Today, Neumann University delivers thousands of award letters a year to its students—at a fraction of the time and resources previously used in the old, manual, paper-based days. Improved efficiency and increased student financial wellness are the “new normal” thanks to easy, mobile, personalized AwardLetterSM says Director of Financial Aid Andrea Van Horn Del Vacchio.
“Historically, award letters are difficult for students to understand,” she admits. They are also time-consuming and tedious for the Financial Aid Office to produce. “Our old process was 85% manual,” Van Horn Del Vacchio recalls. “The setup, template creation, mail-merge, Excel spreadsheets, those things were nothing compared to how overwhelming all of the information was for our students.”
AwardLetter to the Rescue
Her perspective changed after the Pennsylvania Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (PASFAA) 2015 conference. “We were always on the lookout for ways to make the financial aid award letter easier for students to understand while streamlining efficiency and cost in our office,” she says.
When her staff came back from PASFAA raving about AwardLetter, part of the CampusLogic Student Financial Success platform, she knew she had to check it out.
AwardLetter delivers modern, mobile communications that bring to life the value and affordability of an institution to prospective students. More than just a financial aid package, AwardLetter is easy to understand, available on any device, and personalized for each student. Institutions benefit by boosting enrollment, improving efficiencies, and providing the best student experience.
Overwhelmingly Positive Reception From Students
Neumann has sent 3,700 AwardLetters via CampusLogic since March of 2016—to overwhelmingly positive response. “Students and parents are more engaged with our content. They’re doing more research because of the links, hover-copy and improved design,” Van Horn Del Vacchio explains.
“Our new AwardLetter has also spurred more informed questions from parents and students,” she adds. “They’re able to do research before they contact us. They’re coming to us with deeper questions. It’s really refreshing.”
Her staff members love the new, streamlined process, too. “We’ve easily improved our award letter production efficiency by, at-minimum, 50%,” she states. That's because CampusLogic's format and technology make it easier to interact with students and to guide them through the information.
“I can’t even tell you how much more efficient AwardLetter has made our office. We felt like we were taking reams of paper home just to be able to get the award letters out. Now, that’s all changed,” Van Horn Del Vacchio says with a sense of relief.
An added bonus: With a digital award letter, the university has access to analytics about opens, clicks, and resource views and can work on A/B testing to continually improve upon communications with students and parents.
Fan Favorite: The “What’s My Balance” Box
Van Horne Del Vacchio’s favorite feature—and the one she sees as most valuable to her students—is the “What’s My Balance” box.
“We show students what their estimated balance will be in four and six years to help them understand the importance of graduating in a timely fashion,” she explains. “It’s an example of how we were truly able to customize the CampusLogic templates to work for us. It puts the Total Balance front-and-center in a crystal-clear way. That singular box has been generating great conversations with students and their families.”
The CampusLogic Difference
She really values the connections she’s made within CampusLogic. “The entire team is all so experienced in financial aid,” she explains. “They were so easy to work with. If we had a question or a concern, they jumped on calls with my IT department and others to find a solution. Their industry knowledge is amazing.”
A Franciscan university, part of Neumann’s mission is to prepare students to move forward in life well-informed. “I believe that our new AwardLetter experience is aligned with that mission, offering videos, tools, and more,” Van Horn Del Vacchio explains. “I love that we’re communicating information about Neumann University as a whole, right up front.”