Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Interview Plan: Financial Aid Status

My experience at the financial aid office has often made me the receiver for queries regarding a student's financial aid package, loans, status, etc., and so what follows is my interview plan for the Financial Aid Office on what determines everything that goes on behind the scenes. The date and time along with the participants are yet to be announced as an interview hasn't been set up yet. The location is at HPU's Financial Aid Office.

Objective of Interview
 - Figure out what determines a student's financial aid award package

Date,Time, and Location
 - HPU's Office of Financial Aid, Time and Date (TBA)

User Participants (names and titles/positions)
 - TBA

Project Team Participants
 - Estefania Duterte


1. What are the steps needed to receive financial aid at HPU?
2. How do you know if that student is eligible for financial aid?
3. How do you know if a student is eligible for the Pell Grant?
4. What determines the amount of the award package they receive?
5. When does the aid received in the award package pay out?
6. What if their aid doesn't get paid out?
7. Does every student receive the same amount in financial aid?
8. If a student drops a course, will it affect their financial aid?
9. What if their status changes from a full-time student to part-time?
10. What if they drop all their courses after their aid has paid out?
11. How do you determine a student's financial aid status?
12. If a student accepts their loan awards, do they need to do anything else?
13. Who receives financial aid?
14. How do you determine what documents need to be turned in?
15. Does the process differ between undergraduates, graduates, and military students?
16. What if a student wanted to make changes to the amount of the award they accepted?


Important decisions or answers to questions
 - What students provide to the Financial Aid Office through FAFSA determines what a student receives in their award package and also determines what kind of documents must be turned in for verification.

Open items not resolved with assignments for solution
 - TBA

Date and time of next meeting or follow-up session
 - TBA

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Initial Contact with HPU Financial Aid Office

So, in regards to my brainstorming ideas that I'd posted earlier in my previous blogs about an appointment scheduler for the financial aid counselors and a system that helps students view their financial aid status, here's a recollection of the discussion we had a few days back.

The Financial Aid Office knows that I am a Computer Science major at the school so they may be willing to help me out with this project as much as I am willing to give back to those that have hosted me for the past two years.

I brought up these ideas with them in person to several of the staff members, including the counselors and the Associate Director to ask their opinion of it and they somewhat gave feedback on them. The conversation went something like this:

*Names will be withheld throughout dialogue. I don't remember exactly what was said during that conversation since it's been about days since we discussed it, so this is just what I think I remember was said*

Me: "Hey (Customer Rep #1), do you think the counselors need an appointment scheduler? Like something similar to the Academic Advising Office?"

Customer Rep #1: "Yeah, definitely! I mean, that would help us out a lot! We should set something up like that... let's ask the Associate Director."

*Walk over to Associate Director's office who's currently speaking with one of the counselors*

Me: "Hey (Associate Director), so I have this idea for an appointment scheduler for the counselors, do you think we'd need it? I'm currently taking a Systems Analysis course and right now we're trying to come up with potential projects for the semester, what do you think?"

Ass. Director: "Oh wow, how cool! I think that's a great idea!"

Counselor #1: "Yeah, that sounds awesome! That could be like your senior project."

Me: "Yeah, haha, but I'll worry about that next semester. The reason I thought of this was because I realized that students continue to make appointments with the counselors through the phones and by email so I was wondering if an appointment scheduler would help."

Ass. Director: "I see.. well, we'll just have to bring that up with the Director."

Me: "Oh, okay. Another idea I had in mind was setting something up where the students would be able to view their financial aid status regarding what needs to be turned in and whatnot because we all know we get students coming in here or calling non-stop asking about the status of their docs and stuff, and I was wondering if we could do something about that."

Ass. Director: "What did you have in mind?"

Me: "I was thinking something like a poll/questionnaire kind of thing where it asks certain questions like 'Were you born before 1990? Are you in the military? Are you currently an undergraduate or graduate?' and all that. In that way, it'll return a list of required documents that students may need to fill out and submit to us. Because as far as I know, we only see the required documents on our end and though we send out email notifications to the students, some of them say that they either don't check their pipeline emails or don't get the emails at all."

Ass. Director: "That sounds like an excellent idea. I don't know how you'd be able to do that though."

Me: "Well, I saw on pipeline that there is already a Financial Aid Status tab under Quick Links but I don't think it's very efficient in helping us with the workload and the students don't seem to know what to do with it because before you can actually view your requirements, it takes you all over the place - at least that's what it seems like. So, I'm not sure whether or not what I'm suggesting is an update for that or something exclusively for our office alone."

*Then Customer Rep #1 suggests that we take that up with the Director and see if we could try to work something out with the IT Department regarding pipeline. In case you're wondering where Customer Rep #1 came from, he along with Counselor #1 and myself were all in the Associate Director's Office the entire time.