Private Institutions Sign on To Offer 'Tuition Reward' Points
- By Dian Schaffhauser
A group of private colleges have recently signed on for a program that gives them marketing access to potential students whose families have accounts at specific financial companies. Over the last three months Linfield College in Oregon, Stevenson University in Maryland, Wabash College in Indiana, Waynesburg U in Pennsylvania and Madonna U in Michigan have all begun participating in the Sage Scholars Tuition Rewards program. In return for being able to market to 410,000 participating students as often as they want, the schools agree to redeem the tuition reward points earned by those students' families over the course of their four-year college career.
The structure works like a frequent flyer program. The family earns reward points equal to five percent of every dollar they've invested through participating banks or credit unions or other affiliates. A $50,000 savings account, for example, would earn 2,500 tuition reward points annual, exchangeable for $2,500 off the "list price" of tuition. The maximum that a family would be allowed to redeem for a student would be the equivalent of one year's tuition, spread over four years.
Currently, the company said, it has 357 private colleges and universities participating. They do so to gain access to SAGE's database of participating students and their data, available once a student has entered ninth grade; also, twice a year the colleges are allowed to contact student families through email sent by SAGE itself. SAGE also provides resources to help sell families on the idea of having their children attend private institutions.
Through its program, said founder James Johnston, former director of admissions and financial aid at the Wharton Graduate School, University of Pennsylvania, his company "has brought together families, schools and investment companies" to create "college-funding solutions."
Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @schaffhauser.