Financial Aid Office Assessment
Vision and Mission Statement
We remove financial barriers to higher education through exceptional student experience.
Using our financial aid expertise, we empower students to afford college by our:
We focus on the needs of our diverse student population to help them feel confident and hopeful in their financial choices, as an important part of their success at USU.
We take a proactive and innovative approach to ensure positive interactions that lead to efficient, accurate, and timely resolutions.
We support our teams’ development through collaborative, productive, and meaningful work opportunities.
Goals and Learning Outcomes:
To assist in reaching our stated mission, the Financial Aid Office will:
- Provide accurate, timely service to students.
- Maintain compliance with federal law.
- Train staff to meet changing demands.
- Publicize aid opportunities and serve as a resource to campus and the larger community.
- Promote professional development and remain abreast of industry changes and best practices.
The Financial Aid Office adheres to the requirements of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (as amended), the regulations and guidance issued by the US Department of Education, and the guidelines established by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA).
- Higher Education Act of 1965
- Code of Federal Regulations – 34 CFR Part 600 to Part 679
- Code of Federal Regulations – 34 CFR Part 680 to Part 699
- Federal Student Aid Handbook
- Statement of Ethical Principles & Code of Conduct for Financial Aid Professionals
(Objectives and Learning Outcomes)
|Increase our office’s participation in state, regional, and national professional association activities and trainings.||Track number of employees attending or participating in association events and conferences.||Program information or registration data.|
|Thoroughly evaluate exit counseling process and our compliance with federal requirements. Implement revisions as necessary||FSA Handbook, NASFAA materials, best practices from other schools||Argos reports, Banner data and processes, individual student files, and FSA Handbook.|
|Conduct a feasibility study on the creation of an authenticated student message system for financial aid-related questions and communications.||Evaluation of ServiceNow and its functionality, paired with interviews of office staff and student focus group to define requirements.||Employees and current student feedback, as well as documentation of business requirements and testing.|
|Carefully scrutinize how we deal with SAR C codes that require institutional resolution. Make revisions as necessary, focusing on student experience.||Evaluation of current processes in Banner and CampusLogic, including timeliness and content of student messaging.||Argos reports, CampusLogic and Banner data, as well as resources from the Department of Education.|
|Implement new strategies for managing cohort default rate and reaching out to support at-risk students and drive appropriate corrective action.||Review of former students and risk factors, as well as best practices from other schools and industry leaders.||Carefully track student responses to our efforts and resulting action to avoid default.|
|Evaluate and refine awarding process, including removing supplemental requirements, reducing manual adjustments, and automating summer process.||Review of current procedures, system processes, and areas that currently require manual intervention (looking for areas of opportunity for automation and simplification).||Data from Banner and Argos reports, as well as interviews with counselors and identifying best practices at other institutions.|
Please see the documents below for historical data measuring office effectiveness. They include total aid disbursed each year since 2004-05, as well as the summary from our most recent student satisfaction survey (conducted in October 2016) and our most recent Self Study Report.
The Financial Aid office has implemented a number of changes to better serve our students and keep pace with federal requirements:
- Partnered with CampusLogic, bringing the verification process, as well as the gathering of other required documentation, online for students and parents.
- Addressed conflicting data between 2016-17 and 2017-18 FAFSA data, as required by the US Department of Education.
- Completely revamped our office website to be more intuitive and user-friendly.
- Realigned alphabet queues to major/department assignments for counselors to better utilize resources and improve service.
- Implemented Appointment Manager/Calendly, allowing students to schedule their own appointments with a Financial Aid Counselor.
- Increased proactive communications to students in an effort to anticipate and resolve problems early.
- Awarded crossover Pell Grant funds during summer in preparation for the implementation of year-round Pell Grants to benefit our students.
- Brought default management efforts back in-house to allow for more strategic efforts suited to the needs of our former students.
- Hired additional student employees to better manage workload and student outreach efforts.
- Increased the flexbility of our satisfactory academic policy.
- Divided office into counseling, system, and operation teams.
- Added chat feature to website for general questions
- Moved all appointments online, phone, or in-person, for student safety and convenience.