Survey findings: Vendor relationships and budgets across enrollment management offices

By Alexander Bloom

The Enrollment Management Benchmarking Survey collected data from enrollment managers (EMs) at 87 institutions. The survey asked EMs to report total budgets for the four largest expense categories within the Admissions Office:

  1. Operations
  2. Salary
  3. Vendors
  4. Admissions marketing

Our data showed the differences between average amounts spent on four different expense categories: operations, salary, vendors, and admissions marketing.

Most universities spend $500K or more per year on vendors

Average Total Admissions Budget, by Expense Category, All Schools

Vendor 1

Average Total Admissions Budgets (in millions of dollars), by Sector and Segment

Vendor 2

Notably, there is not a large public-private divide when it comes to vendor budgets. Public and private universities both spend in the range of $600,000 per year on vendors.

Explore the data related to budgeting and vendor relationships

However, given that the typical private university enrolls fewer students than the typical public university, private universities spend significantly more per student on vendors than public universities do.

Average Total Admissions Budgets per Student, All Schools

Vendor 3

Average Total Admissions Budgets per Student, by Sector and Segment

Vendor 4

While expenditures on vendors are by no means the greatest point of distinction between public and private universities, the data show private universities spend more than three times per student what public universities do. In particular, it is notable how regional private universities’ vendor spend per capita surpasses that for all other types of institution.

Admissions CRM, student search, and financial aid optimizations the most outsourced EM activities

For 11 different activities, the survey asked which of the following descriptions best captured the institution's relationship with vendors. The activities could be classified as:

  1. Outsourced
  2. Partially outsourced
  3. In-house/ not outsourced
  4. Not applicable

Our data showed a high degree of outsourcing across five key enrollment activities: admissions CRM, student search, financial aid optimization, market research, and marketing/branding.

Distribution of Level of Outsourcing, by EM Activity

Vendor 5

The most obvious difference is the large public-private divide. Across all five activities, private universities are more likely to fully outsource than public universities.

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This divide is most pronounced for financial aid optimization. 89% of privates either fully or partially outsource financial aid optimization, while only 31% of publics do. 44% of publics report that their institution doesn’t do financial aid optimization at all.

Similarly, 69% of private universities fully outsource student search, whereas only 39% of public universities do. In the same vein, half of all private universities engage in some type of outsourcing for market research, whereas less than 30% of public universities do.

Privates more engaged with vendors

Overall, examining the vendor relationships of EM offices reveals an unambiguous public-private divide. Although the budget differences are relatively minor when measured in aggregate, the per-student differences are truly marked. The bottom line finding is that private universities spend more per student across more activities with vendors.

Learn how EM organizations are structured to support student success

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