The University of West Georgia (UWG) is making its top-rated education accessible for more than 13,000 students. Their financial aid and enrollment teams have set out to improve the student experience and propel enrollment, retention and graduation goals. Looking toward the future, these goals are well within UWG’s reach, thanks to advanced technology, streamlined processes and a hardworking financial aid office.
But that wasn’t always the case.
Streamlined Success with StudentForms
Wilmani Humphries, Associate Director of Financial Aid, and Leigh Ann Hussey, Director of Financial Aid at UWG, talk about the uphill battle to increase enrollment and access before the university implemented StudentForms. They share that the path to reaching this goal seemed, at times, impossible.
“Before StudentForms, we were old school,” says Hussey. “It actually gives me shivers. They mailed documents in. Sometimes they’d email if there was no identifiable information, or they’d drop off information, which made for long lines once we got close to payment deadlines.”
With no clear path to streamlined efficiency for students or staff, the team turned to CampusLogic’s flagship solution, StudentForms. Hussey says using updated technology has made all the difference.
“I try not to remember life before StudentForms,” Hussey says. “We implemented the solution in Fall of 2017 with a soft launch Spring 2018. New and incoming students used CampusLogic, and then we had a full launch for the 2018-2019 aid year. Students took to it immediately.”
And the results have been outstanding.
Clear Communications with CampusCommunicator
UWG’s financial aid communications were also in need of modernization. Humphries explains that their engagements with students weren’t always clear or compelling. For students, both are critical for moving through the enrollment process, particularly during award letter season. Couple this challenge with off-hours communications that students prefer when they’re working on financial aid forms, and, too often, a confusing slog ensues.
Humphries discussed how CampusCommunicator works seamlessly to support students as they navigate their financial aid offers. “Questions have decreased,” he noted. “We’d have days with thousands of daily emails. It’s decreased significantly, even during peak time periods, and CampusLogic is the driver of that reduction.”
Humphries also noted the importance of timing when it comes to communicating with students. Before CampusCommunicator, their team was limited to a 9-5 email send. This wasn’t ideal for students, many of whom are online and looking for answers well after the financial aid and enrollment offices have closed.
“We’ve discovered that our most popular time is 11 p.m., followed by 5 p.m. and 4 p.m.,” Humphries notes. “Working students who are clocking out are seeing these messages at their convenience now.”
With CampusCommunicator, UWG students receive important aid messages via convenient, easy-to-act methods, like text messaging.
“We have students who reach out to our call center, and now we can offer on-demand resends of offer letters,” Humphries says. “From the student side, the biggest impact is that students receive their offer letters in a clear, convenient way. Digital links don’t expire, so students can go back and look at the letters when it’s convenient for them. Of course, the content of the letter and the layout are helpful. The videos are a plus, too.”
Humphries went on to explain that CampusCommunicator’s intuitive design is impactful. The content is split out based on aid type, which helps students understand the differences in financial aid funding.
Students Win with VirtualAdvisor
When considering what would improve the financial aid experience, The UWG financial aid team wanted to meet students where they were, using a format that’s comfortable for them and available 24/7. Hussey knew that student questions were slipping through the cracks. The financial aid office doors closed at 5 p.m., but students’ questions about financial aid didn’t just go away when the financial aid office closed for the evening.
Cue VirtualAdvisor, the always-on chatbot solution that enables thoughtful, real-time conversations between students and UWG. Well after financial aid advisors go offline, students receive a personalized experience driven by artificial intelligence and insights from other UWG systems. Frequently asked questions yield personalized answers, thanks to VirtualAdvisor’s integration with UWG’s SIS. Hussey noted that students most want to know about refund information and items on their bills—frequently asked questions that could be answered with an intuitive chatbot. This automation, coupled with actionable next steps, helps move more students through the financial aid process without draining staff time answering repetitive questions.
A Transformation of the Student and Staff Experience
A faster, simplified financial aid process has vastly improved the student experience at The University of West Georgia. "I use the term game changer all the time when I talk about this platform,” said Hussey, “It completely revolutionized our office.” This means UWG now has staff who are no longer bogged down with time-consuming tasks and students who get the information they need exactly when they need it.