Welcome to FAS’ Consulting Corner! In conjunction with launching our new website, we want to use this space to share relevant information with financial aid and student business services practitioners. It’s a safe and reliable place to get the latest news on what’s happening in financial aid and student finance all around the country. We’ll tackle issues from maintaining rigorous compliance standards and leveraging technology, to giving your students the best possible experience. Our consultants are thought leaders with a combined 1,600 years of experience in their respective fields. Higher Education is an industry that’s always in motion. There is always something new to talk about, so check back often. We’re adding fresh content all the time. Whether you’re considering services, need guidance or resources, or just want to connect with FAS, we’ve got something for you.
https://www.financialaidservices.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/Consulting-Corner-team.png 788 940 Ken Garrett /wp-content/uploads/2022/08/FAS-logo-web.png Ken Garrett2022-09-30 14:13:352022-09-30 14:24:51Welcome to FAS’ Consulting Corner
https://www.financialaidservices.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/financial-education-puzzle-pieces.png 670 934 Ken Garrett /wp-content/uploads/2022/08/FAS-logo-web.png Ken Garrett2022-07-22 12:40:192022-09-30 14:26:37Financial Literacy – An Essential Part of Student Success
Providing students and their families with the skills and tools to understand personal finance and money management has largely fallen to colleges and universities. While fourteen states have enacted legislation mandating personal finance training in high school, more than two-thirds of the country still lacks any formal training or education programs for students or parents.
Many people don’t know where to turn for guidance or direction when they need assistance in completing a FAFSA to apply for financial aid, how to save for college or use payment plans to help finance an education, or even how to create a budget. Both traditional students and older adults returning to school often seek out resources to figure out how to pay for college and, later, to repay their student loans.
By default, colleges have become the last resort for acquiring this knowledge. Identifying and managing financial issues has become a key element in the recruitment and retention of students. Admissions recruiters, financial aid counselors, and student account representatives often are thrust into roles as financial counselors, even if their own knowledge is lacking. With a glut of available information on how to pay for a college education and limited resources to digest and disseminate the data, staff may be ill-equipped to offer time-consuming counseling to students and families while trying to deal with the other aspects of onboarding and maintaining enrollments.
Best practice institutions have developed separate offices to assist students with financial wellness education or have partnered with firms that provide web-based programs and knowledge-driven modules to help them learn the various aspects of personal finance, from student loans and credit cards to budgeting and credit scores.
Institutions need to have an executive sponsor for these programs and place ownership under a single office or group of individuals who will prioritize providing access to personal finance programs and resources.
If an institution does not want to create a separate department, financial wellness programs could be hosted by numerous departments, including but are not limited to financial aid, bursar or student financial services, enrollment management, career services, housing, new student orientation, and dean of students. Admissions, alumni relations and development offices help maximize program exposure and provide a value-added service for prospective and former students and interested parties.
Because students often are more comfortable talking with their peers, a program that incorporates trained student employees to share financial information can help build trust and confidence while also building a triage process to determine when counselors or other full-time staff need to handle more complex issues.
Providing a well-rounded education for today’s students requires a holistic approach to helping them achieve personal success, both now and tomorrow. Offering financial wellness resources will not only help students reach their personal goals – it also may give them the tools to pay their bills in full and on time!
https://www.financialaidservices.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/case-study-modern.png 433 783 Ken Garrett /wp-content/uploads/2022/08/FAS-logo-web.png Ken Garrett2018-11-06 12:22:072022-09-30 12:26:47VCFA and FAS: A Well-Oiled Financial Aid Machine
Nestled on a hill overlooking picturesque Montpelier, Vermont College of Fine Arts (VCFA) offers artists and writers a transformative, progressive graduate education experience through its master of fine arts programs and unique master of arts program in art and design education. In 2008, VCFA acquired its historic Vermont College campus and three master of fine arts programs from Union Institute & University in Cincinnati, which had owned the campus since 2001. After the transaction, VCFA turned to FAS to administer its student financial aid.
“We never had a stationary moment since we became independent,” said VCFA Controller/Bursar Katie Gustafson. “It’s an incredibly dynamic place, whether we’re adding new programs for our 360 students or starting a fund raising campaign to renovate our buildings.” The college signed its first contract with FAS in 2008 to help implement its own financial aid process. Gustafson noted that for a period of time, the college had discussed bringing its financial aid in-house. “But as FAS and VCFA grew together, we saw that students were incredibly well-served,” she said.
“FAS is very good at decreasing the stress level among students and helping them understand how financial aid works.”
FAS Manager of Full Service Wanda McLaughlin and FAS Client Services Manager Daphne Parks worked closely with Gustafson to provide comprehensive financial aid remote processing. “Everything they do is so efficient,” said Gustafson. “We’ve had clean compliance audits every year, and it doesn’t get any better than that.” Every year, the trio reviews and tweaks processes to make sure that everything is working well. “We have a well-oiled machine,” Gustafson said. “While we are different from any other school, FAS’s willingness to engage with us in our culture is admirable. I think that’s what the broad FAS mission is all about. Any school would be smart to consider working with FAS, but nobody can have Wanda or Daphne!”
https://www.financialaidservices.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/case-study-modern.png 433 783 Ken Garrett /wp-content/uploads/2022/08/FAS-logo-web.png Ken Garrett2018-10-18 12:07:112022-09-30 12:07:38FAS Helps Boost Student Satisfaction at NOVA
With more than 75,000 students and six campuses, Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) is the largest education institution in Virginia and the second largest in the U.S. NOVA is also one of the country’s most diverse colleges, with a student body consisting of individuals from more than 180 countries. For the past four years, NOVA’s financial aid office has been in a restructuring mode to better manage its double-digit growth in student enrollment and a dollar amount of financial aid that has tripled since 2008.
To serve students more effectively, NOVA contracted for a 24/7 call center, hired additional staff and reorganized its reporting structure. After working with a consultant, the college had not found the comprehensive support it needed with trained support people in one place to make sure everything was being done accurately and thoroughly. “We turned to FAS because it offered the whole package – professionalism, long-time experience in the business, a solid reputation and moderate cost,” said Director of Financial Aid Joan Zanders, a 26-year financial aid veteran. “We brought in FAS to provide analysis and file verification because we were not able to process the applications that came in during the summer peak season,” she said.
Zanders says the “domino effect” from working with FAS has positively impacted student enrollment at NOVA. “We are able to process more financial aid in a timely manner,” she said. “Because of the volume of work, federal regulations, and multiple reports related to the verification piece, we would have had to hire a whole lot more additional staff to keep all the balls in the air,” she said. “We have a close working relationship with FAS, including weekly recalls and status reports. We talk through issues and develop solutions.” Zanders is proud that a recent survey showed that 95 percent of NOVA students were satisfied with their financial aid service. Her office was ranked in the top five of all college offices for student satisfaction. “This doesn’t happen very often in financial aid,” she said. “FAS is extremely professional, and I can’t think of a better partner.”