Alyssa Tyler editor in chief
The financial aid system is being replaced by a new system that was described as simple and clean by Scott Donaldson, the director of admission and student financial assistance.
“The reality of it is that we have a financial aid system and a student information system that are 40 years old. And we are not the only ones, there’s colleges all over the country that have home-grown, old, systems. And this was an opportunity to improve both the students’ experience by upgrading the financial aid software. And we do have plans of upgrading the student information system software and bringing everything into the cloud. It’s not quite the cumbersome system that the old one is,” Donaldson said.
The software was launched in the last months of the Fall semester, throughout this semester they will follow a few last steps until they reach August. August is when they will fully disperse money and then start watching to make sure everything is working right.
“Using the old GUS system, it was very manual, on our side. When a student would apply for admission, financial aid, or something like that, we could potentially finish about 100 students a day. It’s a very manual process, pull up each student, got to go in and verify each document manually, so on and so forth. We have 6,000 students, that’s a long time. This system will package everyone in about 24 hours, all 6,000,” said Donaldson.
They have been working on this project since March of 2022 to get it ready for the upcoming semesters.
“This costs money, it’s labor intensive from all the people who are working on the project, but it was 150% necessary to make it more customer friendly for our students. Really, at the end of the day, that’s the benefit. This is so much more easier than Gus.” Donaldson said.
The financial assistance office still follows the federal guidelines set by the Department of Education. So, the interface for the students has changed, but not the process of getting financial assistance or aid.
The student information system, also known as Gus to students and staff, has been around for 40 years. After finishing this project, teams are looking to start ‘revamping’ Gus.
“Then probably not until, possibly, the end of 24 when we’ll start to work on the SIS. And that project, if everything goes smoothly, will probably be something that is live in the Fall of 25. Like it takes a long time to implement these things,” Donaldson said.
For those who are confused by the new systems, there are videos to help explain the new interface.
“I would say it would be more efficient, as a student, what’s important to me is that you will know what your financial aid award package will look like sooner. It’ll be faster, and more accurate, I think. We try our best, but anytime you have any person looking at things and checking things, there’s a margin for error. When the system is doing it, and it’s programmed to do it, there’s less error.