“CampusLogic saved my life,” said Beth Cragar, Director of Financial Aid at Sewanee—The University of the South. “We were trying to manage a lot of manual processes and burden while dealing with staff turnover,” she said. Cragar, with Sewanee for more than 30 years, has worked every desk in the financial aid office at the private liberal arts college on the outskirts of Chattanooga, TN. But with a 61 percent jump in the number of Sewanee students selected for verification in the 2018-19 aid year, and more than 2,000 paper award letters to get out the door, she hit a breaking point. “Everything was so manual and paper-based, it just wasn’t sustainable,” she explained. “That’s when I turned to CampusLogic.”
Verification Melt: The Cost of Confusion
Sixty percent of Sewanee’s 1,700 students receive need-based financial aid. In 2018-19, 700 of them were selected for verification—a tedious, confusing process many weren’t completing. “Families were faxing and mailing documents to our office, which added more work to our plates and we were understaffed,” Cragar said. Her team had to manually index all of those documents, and spent hours calling and emailing students to correct errors on forms and provide missing signatures. “All those students who end up not enrolling because they can’t get all their documents in, it’s just so frustrating for our office. We want to see them enroll, and pursue their education,” said Cragar.
StudentForms Simplified Everything, Eliminated Financial Aid Complexity
Cragar, a Banner customer, discovered the CampusLogic student financial services platform at Ellucian Live in 2017 and purchased StudentForms soon after. StudentForms drives financial aid office productivity, reducing time spent on verification, SAP Appeals, PJs, and C code resolution through paperless file review. Conflicting information is highlighted, eliminating the data entry necessary to generate ISIR corrections. Automated student follow-up via text and email reduces time spent chasing students to complete critical tasks. It was exactly the solution she was looking for.
“StudentForms handled all the outreach and reminders, all of the paper processes went digital almost overnight, and students had no trouble uploading their documents through their smartphones,” she explained. Personalized task checklists update 24/7 and keep students on track. It’s a far cry from the seven rounds of tracking letters Cragar’s office previously had to send to get students across the verification finish line. “The ease of file review was tremendous,” Cragar said. “Even some of my team members who aren’t directly involved with file review and packaging, they said, ‘you have to see this!’” Up next, she’s taking her SAP appeals digital through StudentForms as well.
Protecting Sewanee’s Student Experience at All Costs
Cragar admits she had tried outsourcing verification at one point, but it lacked the personal touch Sewanee is known for, hurting their student experience. “The cycle times for completing verifications didn’t improve with outsourcing, and the setup was substantially more than CampusLogic.” With StudentForms automating previously manual processes, Cragar’s team is able to refocus energies into counselling students who need more help.
Sewanee’s Award Letter Process Goes Mobile and Personalized
The award letter process at Sewanee also saw a major upgrade thanks to AwardLetter by CampusLogic. Every year, Cragar would send more than 2,000 paper award letters to support incoming class enrollment. An additional 1,200 were sent to continuing students. “They were a beautiful but expensive investment,” Cragar explained. “Between the enclosures, the oversized envelope and postage, it was close to $12,000 a year for prospective students.” Not included in that cost: staff time spent developing, proofing, printing and shipping the award notifications. Sewanee’s paper award letters also didn’t provide user data, and sometimes got lost. “A lot of students say they never got it, so we rerun them at a cost of $1.66 per for mailing alone,” she said.
Thanks to CampusLogic, Sewanee now sends all of their award letters digitally. Each award letter is personalized to the student, and includes helpful hover text explaining terminology. Additional resources are easy to find, deadlines and next steps are clearly listed, and all of the information is wrapped in Sewanee’s well-known brand look and feel.
Technology that Powers People and Changes Lives
“At the end of the day, StudentForms and AwardLetter are software. Software doesn’t call in sick, it doesn’t take vacation. It runs 24/7. But it doesn’t replace people—it empowers people to focus in on where we can bring the most value,” Cragar said. “With CampusLogic we took things out of the dark ages. We moved away from servicing data and paper to servicing students, to changing lives. And that’s everything.”