Financial Aid Forms Framework

Cedar Hills Group, Inc. was contracted to analyze, recommend and implement a streamlined solution to a paper-based Financial Aid (FA) business process for National University. The FA department was using a combination of paper-based forms and an outdated electronic system. Prior to this project, the legacy system was only collecting data for a very small percentage of the forms that could be required for a student to receive financial aid.

Chris Malek led the project, working closely with directors, subject matter experts, and front-line advisors. After several prototypes, iterations and design meetings, a solution was designed and implemented to drastically increase productivity and remove paper from the process.

  • We created a “Financial Aid Forms Framework” within PeopleSoft that allows new forms to be created by a Subject Matter Expert with no help from technical staff. The functional experts can add, update, and remove forms with only a web browser.
  • We replaced a cumbersome and unreliable third party system that was only a 10% solution to the business process and reduced licensing costs to the university significantly. The implemented solution was folded into the PeopleSoft database and ended up being a 95% solution to the paper-based process with no additional licensing costs and minimal upgrade concerns.
  • The PeopleSoft bolt-on was designed to work exactly within the department’s current business process and policies, thus allowing for faster adoption of the project.
  • The student facing pages allowed for a simple “dashboard” by aid year where students could quickly see their form submission history and quickly find the status of any needed forms for the open aid years.

This project was arguably one of the most successful projects Chris Malek has ever worked on.

  • The project was implemented over several phases. The first two phases of the project implemented 90% of the functionality and was rolled out in matter of months after the initial design phase.
  • Those phases provided a drastic increase in turn around time for the Financial Aid Department. In the previous process, the paper forms could take weeks to get back. In the new electronic system, an Aid Counselor could request forms from a student and then receive the electronically submitted forms from an applicant in minutes. This process improvement resulted in significant cost savings and productivity gains as well as happier students.
  • Additionally, no developer coding was required to create new forms. The form creation and maintenance was all handed off to the department owners. After the project went live, the department started to see over 20,000 forms submitted in an aid year and configured over 60 forms per aid year all without the help of the IT department and very few bug reports.

We were extremely pleased with the outcome of this project.