Tuition Shock: How School Marketers Can Reduce It

Private School Tuition Shock - Truth Tree

by Trevor Waddington, Principal, Truth Tree


Click. Click. Click. Bounce.


That’s not the hook to the latest chart-topping hip-hop song. That’s the sound of a prospective parent clicking on your site, navigating to your tuition page, and leaving when they see your price tag.


Tuition Shock is the moment a parent sees your cost and doesn’t equate it to what your education is worth…at that moment. We live in the private school world, so we know and understand the cost and value; but not all parents do.


At Truth Tree, our data reinforce that notion. Among our school clients’ websites, 84% of new website visitors navigate to the tuition page within the first four clicks, and it ranks in the top 7 highest bounced pages


Schools nationwide have instituted creative solutions to skyrocketing private school tuition, but parents scroll with blinders in search of the bottom line $ £  ¥.


That is why it’s imperative to demonstrate value before prospects see the cost of your education. You must also ensure they can easily recognize and feel comfortable exploring tuition-reducing opportunities.


Four tactics will keep families engaged on your school’s website and increase the chances they inquire, apply, and enroll despite the posted tuition.


1- Change the page title

While it’s common practice to have a “Tuition and Fees” page, consider renaming it to something more inviting and informative. For example, “Tuition and Financial Aid” or “Tuition and Affordability” page titles have been trending in the past ten years.


Today, schools are further changing the phraseology with titles like “Tuition and Value” or “Making Tuition Affordable at [School Name].” These titles suggest that the school is willing to have “savings” opportunities and will work with families to make private education more affordable.


2- Add value at the top of the tuition page

Don’t overwhelm prospective parents with dollar figures as the first thing they see on the tuition page. Instead, create buffering content around the concept of the school experience as an investment that will pay dividends in the long run. 


And what’s better content than social proof in the form of an investment-centric testimonial? 


Like this.

Private School Tuition Shock - Truth Tree

3-  Ensure they don’t miss discounting

You have financial aid and scholarships for a reason: to help best-fit families send their students to your school. So don’t hide the information.


After you’ve inspired them with an investment-centric testimonial, soften the bottom line even more with ways they could potentially lower the cost.


For those who may feel uncomfortable applying for financial aid, which may cause them to stop considering your school, provide some persuasive stats.

4- Remarketing campaigns

Even if you’re using the tips above, people often scroll and scan looking for $ signs. Prospective parents will do the same, glossing over all your hard work to reduce the shock. 

It goes something like this: 

  • The user enters your site
  • Visits your tuition page
  • Does not visit your financial aid page


Now you will use your remarketing skills for display and social ads. To do this, you’ll need to create audience segments for Google and a custom audience in Facebook Ads Manager

When the user bounces from your tuition page without visiting your financial aid page, then goes to Facebook or their local news website can serve them ads like these.

Tuition is the #1 pain point for parents exploring private schools. As a school marketer, it is up to you to smooth out those pain points. 

If you can use one or more of the above tactics to lessen tuition shock, I’m confident that more best-fit families will reach out to learn more about your amazing school community.

If you’re interested in an admission pages audit to determine if your most important enrollment marketing website section is helping your hindering families from engaging and inquiring, reach out today.

UPDATE: While working in schools, I read a lot of content on private school marketing, including great blogs by Mia Charette (Major). This piece she wrote seven years ago must have stuck as there are a lot of similarities. So instead of four tactics, check this out and glean even more

I pride myself on original content with facts, steps, and humor when possible. So, I cannot say this piece is completely original. 

Identify your school’s next digital marketing move.