Cuesta College Enjoys Mobile FinAid

Cuesta College Reduces FinAid Processing Time by 89%

“We had a problem, that was clear,” says Patrick Scott, Director of Financial Aid at Cuesta College in California. “Staffing issues, unstandardized processes, a paper-based, manual approach—it was a horrible, expensive game of mail tag that added up to really long wait times for students.” It also impacted funding for the community college with an enrollment of 10,000+.

An Advocate for Change

Cuesta’s biggest advocate for change: their new Dean of Student Services Catherine Riedstra. “She was visionary,” explains Scott. “She said ‘we can fix this. Let’s find the solution.’” Scott’s team identified student verification as one of their biggest hurdles, and set out to find ways to streamline. Cuesta’s average packaging time for a student going through verification was 80 days; non-verification students were packaged in roughly 60 days. Riedstra suggested the team explore CampusLogic, who she first heard about at the FSA Conference.

To Win Over Cuesta, CampusLogic Had to:

  • Keep control of the verification process in-house
  • Streamline the process
  • Make it easy for students to provide information
  • Require minimal staff training for Cuesta
  • Be fast to implement
  • Offer competitive pricing

The CampusLogic Platform

StudentForms—part of the CampusLogic financial aid engagement platform—simplifies FinAid processes (verification, professional judgments, SAP appeals) by making FinAid forms easy, mobile, and personalized. Driven by ISIR logic, StudentForms offers a digital portal to manage tasks, workflow-driven file review, auto-indexed documents, automated student communications via text and email, and secure doc upload from any phone.

Changing Minds

The team was concerned CampusLogic would be hard to learn, too tech-based, too tedious. “When you’ve been doing something the same way for years, change can be tough—and daunting.” Scott invited everyone on his team to the demo of StudentForms. “When they saw that verifying a student record could happen in anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour, they were sold.”

A Better Student Experience

Once live with CampusLogic, Scott saw a massive impact to the student experience, almost immediately. “I used to clear 50+ voicemails when I got in, and we dealt with huge lines out the door,” he explains. “Now we answer phone calls real-time, and if ONE person is sitting in a chair waiting I get worried.”

Key to the reduction in call volumes and in-person visits: Cuesta enabled text-alert notifications (for those who opted-in) and automated email reminders to students. “We used to do all of this back and forth through the mail before, how ridiculous is that?” Scott estimates CampusLogic reduced Cuesta’s legwork to get necessary documents from students by 75%. Staff funnel their saved time into FinAid efforts such as outreach and default prevention.

Cuesta’s CampusLogic Performance Wins

  • Reduced verification processing from 80 days to 9 days for verified files.
  • Improved awarding speed: 600+ PELL grants awarded as of May 2016
  • 1,102 student accounts created, to date
  • 454 verifications completed
  • Average turnaround time for receiving parents’ e-signature: 31 hours

Enrollment and Retention Benefits

“It’s an amazing price point for the transformation we’ve been seeing in our office,” says Scott who notes the benefits extend to enrollment as well. “Enrollment is fighting for every student they can get. Packaging awards earlier puts a student ahead of the game, because they can start planning.” And when students can plan earlier, the more likely they are to show up and retain into the next semester.

Better Work Environment, Competitive Pricing

With improved workloads for staff, Scott feels Cuesta’s FinAid office has become a cozier, more comfortable place to work. “And CampusLogic was certainly a factor in that,” he says. “The thing that makes us cry with happiness is the validation with the forms. It’s funny because I think back to the ridiculously tedious excel sheets and lists we kept before… and I shake my head.”

What Cuesta Loves Most About StudentForms

  • Improved efficiencies realized
  • Auto-signature functionality
  • Reporting dashboards and custom reports

Cuesta’s CampusLogic Experience in Three Words

  • Efficient
  • Productive
  • Easy

About Cuesta College

  • Founded: 1963
  • Modalities: Ground-based and online
  • Enrollment: 10,400
  • Students receiving financial aid: 60%
  • Average verifications per year: 1,300
  • Student Information System: Banner (Ellucian)
  • Imaging System: X-tender/ BDMS
  • Challenge: Paper-based FinAid office needing to streamline
  • Solution: CampusLogic’s StudentForms
Download the Case Study

 

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