketing at Comply 2016 — THE Marketing Compliance Conference. The event took place in NYC and this year’s agenda was exceptionally timely.
Higher Ed Growth was honored to help lead the discussion on “The New Normal in Higher Education Marketing” and joined other compliance and industry experts — Denis Ryan of 2U, Bruce Douglas of Education Dynamics and Joeri Weyenberg of HigherEducation.com — on the forum.
The marketing conversation continues to be an important one, as the industry has seen new precedents set over the past 6 years. We’ve seen what happens when the lines are blurred between marketing and misrepresentation: It can be costly for institutions — and most importantly, the students. Creating an environment that enhances and supports student outcomes is what’s really important, and that’s exactly what the new regulations are supposed to protect. Whether or not they do is still up for discussion.
However, there are many ways to enhance outcomes through higher education marketing campaigns — even while navigating the challenging compliance landscape. In fact, two new guidelines were instituted last summer, making Comply 2016 and the marketing forum a fitting time to reflect on industry-wide impacts.
1. Gainful Employment
Under regulations that went into effect July 2015, higher education programs must lead to “gainful employment” after graduation. In more specific terms, the estimated yearly loan payment from school programs must not be more than 20 percent of a graduate’s discretionary income or 8 percent of total earnings. Otherwise, schools may lose student aid.
There are a few different ways for institutions to navigate this risk area. One solution? Schools to share results from marketing campaigns and details about the student lifecycle with partners. This allows both sides to better understand outcomes and make changes to marketing and career placement strategies accordingly.
2. Incentive Compensation
In June 2015, a new provision was added to the Higher Education Act to end bonuses for admissions officers, marketing partners and the like when meeting school recruitment goals. Such compensation is considered to be “improper recruitment,” and schools are required to repay respective Title IV funds under this new rule.
Schools can mitigate risk by properly training employees and performing regular audits. The most effective approach here is a proactive one.
A More Successful & Compliant Path
Marketing partners and contact centers can also help schools remain competitive and compliant in many ways.
Contact center agents who connect with prospective students over the phone can confirm interest, intent and while following an approved script. Call-verified recordings offer proof that current industry guidelines are being followed, and tools like LeadiD and CallMiner provide further monitoring and analysis.
Once student information is verified and the prospect is considered “high intent,” an agent can immediately connect them with a school advisor for more information and next steps. Students are able to make more informed decisions, and schools can increase quality enrollments and retention.
Technology continues to innovate this space and makes meeting compliance easier. In addition to increasing productivity, contact centers with tools to streamline the entire lead lifecycle can significantly reduce errors and risk.
As discussed at Comply 2016, adapting to changing regulations can be challenging, but it’s not all bad news. Employing new technology and approaches to higher ed marketing can actually boost enrollments, outcomes and the bottom line. The future of federal regulation may currently be a bit uncertain, but the future of higher education remains bright.