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Frequently Asked Questions

 

The Company

Weber is the name of a family associated with the founding of a third-party financial aid service more than forty years ago. Now into the second generation of Weber management, the company has developed advanced technology to meet the demands of and providing exemplary service to more than 200 secondary educational institutions.

The company’s founder began the process of developing the service in 1972 while serving as vice present of a junior college in Kentucky. This endeavor led to Weber serving several other small institutions. Weber later became involved with another third-party financial aid management service and in 1991 began Weber & Associates, Inc. Now, 40+ years later, while continuing to serve 3 of the 4 original institutions, the company serves over 200 secondary financial institutions of many academic delivery systems.

Weber’s position as the thought leader in financial aid information management sector places it in the position of serving many types of institutions, not just clock hour schools or proprietary institutions. While the company has its roots in those types of institutions, it has grown to provide services to many types of ownership models including public, proprietary and not-for-profit secondary educational institutions. The company currently serves over 240 different academic programs, which places it in the position of understanding the many types of delivery systems. Finally, unlike other financial aid services, Weber services a wide spectrum of institutions, including those providing short-term delivery, certificate, diploma, AS, BS, MA, PhD and Theological Advanced Degrees. This experience helps Weber answer questions and provide services dedicated to meet an institution’s needs. Part of the Weber mission to provide “continuous improvement of people and processes.” Weber focuses first on the client and the relationship, rather than simply providing data or a software or online solution.

Services Offered – Information

Weber & Associates, Inc. offers a full spectrum of services including Federal Pell Grant, Federal Direct Loans, FSEOG management, Teach Grants, and Federal Work-Study. The company offers its unique Virtual Financial Aid Office (VFAO), U.S. Patent #8,660,918 82, to those institutions wishing to provide the most advanced technologies to their students. The Company also provides more traditional financial aid services to smaller institutions not wishing to use the virtual system. Weber services include all processing from front office to behind-the-scenes business and technological systems. Weber does all balancing of records with COD, G-5, Federal DSLAS Reports and the annual FISAP. Along with the systems and processing, the company provides its clients with technical advice and regulatory research without additional hourly fees. All services range from consultation only to full-service financial aid servicing, which includes but is not limited to online student interviews, aid awarding, aid disbursement and account reconciliation.

Weber services protect your institution by providing staff support consistently without interruption due to changes in school personnel, vacations or extended illness. The Weber team approach consistently provides services to your institution. The service also provides peace of mind for your management, knowing that all processing will have the protection of services provided by experienced personnel. It is also important to know that fiscal reconciliation with COD, G-5 and NSLDS are done with regularity and that your institution is protected from audit or program review findings. Weber services ensure that schools are compliant with all Title IV regulations and allow for more flexibility in the financial aid and student services department, as well as being extremely cost efficient.

While most schools would benefit from the services of Weber, an honest self-evaluation of your institution’s financial aid delivery system will very quickly provide answers as to your institution’s needs. Consider the following questions: 1) Is your institution recently accredited and interested in entering the Title IV financial aid arena? If the answer is yes, the service could assist in helping to navigate the rules and regulations involved with the eligibility process. 2) Has your institution recently been approved for participation in the Title IV Programs? If yes, having the service to navigate the process of managing all of the procedures involved the service could definitely help. 3) Has your institution had growth, added new locations and new programs? Engaging an experienced financial aid service can handle these processes to avoid future problems with the U.S. Department of Education. 4) Has your institution had turnover in the financial aid staff at your institution? The complexities involved with federal student assistance has made retaining financial aid staff very difficult. The outsourced, third-party service team concept helps your institution navigate these staff vacancies. The best answer is for your leadership to have a conversation with someone at the service who can honestly assist you in an evaluation of your needs.

The best answer is for your leadership to have a conversation with someone at Weber and Associates, who can honestly assist you in an evaluation of your needs, prepare a proposal and begin the setup process.

As we have stated in answering previous questions, there is no one size fits all. Each institution’s success in establishing a relationship with the service depends on a coordination to assure the service meets your needs. As we have stated on our website, “no school is too small.” In addition, larger institutions can be accommodated by dedicating services and resources to meet their needs. We do find that the largest benefit is for schools who are new to the Title IV process, schools who have had an FA director depart unexpectedly, schools who are under sanctions from the US Department of Education, and schools who need to find a more cost-efficient way to serve all of their students from a financial aid perspective.

As stated above there is no ideal, because each institution has its own individual needs. Weber has worked with schools from 4 to 40,000 students.

Weber has several dedicated software solutions which aid our service institutions. The most common are the patented Virtual Financial Aid Office (VFAO). The second is the Traditional “Online Start Form” system which is used by many small institutions. Finally one of the most ideal software solutions is the Student Update Reporting Exchange (SURE) system, which helps institutions to report and student status changes to the Weber system and to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS).

The best reason is for the security of your institution and peace of mind that the processes are being done according to regulation. See the question in this FAQ under the title “What is the best way to determine if I need your services?” We also find that schools that use third party servicers for Title IV aid will reduce the amount of time (and possibly overtime) that is needed to package students for upcoming award years. These schools will also save money because the per-person cost for a third-party servicer is much lower. A third-party servicer also provides greater flexibility in the financial aid and student services office to work with students on non-Title IV aid issues, while Weber is working on the Title IV aid processing and disbursing. A third-party servicer like Weber also ensures that all Title IV aid guidelines are being followed and is able to provide information on how the school can stay compliant for their areas of responsibility.

Service costs are based upon a small monthly fee for the services in which an institution participates, plus processing fees for work completed during the immediate past month. Each institution’s costs are based upon that institution’s participation in the various federal programs and the number of students aided. Basically, fees are assessed monthly and are based upon an institution’s usage. It has always been the philosophy of the service that a small monthly fee would accompany a small amount of aid processed that month and a larger monthly statement would be accompanied by a larger amount of aid process and a larger amount of federal funds received by the institution that month. A detailed and customized proposal based upon the projected programs in which your institution participates and the number of projected students to be processed can be supplied.

Weber manages financial assistance programs including online delivery systems in 35 states and manages student loan systems for American citizens attending institutions in seven foreign locations. Weber currently services institutions in Hawaii, Alaska, Canada, Dubai, Singapore, London and Poland. The patented VFAO system is ideal for serving students and institutions worldwide.

We customize the solution for the institution and do both. Weber provides both advice and guidance on internal best practices for Title IV financial aid, and Weber also (for certain service offerings) handles the eligibility review, verification, awarding and disbursing to the school of federal Title IV funds.

Specific Solution Items

The Weber staff is dedicated to compliance with federal regulations in every process taken in the management of federal student aid assistance. This includes the work we perform as well as the advice we provide. The Federal Student Handbook is our guide every step of the way.

Weber does not handle any money. All funds requested are sent directly to the institution’s federal funds account, and all refunded money is sent directly to COD. Weber does monthly reconciliations and balances all records with COD/G-5 and well as reconciling the DSLAS reports for the Federal Direct Loan Program.

If the institution has met the basic requirements, yes. The basic requirements are 1) approval by the state licensing board; 2) accreditation or candidacy for accreditation by an approved accrediting agency; and 3) If the institution is a not-for-profit entity, an IRS ( c ) ( 3 ) letter will be required. The institution will also be required to have audited financial statements for the past two years done in a GAGAS format. The Weber team guides institutions through the entire process from application to providing instructions on USDE requirements to providing sample policies, and helps the school every step of the way.

Weber does reporting where the service has the information. These reports include reporting Federal Pell originations and Federal Direct Loan originations to COD, reconciling SLAS reports for Federal Direct Loans, balancing disbursements with COD and G-5, reporting to COD refunds made by the institution and, where applicable, completing the annual FISAP. Weber also provides the Student Update Report Exchange (SURE), which feeds information of student status changes to NSLDS. Reports not handled by Weber include the IPEDS Report and the Cleary Act Security Report.

Yes, Weber has a detailed list of all expenses associated with running a financial aid office. That report is available on request.

Institutions contracted with Weber to use the patented Virtual Financial Aid Office (VFAO) will have the benefit of the VFAO office communicating with the student via e-mail.

There is no software that needs to be purchased in order to be a Weber client, regardless of service offering. Weber’s processes are web-based, so they can be accessed at any time from any place and are not dependent on software updates and support.

Weber has extensive security systems in place to protect all institution and student data from intrusion. All data is actively backed up, and dual systems are running to protect from loss of data.

The Weber team assists the institution with responding to audit findings and where there may have been an error which requires action Weber provides detailed assistance.

The Weber team is proactive in assisting the institution with student eligibility and, in the case of the Virtual Financial Aid Office (VFAO), provides online estimates of aid availability.

Please see above “Can Weber help our institution apply for Title IV funding?”

No charges are assessed when providing regulatory research or advising the institution of any regulatory requirements.

All reconciliations are done on regular basis and at least monthly.

Yes, all necessary documentation regarding Weber processes is prepared for the institution prior to the audit or review and is sent to the institution in a secure manner. We do ask for one-week notice to prepare the documents in a secure manner, unless the need is caused by a walk-in review (which is rare).

Institutions contracted to use the patented Virtual Financial Aid Office (VFAO) system use the VFAO online interview system, whereby students can complete the interview online from wherever they have access to a browser. Everything normally done in an on-campus interview is included. Examples of information included in the interview are: student demographic information, estimates of aid available based upon the student’s EFC, the student’s request for loans, the student loan Entrance Interview, and estimated repayment charts. The interview is preserved as part of the student’s digital financial aid file.

The Weber team follows federal regulation regarding every action taken on behalf of the institution. Our federal regulation experts and managers consistently train the staff on regulatory processes and updates.

Each Weber representative works with new staff members to train them on compliance regulations, plus a monthly newsletter is sent to apprise of important regulatory issues and new requirements. It should be noted that Weber does not assess charges for training, regulatory research or advice. Every spring Weber sends trainers to four sites throughout the country to conduct regulatory training and new regulation updates.

Yes to both issues. For when an institution receives notice of a review, refer a publish article titled “Protecting Your Institution When a U.S. Department of Education Program Review Team Visits Your Institution—And Eventually They Will.” Once a review has been completed, the Weber management team works to assist the institution in responding to the program review.

Next Steps

Contact us to discuss your latest challenges, ideas for expansion, requirement from the Department of Education, tips for increasing financial aid management efficiencies.

We can also share with you, a demo of the VFAO service with you as well as information about selecting a third party financial aid management service.

We have so many more resources for you so lets have a conversation.

Phone: (864) 675-9038 
Toll-Free: (888) 857-8690
Fax: (864) 331-2929

info@weberassociatesinc.com