Electronic Student Aid Award Notification for New Students

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version
Team ID: 
College / Administrative Unit: 
Undergraduate Education
Date Started: 
January 2009
To notify new students by email that their Student Aid Award is ready to view in eLion as the Office of Student Aid continues to move to electronic communication and processes.

Process: Student Aid Award Notification for students new to PSU (first-year Undergraduate, first-year Graduate, advanced standing, non-degree to degree, provisional to degree). OSA previously notified these students by U.S. mail at their permanent address because these students did not have a PSU access account. We will use the email address provided on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to notify offered and accepted students that their Student Aid Award is available on eLion. If the FAFSA email is not valid, the email provided at the time they applied to PSU will be used. If neither email reaches the student we will send a paper letter directing students to eLion. We are also sending parents of dependent students an email advising them that the student has received email award notification.

Issue prompting improvement: Cost reduction; continuing the move to electronic communication and processes in OSA.

Objectives: 1. To notify new students by email that their Student Aid Award is ready to view in eLion. 2. To reduce costs. 3. Students receive notice of awards the day after weekly awarding is complete. 4. Any changes to aid programs or amounts are immediately visible in eLion for students.

We will begin Student Aid awarding for new students at the end of March and make weekly awards as FAFSA’s are loaded from the federal processor. We will be able to report outcomes later this year.

July 8, 2010

I would judge the project to be extremely successful. All of our objectives were met.

We essentially converted a paper-based award notification process (an award letter) to an e-mail notification with instructions to view awards on eLion. The e-mail message was sent to the student with a copy to the parent, using the e-mail addresses supplied by them on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The efficiencies gained were by converting to electronic media.
Families would receive the e-mail message a day after the awarding, and could view eLion immediately thereafter.

Cost savings would have been in the form of postage savings. I don't have figures at my fingertips, but could pull them if you would be interested.

The only downside we've experienced relates to the volatility and sometimes inaccuracy of e-mail addresses. They are supplied via the FAFSA, but e-mail addresses are viewed by some individuals as being disposable. So we had a certain percentage of e-mail returned as undeliverable. In those instances we were forced to communicate with paper, which cut into our cost savings a little.

Bob Quinn

July 15, 2010

Our cost savings were estimated at approximately $27,000 when we compared expenditures of our new process to the paper-based process used in 2008-09.

Bob Quinn

Aug 3, 2010 - addendum to results

I will add to that recent update: That we believe new students and their families were most appreciative of receiving information about their student aid electronically. The few bugs (related to use of FPS email addresses) we experienced when this was launched for the 2009-10 year were worked out and this new approach went even more smoothly this year. The team also added a feature for this year which provides each student a personalized status checklist of the various steps the student needs to take to confirm his or her aid for the coming year.
While we cannot precisely quantify an outcome of this new feature, staff report that we are getting fewer phone calls from new students and their parents about routine status questions. We believe the personalized checklist is providing students with the information they need. This really makes for greater efficiency with respect to handling phone call traffic during the busy summer months.

The original team for this project has completed its work. A smaller team has been named and will meet periodically to maintain this process and look for future enhancements.


Contact Person: 
Bonnie Benjamin
  • Anna Griswold, Sponsor
  • Bob Quinn, Leader
  • Bonnie Benjamin, Facilitator
  • Sandy Coyle, Member
  • Giovanna Genard, Member
  • Savitha Kolar, Member
  • Jane Kone, Member
  • Evelyn Nordberg, Member
  • Paul Simenson, Member