Businesses across the country are trying to stay afloat with less foot traffic, and news networks report daily on changing statistics and regulations. And all the while, a spotlight is shining on higher education. Institutions had to quickly transition to a new reality when the COVID-19 crisis hit. From campus closures to online learning, everything seemed to change in an instant for both students and staff, leaving many wondering how such sudden changes would allow student needs to be met.
With physical doors closed, students and parents have more questions than ever, especially when it comes to financial aid. Social distancing and office closures effectively stopped already-outdated manual and paper processes, quickly turning the focus to virtual technology and new ways teams can stay connected with students. Virtual technology has moved beyond an appealing choice; it is now a necessary tool for institutions as they connect with students and help them reach their higher education goals.
But it can be difficult for financial aid teams to know where to start. Phone calls and email communications from students are at an all-time high—many with questions about what the future holds, how funding will be distributed, and even whether professional judgments will be more lenient—but many answers remain unavailable. To make matters worse, schools that were not equipped with virtual capabilities are stuck relying on old communication styles and processes, bogging them down further. With CampusLogic, schools such as Wentworth Institute of Technology “were able to transition to a 100% online office within minutes!” says Kimberly Tibbetts, Associate Director of Financial Aid. “More importantly, it made things much easier for our students and families as they can upload everything we need in one website.”
Looking to the Future
With fall and financial verification timelines approaching, schools are frantically trying to find ways to meet student financial needs. Some schools that already had their eye on the future will have a leg up during this time of change, however. “Having CampusLogic in place has helped us keep our financial aid verification and SAP processes running smoothly in the midst of the pandemic, campus closures, and shelter in place,” says Andrea Bassett, Assistant Director of Financial Aid at Wiregrass Georgia Technical College. “Our students are still uploading documents for summer and fall at a normal pace.”
Our students are still uploading documents for summer and fall at a normal pace.
Over the next few months, financial aid offices will be challenged to support students by reducing barriers. Smart investments in technology can help eliminate friction and improve the overall student experience. For Western Michigan University, investing in automation allows them “to produce the flow of work without having to image documents, code documents, and assign documents. We have reduced processing time from 10 business days to five, and actually it’s more like 48 hours currently,” says Steven Foster, Sr. Associate Director of Student Financial Aid.
Crisis: A Catalyst for Change
The higher education system is forever changed. While the months ahead will be challenging, financial aid teams need to remain focused on a key element of overall student success: student financial success. Committed financial aid teams are already dedicated to delivering the best student experience—from enrollment through completion—and now, with their continued commitment and the power of virtual technology on their sides, they can stay connected and deliver the automated, personalized service students need.
The COVID-19 crisis has made institutions, businesses, and individuals across the country take another look at the ways they function on a day-to-day basis. For many, it has served as a wake-up call—a reminder that being tethered to paper processes, fax machines, and landlines is hindering the ability to provide the level of customer service they want to provide. A crisis can be a catalyst for change, and current social distancing requirements have shown that institutions need to be prepared with virtual solutions that will keep them connected to their students.
CampusLogic’s mission is to help schools change lives, and right now, that means helping them get past challenges and remove barriers to student success. Committed to delivering the technology and automation that will keep students and schools connected—anytime, anywhere—we are helping schools thrive, instead of merely survive, during these changing times.
Your financial aid team can take the things they have learned from the COVID-19 crisis and drive a future that helps every student reach their goals and achieve financial success. Whether in the office or working from home, your teams can be empowered with the virtual technology that will ensure they can deliver an exceptional student experience 24/7. Learn more about the future of virtual technology and how your institution can turn into a high-performing virtual office here.