“If I attend UNC, what Financial Aid package will I receive?” It’s a question that’s always remained unanswered for students and their families for a week, month or more after they receive their admission offer. That’s about to change thanks to a process improvement project led by The Office of Scholarships and Student Aid in collaboration with ITS Enterprise Applications. One of the primary objectives of the project is to make financial aid package information available to prospective students at the same time as they are offered admission. An equally important objective is to automate the processes for packaging financial aid as much as possible.
Getting information for prospective students earlier, combined with automating routine work, will give the Enrollment and Scholarships and Student Aid staff more time to focus on their core mission: to help advise students and families so they can have a full Carolina experience and successfully complete graduation. The significant benefits of this project for the University were noted by Rachelle Feldman, Interim Vice Provost of Enrollment and Undergraduate Admissions and Associate Provost for Scholarships and Student Aid:
“I think this will be one of the most important and transformative technology projects, affecting students and student aid, that we have done. The process improvements will allow our staff to focus on issues that are more complex and require human expertise and empathy, rather than performing rote and repetitive work that the system can accomplish with a high degree of accuracy. This will lead to both a better student experience and more job satisfaction for staff. I also believe there has been added value in having additional staff in ITS understand the functional complexity, issues, and requirements for administering scholarships and financial aid. I expect we will find more ways to use the automation created here to improve service and provide flexible and creative support over the coming years, as we continue our partnership with ITS.”
Completed Process Improvements
Among the time-saving new processes that are currently available are the ability to:
- Show financial aid information to students in ConnectCarolina with their offer of admission
- Make information more easily available in ConnectCarolina for financial aid processors that leads to improved efficiency and decreased likelihood of mistakes by tying together multiple PeopleSoft pages used in the maintenance of financial aid data, making it easier to access with less navigation.
- Automate a series of steps that financial aid staff have to take each year to prepare and budget before financial aid packaging can begin.
Process Improvement Changes on the Horizon
Among the time-saving new processes that will be implemented over the next few months are:
- Automating the steps in packaging financial aid
- Automating the steps for re-budgeting and repackaging that are required each time a change is made to a student’s financial aid package. Because financial aid staff won’t have to manually re-do a package, students may see their updated package sooner.
- Modifying the interface between Slate and ConnectCarolina to allow Slate Forms to share information related to requests for unsubsidized loans, work study or senior overload so it can flow through and trigger automated re-packaging.
- Implement the interface to the National Student Loan Data System so that we can load national aggregated loan data and process re-packaging as appropriate.