Measuring the Impact of Financial Aid and Student Support Services on Course Registration

How Anthology® One Stop helped to increase retention at Walden University

An early pioneer in distance education, Walden University was established in 1970 to make advanced degrees more accessible to non-traditional learners. Today, Walden continues that mission with online programs designed for adults and others who need a flexible path to a high-quality education. Approximately 48,000 students are currently enrolled in the university’s more than 80 online bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and certificate programs.


Walden University

Institution Type: Four-year private

Location: Online, headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Organization Size: 48,000

Anthology Products

uplift in term-to-term retention rate

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The Challenge

For many students today, financial aid is the most important factor in educational success and completing a degree. If a student with a potential financial aid obstacle can’t find help or be directed toward a solution, they may risk attrition.  

This critical issue surfaced at Walden in 2019 when support staff were struggling to keep up with an influx of financial aid calls and chats, resulting in long hold times for students and overtaxing agents. Recognizing the broader implications of providing students with fast and easy access to financial aid support, Walden leaders made the strategic decision to enlist Anthology’s One Stop services to supplement the university’s in-house team.  

With the partnership, Anthology would provide Walden students with 24/7 financial aid support via phone, online self-service, and mobile apps. Around-the-clock availability was particularly important for Walden’s large student body of working professionals who need service access during non-conventional hours.

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The Goals

Anthology and Walden leaders hypothesized that by making it easier to access financial aid information and assistance, Anthology® One Stop would enable students to register for their courses unencumbered by financial aid holdups.

Therefore, in addition to improving standard operational-level call center metrics such as average hold time, average speed to answer, etc., goals included:

  • Measure the impact of the Anthology service on term-to-term retention against a control group of financial aid inquiries handled by Walden staff
  • Expand coverage for financial aid support inquiries to meet growing student demand
  • Increase the number of resolutions to potential barriers, such as finance-related holds, that might otherwise prevent a student from registering for the following term

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The Approach

Between 2019 and August 2020, Anthology fielded more than 141,000 financial aid support calls from 60% of the student body. Next-term course registration rates were then tracked across that 60% of students who interacted with Anthology versus the 40% of students with no Anthology interaction. Additional data analysis was performed to better understand the impact of Anthology services by degree level, registration account holds, student GPA, and other factors.

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The Results

The term-to-term retention rate for students who interacted with Anthology was 26% higher than the comparison group.

Additional analysis revealed:

  • Anthology-handled students registered for courses at higher rates across every program level: doctoral (27%), master’s (26%), and undergraduate (26%).
  • Students supported by Anthology registered for courses at higher rates across all GPA bands. The greatest difference was in students with a 2.0 GPA, who registered at a rate nearly 73% higher than the comparison group. Students with a 2.5 GPA registered at a rate 53% higher than the comparison group and students with a 3.0 GPA registered at a 48% higher rate.
  • Students with one or more financial holds on their account were 31% more likely to register for the next term if engaged by Anthology than the control group.
  • Of the colleges within Walden, the College of Health Sciences had the greatest differential between Anthology-handled and non-handled students with a 32% difference, followed by the College of Social and Behavioral Science (28%) and the College of Nursing (26%).

Anthology and Walden successfully partnered to better serve students who might otherwise have been at risk for attrition due to financial aid support problems. Anthology One Stop services resulted in a term-to-term retention rate for students who interacted with Anthology that was 26% higher than the comparison group, providing Walden with valuable quantitative and qualitative data to help drive future student success efforts.

Provide students with accessible and comprehensive support to help them persist and succeed. Learn more about Anthology’s One Stop solutions.