At Academic Innovators, we harness the power of our team’s deep experience and expertise combined with carefully-vetted service partners to develop targeted solutions for colleges’ pressing challenges. Here are some examples:
Building the Comprehensive Enrollment Program
Colleges and universities must identify new, efficient ways to attract, enroll, and retain students. Operational strategies developed in the bygone era of rising enrollments will not succeed. At Academic Innovators, we craft comprehensive and creative solutions linked to demonstrable metrics using a range of components, such as:
- A comprehensive enrollment strategy that targets students across multiple categories and programs. Technology, often from third-party partners, is used to identify, nurture, and support the right mix of applicants needed to achieve budget targets.
- A progressive financial aid model with established goals, including discount rate targets, for academic programs or divisions, athletics, merit aid recipients, and other student categories. Staff training and linking co curricular programs, particularly athletics and students services, to academic programs to support enrollment targets are keys to the solution.
- Innovative student financing products, loan repayment assistance programs.
- A rigorous retention strategy, measured by definable metrics and supported by designated staff.
- Technology resources to link retention strategies to graduation rates, providing real-time counseling solutions in course loads and finances to support students towards graduation.
- New sources of tuition revenue, including the exploration of new academic programs or products such as certificate programs. Partnering with an education technology provider can provide support throughout the academic program lifespan.
Improving Medical Care and Driving Down Medical Costs
- 24-hour medical, psychological counseling and wellness program. Academic Innovators partners with an established, best-practice provider to offer 24-hour physical and mental health to students, all at a very attractive per-student price thereby avoiding complex insurance transactions.
- Lowering prescription drug costs for faculty and staff. Modeled after practices in government and industry, Academic Innovators partners in a new program to lower the cost of high-priced specialty drugs for faculty and staff at self-insured institutions. The program guarantees a significant savings on existing costs, returned directly to the institution’s operating budget.
Using Technology to Modernize Operations and Connect a Campus
- Data Analytics. At Academic Innovators, we work with ed tech partners to create the data tools essential to make a campus work efficiently together. The right data platform helps a college plan and collaborate more effectively to measure its progress towards its strategic goals. The right planning and implementation tools integrated across campus will ensure a level of excellence across campus, permitting priorities to match needs.
- Broadband Improvements. Small and rural colleges often operate at a distinct disadvantage because they historically do not compete on technology. While the American Rescue Plan will provide funding to improve broadband connections nationally, a campus must commit to providing students, faculty, and staff with reliable, high-speed internet and streaming services. With its technology partners, Academic Innovators works with colleges and universities to remove the barriers to high-speed broadband to help level the playing field across higher education.
Improving Debt Management and Asset Monetization
At Academic Innovators, we believe that colleges and universities must immediately reconsider how facilities shape their academic programs. Beyond accumulating debt to build or improve their physical plants, we work with institutions to explore solutions in three areas:
- Existing debt which can be reevaluated for economic refundings, as well as structural and/or debt service relief, using competent licensed financial advisors who are experts in the higher education market;
- Programs that provide immediate capital at attractive rates that are slightly higher than market levels but provide new revenue in 60- to 90-days, monetize assets based on their replacement value, and use innovative 30-year sale leaseback arrangements with no limitations on how the revenue is used on campus; and
- State or federal programs, like the Rural Facilities Guarantee Programs and the Community Facilities Direct Loan Program, that provide up to a 40-year taxable alternative, for new projects and/or the refinancing of existing debt.
Our partners include a MSRB-registered municipal and swap advisory firm and a real estate advisory firm. Together, we have the unique ability and expertise to effectively finance a college’s facilities, which are often an institution’s most underutilized financial asset.
Seeking Financial and Strategic Affiliations
Increasingly, colleges and universities are exploring institutional affiliations as one alternative to meet their strategic objectives and/or to address financial vulnerabilities.
Academic Innovators has partnered with a FINRA licensed investment bank with experience with higher education institutions and other nonprofit organizations to offer advisory services on meager and acquisition (M&A) feasibility and M&A execution.
Our approach to the M&A process has five distinct and successive phases which we will guide an institution through: evaluation, preparation, solicitation, negotiation, and finalization. We help institutions identify and assess potential partners, including extensive financial analysis and other due diligence on potential partners.
Paying for College
As student debt levels have grown to an astronomical $1.6 billion, colleges must find new options for families and students to be able to afford their educations. Academic Innovators is working on a group of such programs that combine to complete the financial aid package for students and their families.
- Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP). LRAP’s provide an invaluable safety net for prospective students and their families. If income after graduation is modest, a college’s participation in the LRAP program will help repay a graduate’s loans, parent PLUS loans, and private alternative loans. This additional option reduces stress for cost-conscious students and families to permit them to attend the college where the programs represent the best fit for the student’s professional goals.