“Summer melt,” or “deposit melt,” is an annual experience for colleges and universities. A number—as many as one-third—of students who have been accepted, enrolled, and are expected to attend instead decide not to, even after putting down a deposit. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this situation, with many families and their college-bound students facing economic uncertainty because of shifts in employment status and income.
We are currently in the final couple of months of the recruitment cycle for Fall 2021. There is evidence to suggest that students have applied to more colleges and universities than in previous cycles. Newspaper accounts referenced individual high school students applying to as many 15 different schools. Your institution’s increase in applications may be misleading, however, and your current deposits could evaporate quickly.
Consider the following to reduce the likelihood of your deposited students not enrolling.
1. Make absolutely sure that all of your deposited students have financial aid award letters. I am always surprised at the number of college administrators who assume that deposits from students without financial aid packages are secure. During this time when many families are facing economic challenges because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the demonstration of affordability is critical in turning deposited students into enrolled students.
2. Sending financial aid award letters is a very important first step, but you also should immediately follow-up on any deposited students whose financial aid is still incomplete. Students who have not submitted verification materials, loan documents, or other required paperwork should be considered at risk and are a priority.
3. Be prepared to consider financial aid appeals from deposited students who are still concerned about affordability. The best mechanism to determine satisfaction with the award letter is a follow-up call from an admission counselor to discuss the package and answer any questions or concerns.
4. Identify the last time your admission counselors had a telephone conversation with each of the deposited students. It is beneficial to speak with each deposited student to confirm they still plan to enroll. Text messaging can accomplish this task if telephone contact in not possible.
5. Have you offered housing assignments to each deposited student and do you have a formal mechanism for deposited students to confirm their housing assignment? For colleges and universities offering on-campus housing, room assignments and acceptances are an excellent indicator of enrollment interest. Offer an opportunity for deposited students to contact their future roommate(s).
6. Course scheduling should be completed for each deposited student as early as possible. Such scheduling can occur in person, by telephone, or online. In addition, connecting deposited students to their academic advisors as early as possible can help secure the enrollments.
It’s not too late to ensure your team is doing everything possible to minimize deposit melt with just a couple of months remaining in the cycle!
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