Technology inevitably changes most fields. It enables new approaches, speeds up processes and eliminates outmoded tasks. In the case of financial aid and student services, however, technology does much more than streamline day-to-day operations and improve efficiency in college and university offices.
Innovations in higher ed technology are allowing more students to spend less money to go to college. Tech solutions are keeping student data safe. Schools utilizing new ed tech are improving college access for more students. These improvements in higher ed will yield a generation of successful young people who are more educated and less burdened by debt. Sound too good to be true? Well, it isn’t.
Below are several examples of how technological advancement is positively benefiting higher ed student services, and therefore, the students who rely on them.
Technology Saves Time That Financial Aid Officers Can Devote to Students.
Financial aid software such as StudentVerification allows students to manage all their verification documents and steps through one secure, online portal that they can access from anywhere. Using StudentVerification, students can communicate with their schools, receive messages and notifications that documents are due, and easily verify their financial aid. The software-as-a-service (SaaS) also offers financial aid professionals a ready-made audit trail so they can spend less time worrying about documentation later.
Mobile Check-in Increases the Chances Students Will Make and Keep Appointments.
Schools such as Fullerton College are now utilizing technologies such as QLess, which facilitates getting in line…virtually. Instead of physically appearing at their school’s financial aid office, students whose schools employ this type of technology can “queue up” online. They simply enter their information from cell phones, kiosks or the web and then receive a call or text message when it’s almost their turn. This type of advancement makes it more likely that students will follow through with the appointments crucial to their higher education success.
Video Tutorials Educate and Limit Financial Aid Misunderstanding.
No one ever said it is easy to apply for financial aid. Unfortunately, difficult paperwork and missed deadlines account for droves of students missing out on financial aid or college altogether. Several schools, such as Penn State, have decided to combat this problem with video tutorials that explain their financial aid process in the hopes that this will help new students get and keep educational funding.
Technology Boosts Enrollment by Minimizing Application Losses.
Let’s face it: young adults aren’t the most organized bunch. Sadly, a “lost” award letter could mean the difference between a student attending college and staying home. AwardLetter delivers award information to students in a fast, secure, online manner, so it is less likely the good news will slip through the cracks. AwardLetter can also link to video tutorials and other clarifying information to help students understand their awards. This ups the chances students will borrow responsibly and get their education.
Technological Integration Reduces Time Spent on Paperwork and Processing.
Most schools utilize systems such as CampusVue to automate eligibility processes, financial aid processing, payment posting, Title IV compliance and more. However, many financial aid offices are still half and half; they use a student information system (SIS) but complete many aid processes by hand requiring students to come into the office. Financial aid departments would benefit from switching manual processes like verification over to an automated, self-service system. This not only cuts costs and saves time, it also significantly improves the student experience.
New ed tech is often daunting at first, but once integrated into your normal routines, they become helpful time-savers that can encourage student attendance, increase enrollment, streamline office functions and generally improve higher education workflow.