Fine-tuning financial aid
It wasn’t long ago that most of what went on behind the scenes at Oklahoma Christian University (OC) was paper-based and cumbersome. This was a particular concern when it came to Student Financial Services, especially the financial aid award processes. Students were clamoring to receive their scholarships and financial aid faster. They also expected, thanks to their own technological savvy, to be able to submit and track their applications online.
Realizing they needed to meet students’ expectations, OC’s Director of Student Financial Services, Clint LaRue, collaborated with Vice President of Information Technology John Hermes, to find a way to move the department into the 21st century and provide better customer service.
By implementing Laserfiche enterprise content management (ECM) software, Student Financial Services was able to streamline processes, speed up evaluations, disburse awards in a timely manner, and improve tracking and reporting. Additionally, processes became more transparent to students, while document security was improved.
Prior to implementing this strategy, paper submission forms were received through the mail, manually entered and managed. Now these forms are submitted, tracked, and managed electronically. Staff can also upload documents and forms to the campus’ myOC portal.
“If I needed to send out a big batch of award letters before, they were printed, copied, mailed, and filed. When I understood that Laserfiche could send those letters to the students’ electronic files with the click of a button, that was a big ‘a-ha’ moment for me,” LaRue explains.
Students can view and complete financial aid documents online and can then electronically sign and submit them. Laserfiche Workflow automatically classifies the documents, routing them to the appropriate financial aid officer.
Counselors can access student records through their familiar Datatel system (now known as Ellucian), which is integrated with Laserfiche. A Laserfiche Quick Fields session then enables staff to populate additional template fields and approve the documents within Datatel. Without leaving Datatel, records can be archived in Laserfiche and automatically updated on the student’s myOC portal.
Hermes initially projected a cost savings to the financial aid office of around $23,000. Instead, the improvements were so significant that the department realized $31,000 of hard savings in less than two years.
But perhaps the biggest benefit has come from being able to give students real-time access to documents and quick online feedback about their application status—this has proven “invaluable,” says LaRue.