“Because you need advice. Not just loan applications.” That’s what Seminole State College of Florida’s Financial Aid Office website proclaims. But inefficient, manual student verification processes were taking Kristen Giddens, the school’s Assistant Director of Student Financial Resources, and her team off track. “Our turnaround time was astronomical—it was taking months,” Giddens explains, noting that bringing on an outsourcer to help hadn’t alleviated the strain. “It was a process problem, and when I saw StudentForms by CampusLogic, I knew it was the right solution to give my staff time back to focus on advising, and to make everything more efficient for our students.”
Perfect Storm of Process Problems
A public state college with four campuses and a growing online student base, Seminole State College of Florida is the eighth-largest member institution in the Florida College System. Serving more than 30,000 students, Giddens knew making process improvements would drive student financial success. “Previously we had to wait for all documents to trickle in before even starting to look at individual student files,” she says. “Once everything was in, staff would begin scanning, reviewing, and following up with each student for missing information.” Sometimes that resulted in starting the entire process over again.
Adding to the strain, Seminole State was bringing in ISIRs in late June, much later than other institutions. With the old process, it was impossible to complete verification before classes started, creating a situation where students could face unexpected financial aid surprises at the last minute. “A student might think they’re going to get $3,000, but then when verification comes back, things were changed, and now they’re getting a little over $1,000,” Giddens explains. “That’s a big difference if you’re planning to live off that money.”
Seminole State College’s Solution: StudentForms by CampusLogic
StudentForms simplifies financial aid processes—verification, professional judgments, and SAP appeals. A key component of the cloud-based CampusLogic student financial success platform, StudentForms provides a digital portal for financial aid professionals to manage tasks, review files, and automate student communications and reminders via text and email.
Documentation Collection 99.5% Faster
Gone are those painful days of students collecting stacks of paper documents, of staff spending hours scanning them, of waves of foot traffic and questions coming through the office. Today, students upload documents from their phones or tablets, anywhere, at any time. Review is a breeze since StudentForms allows staff to check individual documents as they come in. Automated text and email communications are also a hit. “Before we had zero communications like that for follow-up with our students,” says Giddens.
The best part: Verification cycle time has been reduced from months to days, with a maximum of two weeks during peak times. “Our document collection process got reduced probably 99.5% after the changeover to StudentForms,” Giddens explains. All of the improvements translate into a 90% improvement in turnaround time—and the outsourced help isn’t even needed anymore, adding cost savings.
Less Administrative Work, More Time for Advising & Improving
With verification now running smoothly, Giddens is bringing ISIRs in earlier. This year they moved them up to the end of April, the earliest they’ve ever done, and plan to continue to push that date back so Seminole State is in line with other institutions. They’re also now using StudentForms to simplify and automate Satisfactory Academic Progress and Professional Judgement appeal processes.
Those communications and an easy-to-use interface have empowered students to take ownership of their financial aid journey. Staff is doing far less hand holding and is able to have deeper discussions with high-needs students around borrowing and financial commitments. StudentForms also helps financial aid staff track how many communications were sent out to a student and when—which helps tremendously when students respond to financial aid issues with “I didn’t know.” Giddens is able to constantly evaluate the resources being sent to improve comprehension and engagement.
Painless PeopleSoft® Implementation
Implementation and integration to her PeopleSoft student information system was painless. “The staff training offered by CampusLogic, whether it was videos or webinars, was empowering. Obviously until you get your hands in the technology and are working with it every day, it can seem overwhelming—but it’s not. It’s really simple, and CampusLogic gave me the right tools to be effective,” says Giddens. “CampusLogic has in-depth knowledge of financial aid and student needs. They can help an institution make an impact in a positive way, not only helping our staff, but in turn, making an impact to the student when it comes to money.”