D’Youville University Needs Assessment Case Study

Arbol partners with D’Youville University medical students to perform needs assessments on each student’s college expenses

Case Overview

D’Youville University provides a group of 15 students to beta test Arbol’s MVP, the very first set of students on the platform. Arbol wants to work closely with each student to understand their financial situation and gain valuable data on where students have the biggest troubles financially or need the most support. Students are able to set up a one hour meeting with the Arbol team to work through their budget together on the platform. The Arbol team asks questions about each student’s cash inflows (scholarships, financial aid, income) and cash outflows (tuition, school fees, food, transportation) to derive the total financial gap the student needs funded.


Financial aid offers and college websites fail to give students clear, consistent information to effectively budget for indirect expenses and compare the full costs of different colleges. Tuition doesn’t cover the full cost of attendance, since it does not account for indirect expenses such as food, transportation, childcare, and more. This unclarity causes students to often disregard how much of an impact these expenses can have on their financial position.


Arbol gives students access to funds through a network of supporters and financial planning to help them cover costs that are overlooked and be better prepared for the future. By providing students with the tool set to plan ahead, they know how much they need to cover expenses like transportation, books, supplies, childcare and personal expenses for each semester.


This set of D’Youville University students now have a better overview of their budget for the Fall 2022 semester. They are able to plan for the coming semester and begin to raise funds through Arbol’s supporter network. Arbol has also learned valuable insights that will help improve the product and user experience as the platform continues to scale. For example, Arbol is learning that indirect costs are much higher than expected, with food being the largest category. Housing and personal expenses (in particular, medical costs such as prescriptions) are also affecting students’ finances. This shows that indirect expenses are a potential area to focus on when funding students that may provide the highest impact.

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