Make college admissions and fin aid more accessible: remove digital barriers

February 10, 2016 Tracy Skochil

Building an optimal student experience means you need to know your audience – intimately.

For example, we all know students live by their smartphones—we’ll wager you’re reading this on your phone right now, too. Dig deeper and you’ll find that while 64% of adults own a smartphone, more than 20% of them have limited options for online access other than that phone. Here’s the eye-opening infographic.

PEW smartphone dependent

Source: PEW Research Center

The PEW Research Center also claims that young adults, non-whites, and lower-income Americans are especially dependent on smartphones for online access. So if you’re a student applying for college, you’re likely wanting to do it on your phone—either out of preference or necessity.

This is just one example of how customer insights should be driving your student experience enhancements.  DecisionDesk and CampusLogic have developed leadership positions in admissions and financial aid, respectively, because we are better at transforming the student experience than anyone else. And student experience matters. Continuing to tailor your services to meet the individual needs of your students is a marathon, not a sprint. Here are five steps to help you get started.

Easy-capture and auto-population of data

Make it easy for students to do exactly what they need to do: provide correct, specific information. Many paper forms are generic boilerplate forms that cover all possible scenarios. A digital solution that auto-populates fields and uses logic to determine which fields to present to a student will save time across the process.

  • During the financial aid verification process, CampusLogic auto-populates key information from a student’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and personalizes verification questions based on an individual student’s profile. This eliminates errors and offers students only the questions they need to answer (vs. every question including the ones that don’t apply).
  • DecisionDesk’s Application Builder jives with a variety of systems – CEEB codes from high school databases and verified addresses, for example. Institutions can auto-upload scholarship information directly inside a student’s application checklist based on demographic criteria (e.g. “You Qualify for a Women in Engineering Scholarship! Complete Essay Here”).


Online task management

Students are busy, just like everyone else. Finding time to call or email an admissions or financial aid office to check in on their application status may get lost amid daily life. Transparency rules—giving students access to their own checklists can greatly reduce bottlenecks.

  • CampusLogic includes an online check list that updates in real-time showing where the student is in the verification, professional judgement, and SAP appeal processes.
  • DecisionDesk offers a portal where students can live-check credentials – and include simple parameters to help set expectations (screenshot below).
Applicant Checklist - DecisionDesk

DecisionDesk’s Applicant Checklist


Mobile friendly

comScore reports that in 2014 globally, the number of mobile users passed the number of desktop users. Are your student-facing websites and resources mobile-friendly and mobile-optimized? You can test them out here – but also be sure to pay attention to your website’s speed, and ensure crucial information is easy to find. Both CampusLogic and DecisionDesk offer mobile-optimized solutions that make it easy for students to find information, fill out documents on their phone, upload a variety of media to fulfill documentation requirements, and more. It’s almost like taking their admissions or financial aid office with them, wherever they go.

For example, both DecisionDesk’s mobile application and CampusLogic’s platform enable students to upload files using their phone’s native interface:

Mobile Upload - DecisionDesk

DecisionDesk’s native device upload feature

Automated reminders

What do 18-29 year olds use their smartphones for, in order of priority? Text messaging, internet use, voice/video call, email and SNS (tied for fourth!). For 30-49 year olds it’s text messaging, voice/video calls, internet use, then email. (Thanks again, PEW!) If you want to get your students’ attention, text is an ideal option – yet very few student services offer this (yet).

  • CampusLogic integrates automated, time-triggered text and email reminders, taking the burden of follow-up off of financial aid staff. Once customer noted 242 of 250 potential drops were saved by the text alert functionality.
  • DecisionDesk automates and triggers emails to remind students of deadlines, improving admission completion rates by up to 15% . 


CampusLogic automates customizable text alerts

CampusLogic automates customizable text alerts


Easy integration

Choosing a solution that easily integrates with all of the other systems in your office is crucial-and enables the easy-capture, auto population we talked about earlier.

  • CampusLogic integrates with key Student Information Systems, automating data updates in the SIS, automatically indexing and exporting completed documentation and imaging systems.
  • DecisionDesk integrates with existing marketing/CRM tools, imports data/documents from partners, and exports to Student Information Systems.


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