Speed up Financial Aid Decisions and Help More Students with an Automated Solution
Higher education is an extremely competitive industry. Students are applying to more colleges than ever before in hopes of being able to have a wide range of options and to choose the one that best meets their needs. With the cost of a college education rising each year—the class of 2015 graduated with an average of $35,000 in debt—a student’s decision of where she will go is as much a financial decision as it is an academic one. It’s no surprise that these days, most students aren’t just looking to find the best degree program or the nicest campus—they’re also looking for the best deal.
Colleges understand this, which is why nearly all of them have an entire department dedicated to financial aid. This department is responsible for providing students accurate data about the cost of attendance, helping them understand their financial aid options, and processing applications for financial aid. With a majority of students using financial aid to help fund their education, the role a school’s financial aid department plays in the application and enrollment process can’t be understated.
The process of gathering student information to determine their financial aid award can be time-consuming if schools aren’t utilizing automation tools. Along with the financial aid application, schools have to also access other student information in order to make an informed decision about their financial aid eligibility. These might include academic transcripts, essays, federal financial aid forms and other documents. Without an organized, centralized system that allows for the easy search and retrieval of student data, this process can be extremely tedious. That can be a real problem when it comes time for students to decide which school they will attend. If your school has slow turnaround times on financial aid decisions, you may be losing out on potential students who are choosing to enroll at schools that are able to quickly send them a financial aid offer. Another issue with these time-consuming processes is that they take financial aid employees away from important tasks like helping to resolve student issues, which can negatively impact a school’s favorability.
Document automation is the solution to this problem. Financial aid departments need to be able to access all of a student’s files quickly, without having to dig through paper documents or search through an unorganized abyss of digital files to find them. Moreover, they need to be able to quickly extract information from applications and supporting documents to verify student eligibility, then determine what aid package to offer certain students based on set criteria.
The first essential step in the automation process for financial aid departments is document capture and data extraction. With PSIcapture, incoming financial aid applications can be auto-imported into the capture queue. From there, documents can be automatically classified and a database lookup can be run to match the application with any existing files on record for that particular student. PSIcapture can automatically extract the relevant data from the application. If the information needs to be verified, this can be quickly and efficiently done through PSIGEN’s browser-based indexing tool, PSIfusion. Administrators can securely view the processed applications from virtually any device, run database lookups directly from PSIfusion to locate any missing information, and verify accuracy before routing the application to the content management system. From there, the student’s application can be viewed along with all of the other supporting materials needed to make a decision about their financial aid award.
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