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How is your Communication with your students?

 

The world we live in is a very fast-paced environment full of many technological advancements and social distractions. We are liked on Facebook, we order our meals by number at fast-food restaurants, and there are search engines that find answers to most all of our questions within seconds. We have become accustomed to everything being quick and instant. So, why should prospective students not get frustrated when they wait days or even weeks for a response to enrolling in a college, completing the FAFSA, and whether or not any financial assistance is available to them?

The answer is simple, most institution’s financial aid processes and procedures are antiquated. Yes, the institution may have the latest computers, what they feel is the latest software, and a well-trained staff, but their procedures remain in the 20th Century. Because of antiquated procedures, which sometime cater to protecting the financial aid officer’s job, students often wait days or even weeks to receive information about their financial aid eligibility and federal awarding of grants and loans. Institutional scholarships often take even longer to be awarded.

When these delays occur, students often abandon the thought of attending college or they find an institution that is more responsive to meeting their financial needs. Students are becoming increasingly frustrated by having to stand in line or await an appointment to be interviewed, only to learn that they need further verification information and then yet another follow up appointment. 

What if your institution had a guaranteed notice to the student of the estimated financial aid available to the student within 30 minutes of completing the financial aid review and then notice of a verification or comment code requirement within 24 hours of the school confirming the student’s application to, or enrollment in, the institution?

This is no exaggeration. At Weber & Associates, we have perfected systems and hold a U.S. Patent on a process whereby these events occur on a daily basis. There are no long lines, no appointments, no delayed responses to questions, and no waiting for financial aid estimates. When verification or comment code questions appear in the ISIR, the students receive a response within 24-hours.

What are the benefits to this?

· When a student submits an online financial aid interview, which has been customized to the student’s institution, he or she receives an immediate response advising that the financial aid review has begun.

· The interview process includes providing the students with an estimate of the financial aid they may be eligible to receive. Students who have expressed an interest in receiving student loans, are introduced to the Entrance Interview and a link to sign a master promissory note on the Federal Direct loan site. The interview process takes approximately 20 minutes, and after submission, the institution’s representative confirms that the student is either an applicant or an enrolled student.

· Once the student is confirmed, if the ISIR reveals a need for verification or a comment code resolution, the student is notified via email within 24 hours. Follow up reminders are sent to students who fail to respond in one week.

· The scheduling and awarding of financial aid begins immediately for those not selected for verification. For those students who are selected for verification, the awarding process begins after appropriate documents have been received.

· Once the awarding process has been completed, the student’s file is stored at a secure cloud location for school representatives and auditors to later review. Students receive an Award Notice advising of the available financial aid.

· The fully transparent process is available for students and financial aid representatives to review online in a portal dedicated to the institution and its students.

· The financial aid servicer then prepares payment lists for the institution to disburse at the appropriate time. All fiscal work, reporting, and reconciliations are done by the financial aid servicer.

Through these processes, students know what is happening with their financial aid at all times. This student oriented system leads to greater retention of applicants, limits no shows at the time of enrollment, and most of all improves cash flow for the institution.

If you are reading this information and would like to bring your institution’s financial aid systems into the 21st century, call us at 888-857-8690 or email our president at harry.weber@weberassociatesinc.com. We also have a customer service line available 855-865-8326 or visit our customer support site here. We would love to help!