Office of Financial Assistance Human Resources and Information Technology, Catawba College

A Study in Work-Study
University Business, April 2012
Catawba College

Students have enough on their plates without having to worry about properly receiving their work-study hours from their financial aid packages. But, paper time cards and siloed systems were making life difficult for students and staff alike at Catawba College (N.C.).

The financial aid office was determining the awards and tracking hours. Human resources staff were managing the payroll aspect. And the paper time cards students filled out were being passed back and forth. “There was a lot of double entry,” says Joanna Jasper, chief information officer. Since everything was done on paper, students had to contact the Financial Aid office whenever they wanted to check their balance. “It was a pretty clunky process,” she says.

Things fell into place when institutional leaders implemented Banner from SunGard Higher Education. “There was integration between financial aid and HR, which we didn’t have with our legacy system,” Jasper explains.

Now, although both offices are still involved, the workflow is seamless and online. The use of online training guides and one in-person session quickly got everyone on board with the new system.

Once students enter their hours, their supervisors can approve them and HR automatically picks them up, eliminating the need to rekey the information.

Additionally, a work-study channel within the campus CatLink portal allows students to track their hours without needing to call anyone.

The system also makes it easier for administrators to track work-study budget utilization. “Prior to this system, there was a total budget for work study and students were paid out of a centralized budget. You might have 20 students working for the public relations office and five for IT, but there was no report showing where the budget was being used. Now there are reports,” Jasper relates.

In addition to better budget tracking, other benefits realized include: freeing up .5 staff FTE in the financial aid office from no longer tracking award hours and fielding phone calls; saving 40 hours per month in the payroll office from no longer keying the time cards; and saving the annual $15,000 cost of the dedicated payroll system. Overall, having 10,000 less time cards annually equals cost-savings and a greener campus.