What Does Financial Aid Management Software Do?

Financial aid software for higher education helps financial aid offices automate their processes, eliminating hours of manual paperwork and making it easier for staff to get personalized financial aid offers into student hands quickly.

Financial Aid Management Software

Post-secondary education is expensive, and financial aid makes it possible for many students to earn degrees. Offering financial aid also allows institutions to extend their reach, casting a wider net and making it more feasible to meet increasingly difficult enrollment goals. Generally, institutions offering student financial aid do so in a variety of ways—grants, loans, work-study programs, and scholarships. But as important as financial aid is to student and institutional success, getting it into students’ hands is rarely a simple process.

For students, obtaining financial aid involves the complicated task of filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. The FAFSA can include more than 100 questions with pages upon pages of jargon-ridden directions. Filling it out often requires the participation of both students and parents (as household finances can be involved in assessing student need).

For colleges and universities, creating financial aid offers involves a great deal of work: coordinating with departments across campus, gathering and interpreting essential student and budget data, ensuring federal compliance, etc. When all these processes are performed manually, getting students a competitive aid package can turn into a herculean task.

What Is Financial Aid Management Software?

Financial aid management software supports the processes involved in distributing and managing financial aid. Modern platforms can automate previously manual and time-consuming tasks—like processing financial aid packages—all while ensuring federal compliance. Financial aid management software can also help staff better analyze the institutional and student data they need to communicate with prospective and returning students, as well as create competitive and personalized offers that incentivize enrollment and retention.

Why Do You Need Financial Aid Management Software for Your Digital Campus?

You Can Create Compliant and Accurate Financial Aid Offers

Financial aid management software connects your student information system (SIS) and the government’s Federal Common Origination and Disbursement System, which is designed to support origination, disbursement, and reporting for various loan and grant programs. By doing this, financial aid management software makes it easy to create federally compliant financial aid offers as well as help ease audit concerns. Modern financial aid software can also facilitate the processing and troubleshooting of Title IV aid. It provides the flexibility institutions need to offer both federal and institutional funds, so students get accurate and competitive offers.

You Can Improve Enrollment Rates

By leveraging recruitment data, a modern financial aid solution can help institutions create competitive aid packages in an easily readable, sharable format. This makes it invaluable to institutions looking to enroll more students, since the more competitive an institution’s financial aid offer is, the more likely a student is to enroll in that institution.

Financial aid management software can be especially impactful in recruiting and enrolling first-generation students. Because their parents haven’t gone through the application process, first-generation students will often have a harder time filing for financial aid than other student demographics and will often need more help. Modern systems possess advanced communications capabilities, allowing institutions to send personalized messages, nudges, and other reminders to help ensure students meet deadlines. By simplifying the process and making it easy to connect financial aid officers to prospective students, modern solutions can help colleges get first-generation students the financial support they need to enroll.

You Can Enable Seamless and Student-Centric Processes

Dealing with the complicated financial aid process and making sure their information is in order can be incredibly stressful for students. Financial aid management systems may reduce that stress in a variety of ways.

Modern solutions enable the creation of transparent and easy-to-understand aid packages. They have user-friendly interfaces that make it simple for students to upload documents, pay bills, and communicate with staff. As these systems also automate processes to lessen financial aid office workloads and burdens, they increase the amount of time financial aid officers have to engage directly with students and address their questions and concerns.

You Can Improve Retention Rates

One of the top reasons students give for dropping out of college derives from financial pressure. Sometimes it’s because their aid package has changed or their financial situation at home is unstable. Other times it’s because they’ve missed deadlines and reapplication forms. Financial aid management software enables financial aid offices to better communicate with students. Staff can create automated reminders, or reach out directly to help returning students meet application deadlines.

Some modern financial aid management systems also allow institutions to use data to identify which students possess the most unmet need. Since these students are often among the most likely to drop out, institutions can use the communications capabilities enabled within these systems to enact intervention strategies—like aid counseling or incentives. All of these capabilities help reduce attrition and improve retention rates.

How Does Financial Aid Software Support Your Campus?

Financial aid requests and appeals are trending upwards, and institutions are facing pressure to provide more support. Making this issue more complicated are revenue losses due to declining enrollments and state appropriations, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. Financial aid management software provides institutions with new opportunities to enact efficient and student-centric processes and deliver compliant, competitive financial aid offers.

Learn more about Jenzabar Financial Aid, our cutting-edge financial aid management software to help you get award offers into student hands fast.