The financial aid team at Sinclair Community College was drowning in document collection, verifications, and review cycles. “The verification process wasn’t as streamlined as we would have liked it to be,” said Jackie Hagerman, the school’s Associate Director of Financial Aid and Scholarships. “When everything’s manual and you’re relying on people to make individual decisions, there can be a lot of variety in how verification is being processed.” Hagerman knew simple, consistent processes were key to operational efficiency improvements—and that the right technology would help free up her staff so they could spend less time on administrative tasks and more time advising students. That's when she turned to StudentForms, part of the CampusLogic student financial success platform.
Wanted: A Streamlined and Consistent Process
Serving 30,000 students via the Dayton, Centerville, and Mason campuses, two learning centers, and online, Sinclair offers one of the lowest tuition rates in Ohio. Part of Ohio’s public colleges and universities, Sinclair’s motto is: Find the need and endeavor to meet it. Hagerman knew her students needed faster verification cycle times—as did her staff. In prior years, on-campus and remote consultants assisted with verification processing, but it didn’t take long for Hagerman to realize that with outsourcing the team was still bogged down; verifications were still taking up to 6 weeks, and the process wasn’t uniform. In addition to the extended time frame, outsourcing ultimately required people to do the work, which left the possibility for errors.
Sinclair’s Solution: CampusLogic’s Student Financial Success Platform
Hagerman turned to StudentForms to get things back on track. “Automation and reducing the likelihood of error was definitely first and foremost for me,” says Hagerman. “It’s just having that peace of mind that things are being done correctly.” With StudentForms, Hagerman optimized her verification cycle time, brought her most precious resource—the student experience—back in-house, and automated her verification communications.
A key component of the CampusLogic student financial success platform, StudentForms provides a digital portal for financial aid professionals to manage tasks, review files, and automate student communications via text and email. Plus, students can upload documents from any mobile device—a feature staff and students love for its convenience. StudentForms simplifies financial aid processes including verification, professional judgments, and satisfactory academic progress appeals, keeping students moving ahead in the process.
Maximizing Ellucian Investment: Colleague
Sinclair Community College’s student information system is Colleague by Ellucian®. Hagerman discovered CampusLogic, an Ellucian Alliance partner, at the 2018 NASFAA conference—Sinclair purchased StudentForms in November and went live in March of 2019 with full Single Sign-On and SIS integration maximizing the investment. As part of the rollout, Hagerman hosted hands-on workshops pre-launch to help her team—and other teams cross-campus—learn about the technology and practice.
Sinclair: Initial Improvement of 300% in Completed Verifications
Proof of momentous change is in the numbers. With the launch of StudentForms, verification processing at Sinclair quickly resulted in an initial improvement of 300% because of the easier (and earlier) launch of the 2019-20 verification process versus previous years and the streamlined ability for students to submit outstanding items much more quickly. With StudentForms, checks are built into the process, eliminating the need to continuously ask students for additional documentation. “Before, the student had to turn in the document, it had to go through scanning, and then it sat in the queue. It used to take 10 to 12 days for verification, best case scenario. Now it’s probably three to five, if that,” Hagerman explains.
The improvements have also impacted enrollment. “The smoother, more explanatory, guided process definitely enables us to get more folks through the door.” With the saved time, Hagerman’s team is able to focus on people and innovation rather than paper-pushing. “We have time to develop policies that had been put on the back burner, spend more time with high-needs students, and continually improve.”
More Meaningful Conversations Drive Student Financial Success
With more time back, and fewer basic questions, Sinclair staff are having different conversations these days. “The conversations with students are more meaningful because you aren’t doing a data dump on them, giving them 1,000 documents that they have to submit and then more information on top of that,” says Hagerman, adding that it ultimately means more talk about debt management and how they can ensure each student’s financial success.
The process is quicker, and students are happier because they have fewer questions. It’s impactful because completing the financial aid process is a big college barrier, Hagerman says. “It’s amazing how this has made so much of a difference, not just in the financial aid office itself, but also for the institution.”