Automate any financial aid form

February 24, 2016 Tracy Skochil

Free your office from the weight of 1,600 walruses

2015 was an eventful year in financial aid. President Obama announced plans to provide students with two years of tuition-free community college, setting off a firestorm of debate. The president announced the use of prior-prior year (PPY) tax information on the FAFSA beginning with the 2017-18 award year, a move generally met with greater acceptance. The Federal Perkins Loan program expired in September—this was later reversed, and the program is on a new extension—generating significant confusion as financial aid professionals grappled with grandfathering issues. And, of course, gainful employment regulations went into effect in July.

What will 2016 bring? Financial aid professionals and policymakers are just settling into this new year, so time will tell. But one thing is for sure: paperwork continues to increase.

2016 will involve lots of paperwork

Still dealing with the influx of paperwork the 2015 changes wrought? Understandable. Life in a financial aid office can feel like a flood of forms, documents, letters and files. It’s been estimated that financial aid professionals deal with half a billion pages of financial aid documentation every year. Most of these documents are hard copies that must be requested, submitted, received, managed, filed and archived by hand.

Half a billion pages equals 1,670 walruses

  • 1 ton of paper equals 200,000 sheets
  • 500,000,000 sheets = 2,500 tons
  • 1 ton weighs 2,000 lbs.
  • Walruses weigh around 2,000 lbs.
  • your paperwork may weigh as much as 2,500 walruses

Mobile-optimized web forms

How do you get the walruses off your back, and out of your office? Mobile-optimized web forms. This technology allows financial aid offices to convert verification, professional judgments, c code resolution, SAP appeals, and custom institutional forms into mobile-optimized web forms including workflow, triggers, and student/parent e-signature capabilities.

Imagine what life would be like if you used our mobile-optimized versions of Professional Judgments, SAP Appeals and custom forms:

Professional Judgment Appeal form

Use Case: Used when a student wants to appeal how he or she is being looked at from a financial aid standpoint. For example, a technically-dependent student may have extenuating circumstances such as abandonment, incarceration, incapacitation or abuse. Other examples include dependency override, or an adjustment to one’s financial situation between the base year they filled out the FAFSA and this year.

Form Content: Reasons for appeal, personal statements, third party documentation, signature. Form must be approved or denied by the receiving financial aid office.

Fin Aid Offices maintain: One form per year. Form is mandatory if the student wants to be reevaluated.

Satisfactory Academic Progress appeal form

Use Case: Used when a student fails to meet the minimum academic requirements and has thus been denied Title IV financial aid going forward in their program of study. To appeal this decision, a student fills out this form, explaining the extenuating circumstances that led to the outcome.

Form Content: Personal statement, third-party documentation, signature. Form must be approved or denied by the receiving financial aid office.

Fin Aid Offices maintain: one form per revocation of financial aid. Form is mandatory if the student wants to attempt to continue with financial aid.

Low Income Verification Form – custom

Use Case: Used to provide substantiation/verification in situations where a school suspects that a student’s family does not make enough money to support the number of people they are claiming to support on the FAFSA.

Form Content: Information relating to Snap (food stamp benefits), disability payment questions, additional info on how the student will be supported.

Fin Aid Offices maintain: One form per continuous enrollment period. Mandatory if selected by the school as necessary.

Benefits beyond paper weight-loss

Automating financial aid forms brings so many more benefits than simply dropping the tons of paper weight mentioned earlier. With mobile-optimized web forms, you can:

Improve the student experience: Students can access their web-portal in a self-service fashion, uploading documents, filling out forms and providing an e-signature, right from their mobile device.

Automate reminders: Automate follow-up communication and trigger confirmations via fully customizable email and text messaging.

Eliminate indexing and imaging: Imaging and indexing of documents becomes a thing of the past with pre-indexed document retrieval. All data is stored securely in the cloud, accessible instantly.

Does your school have unique custom forms?

Custom financial aid forms can be converted into mobile-optimized web forms. Think you have a form that can’t be automated? Try us! Email us at, or leave a comment below. (The worst that can happen is we agree with you – and we put it on our roadmap.)

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