Adams State U. uses tech to improve financial aid processes
- Starting this fall, students at Adams State University in Alamosa, CO, will begin receiving personalized digital letters that will help to simplify and clarify the financial aid process, including the amount of aid and the conditions of different awards. The letters, which will include embedded resources and videos, will help students make more informed decisions about their financial aid options.
- The new program is a joint initiative between the university and CampusLogic, and will be especially beneficial because the institution has one of the highest percentages of Pell grant recipients of Colorado's four-year institutions; according to school, more than 90% of students receive some kind of aid.
- Karla Hardesty, the executive director for enrollment management at the university, said the letters will help students more "clearly understand the investment they are making in their future." The resources included will help explain some of the more inscrutable terms and concepts included, and university staff will benefit from getting real-time updates on how engaged students are in the financial aid process.
The financial aid process can be burdensome for students, and a cumbersome process may inadvertently shrink the potential pool of applicants for colleges and universities if students decide that they are unable to deal with the convoluted steps that must be taken. It is extremely important for higher ed institutions to ensure they have the adequate staff to track student engagement throughout the process, and also to ensure that their staff has the expertise to know what to look for, in terms of signs that students may not be accessing the information that could be beneficial.
Colleges and universities should also consider how to conduct outreach on the accessibility of their financial aid opportunities, as well as the ease of understanding and completing the process, on social media and other digital platforms. Students are increasingly attracted to institutions based on cost, with a recent report finding that students in the United States consider the affordability of their postsecondary education to be a chief stressor, and this is particularly pertinent for students who qualify for Pell grants. Many first-generation students, as well as students from families with lower incomes, reported in a survey earlier this year that they often find out about colleges and universities first through social media, so institutions must ensure their financial aid options and process are part of that marketing strategy.