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New Survey Finds Students More Satisfied with Financial Aid Services, Less Happy with Tuition Costs


Are today’s undergraduates getting more for their money, given the rising costs of higher education? A new report analyzing student satisfaction among nearly half a million undergraduates announced last week by Noel-Levitz offers a mixed response.

This study, which is a follow-up to a similar study conducted five years ago, examined 70 items that constitute students’ experiences both in and out of the classroom, including the areas of instruction, academic advising, course registration, admissions and financial aid, campus safety, campus support services, campus climate, campus responsiveness to diverse populations, student-centeredness, concern for the individual and service excellence.

The study found that today’s students are significantly more satisfied than their predecessors regarding the timeliness of financial aid awards. In addition, students are more satisfied that their financial aid counselors are helpful.

However, when asked how satisfied they are that their tuition is a worthwhile investment, student satisfaction declined significantly over the past five years.

This report is based on a survey completed by more than 460,000 students at 790 colleges nationwide. It highlights areas of the college experience where student satisfaction is up, where it has held steady, and where it is down by comparing students’ responses today to those of their counterparts from five years ago.

“The Student Satisfaction Inventory is a powerful tool for improving the quality of student life and learning,” said Julie Bryant, director of the national study and senior director, retention solutions at Noel-Levitz. “The data helps guide strategic action planning, strengthen student retention initiatives, meet accreditation requirements, identify areas of strength for institutional marketing, and chart progress toward campus goals.”

In the areas that matter most to students-quality of instruction, academic advising, and safety-student satisfaction has not changed noticeably over the past five years. Yet students today are more satisfied with certain aspects of their experience, including their course registration experiences and the adequacy of computer labs and libraries.

Students’ satisfaction with two issues related to the quality of instruction improved markedly. Students gave a “thumbs up” toinstructor performance in providing timely feedback and in consideringstudent differences. 

The study also revealed that, compared to five years ago, students’ satisfaction has increased markedly in the areas of course registration, computer labs and libraries, and tutoring and academic support.

To read the full report, go to

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