Saint Xavier University's Financial Aid Office recognized
Electronic paperless financial aid processing increases productivity
Chicago (June 19, 2006) – The Illinois Board of Higher Education has recognized Saint Xavier University’s Financial Aid Office for its paperless financial aid processing, which has resulted in a 60 percent increase in financial aid application completions with no increase in staffing.
Saint Xavier University is one of four universities in Illinois recognized on the IBHE’s Web site for its “effective practices,” defined as institutional activities that have a direct connection to IBHE’s The Illinois Commitment, a strategic plan to guide higher education through the first decade of the new millennium. The Illinois Commitment is a policy framework that enhances accountability and communication efforts for higher education’s stakeholders while being more responsive to a rapidly changing environment. Effective practices must have measurable outcomes, sustainability, and potential applicability to other institutions.
“We congratulate Saint Xavier University for its effective practices designation for its paperless financial aid office,” said Judy Erwin, executive director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education. “Institutions highlighted on the IBHE Web site are selected by a committee that takes a variety of criteria into consideration, including innovation; alignment with The Illinois Commitment; and the ability for this project or program to be utilized by other institutions from all sectors.”
Saint Xavier University has one of the most efficient financial aid offices in the state of Illinois, said Kathleen Carlson, vice president of research, planning and assessment at Saint Xavier University. Six years ago Saint Xavier launched a proactive outreach program that delivered quick and accurate processing of financial aid applications and early notification of financial aid awards.
Since 1999, the total number of financial aid applications completed increased 60 percent with no significant changes in staffing levels, Carlson said. In the same time, Saint Xavier’s undergraduate enrollment has increased by 28 percent. In addition, the economic diversity of the undergraduates has also increased.
A pivotal element of the new strategies was early notification of financial aid options that would make an education at Saint Xavier University affordable to students with high financial need, and more competitive for those students with greater financial means, Carlson said.
“We are very proud of the hard work and accomplishments on the part of our Financial Aid Office,” Carlson said. “It clearly is a best practice when there is such an increase in financial aid packages with no increase in staff. Their productivity is just amazing. They have mastered technology to free them up to provide more human interaction and outreach. Through their efforts, so many students who thought a college education was out of their reach have found that a high-quality private education is affordable through early outreach and quick turnaround of their financial aid packages.”
Four years ago, the Financial Aid Office began using a software module that was fully integrated with the University’s student recruitment and student records computing system in order to automate and expedite every aspect of financial aid application processing. This included an electronic tracking system for thousands of communications between the University and new and continuing students regarding financial aid awards and reminders about the financial aid application process.
“The automation of financial aid application processing is inherently cost effective by virtue of productivity gains and better utilization of professional staff time and resources. It has helped to propel new student recruitment to record high levels, and it has widened the economic diversity of Saint Xavier University’s undergraduate student population,” Carlson said.
Saint Xavier University is a private, coeducational institution serving more than 5,700 students with high-quality academic programs. It offers 36 undergraduate majors and 32 graduate program options in five schools: School of Arts and Sciences, School of Education, Graham School of Management, School of Nursing and School of Continuing and Professional Studies. With campuses in Chicago and Orland Park, the University offers personalized education that emphasizes challenging undergraduate, graduate and professional programs of study.
Saint Xavier University, a Catholic institution inspired by the heritage of the Sisters of Mercy, educates men and women to search for truth, to think critically, to communicate effectively, and to serve wisely and compassionately in support of human dignity and the common good.
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