We spoke with Sierra College’s Director of Enrollment Management and Financial Aid, Dr. Linda Williams, about Sierra College’s experience with CampusLogic. Since implementing three critical components of the Student Financial Success platform, StudentForms, CampusCommunicator and VirtualAdvisor, the institution is able to better serve its large student body—around 20,000 strong.
How did you select CampusLogic as your technology partner?
“CampusLogic was one of seven or eight companies we interviewed to find a tool that would allow students to upload documents to our office. Our California College System actually worked with CampusLogic which definitely helped in our selection.”
What processes was your office using before you made the transition to StudentForms?
“Prior to selecting StudentForms as our verification tool, everything was paper-based. Students were bringing papers to our office, mailing things, or faxing documents. And because of that, we were managing files on a first-in, first-out basis. It was an incredible burden to students and to our staff to manage an all-paper system.”
How are you using StudentForms in your office?
“Along with verification, we are using Student Forms now for SAP appeals—which was a paper process before, as well. And not only for processing SAP but for all our staff submitting supporting documents, loan requests, EFC changes and dependency overrides. We are doing all those processes through StudentForms, now. After implementing StudentForms, we went from 6-8 weeks to process a paper file down to 3-5 days to process an e-file. We are able to send and receive corrections at what feels like lightning speed.”
How quickly were students able to adapt to StudentForms after implementation in 2019?
“Once we turned the product on, it took our first student three minutes to submit their documents. And in two minutes, we were able to complete their verification. Now our students have even come to rely on our office being fast.”
What factors went into your decision to add VirtualAdvisor to your office?
“Our emails and calls were somewhat repetitive. We wanted to train students to go to the chatbot first to find answers to a lot of their questions.”
Dr. Williams said it was common for students to have similar questions, but often, students were reaching out to the financial aid office before going to look for answers online. Dr. WIlliams noted that using VirtualAdvisor has allowed students to get their questions answered while utilizing a digital chat format that feels familiar to them.
How many questions is has your team programmed into VirtualAdvisor?
“Right now, we have 41 question types programmed into our chatbot, which we named Sierra. Because students are asking related questions in different ways, we have variations in the ways each of these questions can be asked. A wonderful thing about students going through VirtualAdvisor is that our bot gets to speak to students in a conversational way that they easily understand.”
How have CampusLogic products impacted how your team spends its time?
“Since partnering with CampusLogic, our time spent preparing for the upcoming aid year has reduced. That means we’re able to redeploy our internal resources to do other things to get ready for FAFSA awarding. Our staff is now able to spend their time doing more high-touch activities. Particularly during the pandemic, we have been able to set up more calls and zooms to support marginalized students. We’re able to do more that we didn’t have the time to do before.”
Are you working on implementing anything new with CampusLogic?
We’re currently getting ready to launch CampusCommunicator. We wanted to create an updated, savvier award letter for students. And we hope to use CampusCommunicator for academic progress communication and even keeping students notified about workshops they can attend.