Influencing Former Students to Reenroll at your Higher Education Institution

In Brief:

  • Many students have not returned to finish their higher education due to the pandemic.

  • Reaching out to former students is a great first step in getting them to return.

  • Offering incentives is one way to influence students to finish their education.

Blog Post

Every year, more than one million students drop out of college and those who do are more than likely to default on their student loans. Due to pandemic disruptions, only 75 percent of students who started college in the fall of 2021 returned for their second year. When a student halts their education, it is not only a personal financial loss for those who don’t graduate, but also a loss in revenue and enrollment numbers for an institution. So, what can higher education institutions do to engage former students and get them reenrolled? Here are some ways to influence former students to return to their education and back on the path to success!

Reach out to Former Students

Reach out to former students using email blasts, mailing campaigns, and phone calls. Have a strong marketing message that motivates them to want to finish what they started or shows them how they can benefit financially from finishing their degree. Use these materials to direct them towards a webpage on your institution’s website where they can fill out an interest form. You want to change the notation of them thinking, “I left school” or “I dropped out” and flip it to have them think “I want to finish what I started” or “I want a better financial future.”

Make Access to Education Flexible

Many former students are adults who have busy lives. They may think that returning to school won’t fit in with their day-to-day. By providing them with a variety of learning opportunities, like on-line access or evening classes, you add flexibility to enable them to continue their education. Moreover, when it comes to former students reenrolling, make the process simple and easily understood. This also goes for technology requirements. Not all adult learners are as tech-savvy as younger students, so extra resources may be needed to assist them with newer technologies. The more barriers put in their way, the less likely they are to be successful.

Give Incentives for Returning to your Institution

When an incentive is offered, students may feel more motivated to do their best. Incentives to get student’s to return can be as simple as tuition assistance, or student debt forgiveness up to a certain amount. For example, Colorado’s Pueblo Community College introduced a plan that forgave students up to $1,000 in institutional debt if they reenrolled and finished one semester. This incentive program was a success as more than 300 stopped-out students have since come back, bringing in nearly $350k in revenue to the school. Not all incentive have to be costly for an institution. Some low-cost options can include not having a (re)application fee or offering free parking.

Offer Tuition Payment Options

Financial struggles are a major reason students drop out of college. According to Think Impact, 51 percent of college students leave school due to lack of funds. When trying to influence former students to return, educate them on all funding options available. Help them understand not all funding comes from one source. Institutions can offer payment plans which allow students to spread their payments across terms. At Nelnet Campus Commerce, we offer three different types of flexible payment plans to support nearly every student on campus, no matter their situation. Returning students can evaluate all of the payment plan options to find the plan that best suits their needs.


Learn more about our Tuition Payment Plans

Natalie Schwarz
Author: Natalie Schwarz

Natalie Schwarz is a former Content Marketing Writer for Nelnet Campus Commerce. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Creative Writing and has over a decade of professional writing experience.

View all posts by Natalie Schwarz