“Outsourcing just wasn’t student-friendly or simple for anyone,” said Ashley Tatum, Director of Financial Aid and Veteran Services at North Central Texas College (NCTC). After just two years of outsourcing financial aid processes, she brought it all back in-house and renewed her search for a solution that would help her staff keep up. “As soon as I saw a demo of CampusLogic, I knew that was the answer,” she said.
Outsourcing: Glorious Quickly Turned Cloudy
Tatum’s career in financial aid spans more than 20 years, and change has been constant. Her original decision to outsource was prompted by the Department of Education’s move to use a risk model for verification starting in the academic year 2012–13. With added complexity, five campuses in a 100-mile reach to oversee, and regular turnover among her 11 staff members, Tatum knew she needed a new way to handle verification. “It was just too much for us,” she explained. “We decided to outsource to ensure we stayed in compliance and that everything was done right.”
“The first year was a challenge,” she added. “We thought it was just the learning curve—for both staff and students.” But by the second year (2013–14), the curve seemed more like a dead end. The expectation set by the outsourcing vendor was that verification would take 5–10 days to complete. In many cases, however, it was as much as three to four months. “We started thinking ‘why bother?’ We realized we were back to where
we started—pulling up verification worksheets and doing them, inhouse, alongside our students,” Tatum said, recalling her exasperation.
Solution: StudentForms by CampusLogic
While researching other outsourcing firms, Tatum said she received a fortuitous call from CampusLogic. She saw a demonstration and was instantly hooked, implementing StudentForms across the five NCTC campuses in early 2016. “CampusLogic has empowered us,” Tatum said. “It put the process back in our hands so we could serve our students best. It’s all done in a very clean, simple way.” StudentForms simplifies financial aid processes—like verification, professional judgments, and SAP appeals. A key component of the cloud-based CampusLogic student financial services platform, StudentForms is a digital portal for managing tasks, creating workflow-driven file reviews, auto-indexed documents, automated student communications via text and email, and secure document-uploading from any mobile device.
By the end of 2016, more than 1,800 NCTC students had created accounts within the CampusLogic platform. At that point, Tatum’s staff had reviewed more than 1,330 files and parents were averaging an e-sign turnaround in less than 24 hours—a far cry from the previous weeks and months it took when outsourcing. She added that StudentForms is easy to teach to others, too, including work-study staff.
Since its implementation, Tatum has seen a 30% reduction in financial aid processing time. Faxing, scanning and indexing processes have been eliminated—and FinAid completion rates have improved. “We are also seeing fewer errors from students because the workflow for them is very easy, intuitive, and guided,” she said.
Empowering NCTC Students Through Mobile
Fostering student success and institutional excellence is NCTC’s mission. And easy, mobile, personal financial aid is helping Tatum’s staff drive toward both objectives. “The text-messaging feature is priceless,” she said, speaking of how students love the new process. Students now receive text messages when a change is made or a next step is required. “When a student comes into our office, I want to be able to help them,” Tatum noted. “We couldn’t do that with outsourcing.”