Affordability is important to Montclair State University. That is likely why they were named one of the 25 Best Buy Colleges in the Northeast by Forbes. MSU serves a diverse student body of more than 21,000, with a significant population of first-generation students and over 4,400 undergraduates who have an EFC of 0 in the most recent academic year. As Hayato Suzuki, Assistant Director of Student Financial Services, puts it, “Montclair’s goal is to provide access and assist students in achieving their educational and professional objectives and to do so in a safe, welcoming environment.”
Print, mail, repeat: An endless cycle
Suzuki will be the first to tell you that his team’s manual award letter process was no walk in the park, before implementing CampusCommunicator. “Prior to CampusCommunicator, our award process was pretty brutal,” said Suzuki. MSU’s financial aid staff was managing printed mailings of award letters to more than 8,000 incoming students each year. The process was arduous. The entire office would pause their daily tasks to help pack and mail thousands of letters.
This kind of process robs staff and students of critical advising time and delays when students receive their award letters. Now, with CampusCommunicator, MSU sends out digital communications and students can review their financial aid package instantly. As Suzuki puts it, “We have a digital platform essentially bringing us into this century where we can - across the board - award a student and give them a notification that can be updated if awards are revised.”
Time for a change to a modern student experience
Montclair State made the switch to CampusCommunicator after realizing that there was an opportunity to better line up with the industry standard of cultivating student-friendly technology. They saw other schools moving towards digital communications and platforms and did not want to be left behind. “As the second-largest university in New Jersey, we wanted to make sure we were pacing along with what other schools were doing and meeting the needs of students who are used to social media and e-commerce experiences,” said Suzuki.
CampusCommunicator is part of the CampusLogic Student Financial Success platform, empowering schools like MSU to meet students where they are. CampusCommunicator offers an intuitive design, hovering text explanations, dynamic video, and personalized content. The solution clearly outlines all the key information students need to make confident and responsible financial decisions about their education.
The Impact of CampusCommunicator at MSU
Montclair State University is fostering a new financial aid experience for students and staff. The university now has data to better understand when and how students are accessing financial aid communications. On average, new award letter notifications have a 67% open rate and students are spending 35 – 40 minutes reviewing their award packages. Further, with platform metrics, MSU knows that most students are viewing communications most often between 9 am and 2 pm.
Finding more time for students’ needs
Since implementing CampusCommunicator, MSU found more ways to meet their students' needs with personalization. Along with award letters, MSU is using CampusCommunicator to send SAP notifications, a previously manual, paper-driven process. Now, the SAP committee can contact students, review academic plans, and SAP appeals in one place, virtually.
MSU is also keeping students on track with FAFSA renewal reminders. CampusCommunicator allowed them to set up a three-part email series for students who have completed FAFSA for the current financial aid year but have yet to complete the application for the year ahead.
Students are moving faster and more seamlessly through the financial aid process. Financial aid staff, in turn, are spending less time on common, frequently asked questions about award letters and more time on advising students with complex needs.
Suzuki explains it best, “What we get to do now is focus on other aspects of customer service. When we were spending time cataloging and managing paper files, we often didn’t have time for personalized communications.”