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Giving More Power to Student Consumers: Why We Started Edmit

January 25, 2018

Like any good origin story, a chance conversation lead to an innovative idea. If you’ve read Edmit’s profile in the Boston Globe, you know that Edmit co-founder Nick Ducoff had breakfast with a friend in Seattle, and the friend lamented the relatively low financial aid awarded by his child’s first-choice college compared to similar schools where he was accepted. Ducoff suggested simply asking the college to match--something the parent had no idea they could do. As published tuition rates at colleges has soared, so has discounting. In many cases, colleges are now discounting 50 percent or more. Colleges spend a lot of money to get students to apply and once they have gone that far, they are often willing to go a little further to enroll the student.


At its core, Edmit will empower students and families to research and compare true prices and data on outcomes across their schools of interest, all in one place. “There’s been this continuing thread [in my work] of driving higher education costs down and helping students get more value,” says co-founder Nick Ducoff, referring to his previous roles at Boundless and Northeastern University. For Edmit, he teamed up with cofounder Sabrina Manville, formerly of Southern New Hampshire University, where she had worked on educational access initiatives including College for America.  


“Through that work, I met a lot of students for whom affordability is central to their college decision--and that’s true of most students in America today,” says Manville. “Colleges care about affordability also, but it’s almost impossible for individual colleges to provide all the information each student needs to make the right decision for them.”


“Parents and students have sticker shock,” adds Ducoff. “In some cases, families start saving for college in their 529 plan when their child is born and still can’t afford the ever-increasing cost of college. We want to give consumers more buyer power, and help them take outcomes and value into account by sharing data about debt, employment, and earnings in addition to cost.”


The way to address the problems with college affordability, transparency, and underenrollment?


“Give more information to consumers,” says Manville. 

"You know about net price calculators. We’re more of a net price advisor. We tell families not only what they are likely to pay but what they should pay. Are they getting a fair deal? And we also take into account outcomes to help them understand not only if it’s a good deal but if it’s a good investment.”

 

Here’s how it works:

 

Edmit for Students

 

Edmit's estimator is free for students and families. You should build a profile, covering two key areas: academic performance (starting with grades and standardized tests) and financial need (your zip code is used to approximate your household income; you can also provide Edmit with your actual income or EFC for greater accuracy in your profile section).

 

Once the student’s profile is complete, “we can make recommendations around fit and value, driven by academic merit and financial need,” says Ducoff.

 

“Edmit is a tool you can use at any point - whether at the end of the decision-making process, when you’re figuring out what school you can best afford, where you might be able to appeal for more financial aid, and what is the best value school for you,” says Manville, “or when you're researching the schools you should apply to that might provide the right financial fit.”

 

Edmit for Parents and College Counselors

 

Parents and college counselors can also create profiles and will soon be able to share information with their children or students they work with.

 

“We really want each student to have their own profile,” says Ducoff. “And we’ll also build out features over time to help parents contribute financial information and see across their kids’ profiles, and for college counselors, who are working with dozens of students, to be able to see across their students or clients.”

  

With informed decision-making through the Edmit tool, students and families can select the best school for their goals and budget--and also take on fewer debt obligations during their time at college.


“We wish that all students could have better information in the process,” says Ducoff, “and more savviness so they can be best set up for success when they graduate.”