Howard College – a community college serving a diverse student body in the West Texas areas of Big Spring, Texas with campuses in San Angelo, Lamesa and Southwest College for the Deaf – needed a way to streamline, automate and centrally manage its student financial aid verification process.
The institution’s financial aid department’s goal was to implement software that could be accessed online, using real-time data to serve all students across all four of its campus locations. It also sought to decrease verification errors and time spent verifying files. Howard College’s financial aid department was short staffed, but they knew the right software could help them increase efficiently to be able to process the verification files in a timely manner.
The Tech Decision
After becoming aware of Anthology’s deep knowledge of higher education financial aid processes and regulations, stellar reputation for account support and purpose-built software, Howard College selected Anthology (formerly Campus Management) and its Student Verification solution to meet their goals.
Anthology’s Student Verification portal allowed employees to access data remotely regardless of their location. Before the implementation, some employees were not able to access the Ed Connect mailbox from other campuses. The solution eliminated the need for employees to bring paper files back and forth from campuses to audit.
Howard College continues to benefit from Anthology’s Student Verification solution by helping students and staff navigate the crucial and sometimes tenuous world of financial aid verification. Smoothly connecting to Howard College’s student information system and offering a straightforward setup, Anthology Student Verification simplifies and manages workflows to keep Howard’s students focused on learning and staff focused on allocating aid.
Howard College deployed Anthology’s Student Verification solution, which helps reduce the stress of financial aid processes for institutions and their students. Howard College’s experience with their implementation was very positive, as Anthology was accommodating of their timeline and evolving business needs.
How Howard College Benefits from Anthology’s Student Verification solution
Anthology Student Verification reduced operational costs by streamlining the financial aid verification process for staff with real-time dashboards, automated document storage and dynamic document requirement triggers.
With a secure student portal, real-time status bar and convenient communications through email and text, students benefit from an easy process so they can keep their attention on tackling their coursework.
By improving the financial aid process through Student Verification, Howard College is actively helping to improve student retention; students quickly gain access to their aid, enabling them to pay for books and fees and stay on top of their coursework.
The solution provides Howard College comfort in knowing they are compliant with regulations as Student Verification is ED compliant, enables C-flag and comment codes as part of the rules engine, and provides an audit trail for all activities.
Key benefits include:
- Automating and ensuring compliance for the financial aid verification process
- Reducing stress on staff for compliance issues
- Supporting multi-award year selection and review
- Streamlining mobile student experiences
- Verification review and approval, comment codes and professional judgements
- Built-in comparison and verification to enable ISIR review
Howard College & Anthology Eases Student Experiences
With the help of Anthology Student Verification, Howard College has significantly decreased financial aid error rates. The mailbox feature in particular has corrected an audit issue that Howard College had for over 10 years. The college has not had any audit findings since its implementation.
The response time for students submitting their required documents has decreased substantially due to electronic submissions. Eliminating manual processes has saved Howard College thousands of dollars in printing and postage costs.
They have also seen major improvements in student satisfaction surveys, as 85% of students reported that they know what to do once they filled out the FAFSA. Processing times have improved as 89% of students reported they received their award in a timely manner, and 88% reported that the Financial Aid department was easy to work with.
As part of the implementation, Howard College launched mobile-friendly options including text messaging to communicate regarding financial aid, which has greatly improved their response time for required documents. And with rising needs for virtual advising, students have appreciated more self-service financial aid options.
The overall student experience is less stressful as they submit their documents online while waiting for advising to sign up for classes rather than waiting in line for advising, and then waiting in line again to visit financial aid to submit documents.
Anthology Student Verification has helped Howard College’s financial aid department transition into a flexible environment. As a result, employees can continue to work from home and continue to process documents electronically without requiring students to meet face-to- face.