Like us, you’re probably reading a lot these days about the growing student debt burden, particularly for graduate programs and – even more specifically – those programs that are fully online. An increasing number of students are taking on five and six figure loans to pay for programs that may leave them with disproportionately low earning potential upon graduation.
In one response to this alarming trend, Senators Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown, and Tina Smith recently sent a letter to eight online graduate degree recruiting and development management companies, raising the concern that “there is no consistent public disclosure of how many of those dollars are directed to recruiting, advertising, and profit, rather than instruction.” As reported by the Wall Street Journal, these specific partnerships are predicated upon tuition revenue sharing models between universities and management companies, resulting in a rapid expansion of online degree programs where little attention is paid to transparency, accountability, or equity. And who suffers the most in all of this? The students.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
In a hyper-competitive environment, graduate schools more than ever need to collaborate with a partner who is committed first and foremost to attract candidates who are the best fit for their program. For example, at MF Digital, our marketing campaigns take a student-centered approach that focuses on creating an impactful, personalized experience that’s focused on curriculum, faculty, and post-graduation opportunities.
Our fee for service model means that institutions can focus on finding the right students who will thrive in their graduate programs. With transparency in pricing, institutions can budget their advertising well in advance and in proportion to overall goals. More importantly, without the incentives to recruit quantity over quality or push students to enroll in the most expensive degree programs – practices that are prevalent in revenue share models – institutions can devote crucial resources back to their students.
“MF Digital was attractive to us in part because they don’t do a tuition share,” explains Colin P. Marks Associate Dean for Strategic Partnerships and Innovative Programs at St. Mary’s School of Law. “In fact, the MF Digital model flips the advertising cost model – with the transparency of a flat fee, the more students we enroll the less we are paying per student for advertising.”
Eric Menkhus, Associate Dean of Centers, Programs & Innovations at Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University agrees, adding: “The fee for service model lets us be more involved in the marketing decisions and efforts. I’d assume [tuition revenue sharing] companies make most of the decisions.”
Increased transparency benefits every graduate program – whether on campus, fully online, or hybrid – that seeks to recruit and retain talented students, as well as help those students find meaningful employment and a supportive alumni network upon graduation. We’ll continue to advocate for our flat fee partnership model and our open, collaborative approach. We invite any potential partner to contact us to learn more and join us in this pursuit.