How One Flagship University Generated Millions by Focusing on Student Success

Provost Emeritus for Florida State University (FSU) Larry Abele originally partnered with InsideTrack to help improve student retention and graduation, but the partnership delivered much more than reduced attrition — it generated millions in revenue.

Only around 30 percent of freshmen enrolling in a public university will earn a degree within four years, and only 60 percent will do so after six years. Fewer than 11 percent of low-income, first-generation students — those whose parents don’t have a college degree — will earn one themselves.  

While over a 10-year period beginning in the mid-1990s, FSU had raised six-year completion rates from 66 percent to above 70 percent, they still weren’t satisfied.  Especially troubling was the fact that they were losing almost 18 percent of their students after the first year. Then, in 2008 they added InsideTrack Coaching to their student services offering.  

Abele originally contacted InsideTrack and invited them to campus on the advice of a colleague. After seeing attrition reduction of more than 20 percent during pilots where InsideTrack coached FSU freshman, he hired the organization to help FSU build its own coaching program based on the InsideTrack model.

According to Abele, the decision was based largely on the fact that, “they knew exactly what they were doing and how to build a coaching program. Also, their training was superb. Better than anything we had had on campus ever.”

Abele also commented that FSU ended up making their money back in about three years. He went on to say, “So, all in all, it really worked well and over about three years they weaned us from their close guidance, and we could do it on our own. But we could not have done it without the training and guidance of InsideTrack, and that is universally held on campus.”

Using InsideTrack Capacity Building, FSU was able to build their own coaching program. The student coaching revealed many valuable insights. In Abele’s words, “…you will learn so much from the coaches’ interactions with students. Things that you should know, but we often don’t about the daily life of a student.”

In one instance, a student was going to withdraw from school because she needed $500. Abele remarked, “Well, we could easily give her $500 as a long-term loan or any other way to keep her in school.”

Thanks to their InsideTrack partnership, FSU ended up seeing countless students graduate who would not have otherwise, including many underrepresented students. Additionally, they enjoyed strong financial benefits that better positioned the university for long-term success.

“One benefit that many of us don’t think about right away is the financial benefit. So right now the national tuition for public four year schools is about $9,400. That’s tuition plus fees. Since fees are generally targeted toward a certain activity the school doesn’t have a lot of control over them. But let’s say generously $5,000 in tuition per student would be available. If you think about it, for every student you keep through to graduation, that’s $20,000 in new revenue. And for a school like ours bringing in about 6,000 freshmen a year, by the time we had an 8 percent improvement — that’s $9.6 million dollars in recurring money, year after year, that you could reinvest in student success,” said Abele.

In conclusion Abele said, “I’m very pleased with the interaction, pleased with the results and would highly recommend the program to others.”

Hear Abele describe the financial benefit of the FSU and InsideTrack partnership firsthand.

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