The Future of
the Financial Aid Office
This page contains a set of handouts for a talk given by Mark Kantrowitz at
the 10th Annual Policy Conference in Vail, Colorado on September 23, 1996 and at
the GMAC Conference in Dallas, Texas on November 4, 1996.
Overview of the Talk
The Future of the Financial Aid Office
Where is technology headed in the future?
How will technology impact service to students?
How will technological change affect the role of the financial
How we can best prepare ourselves to understand and use
Sources of Change
My Vision of the Future
Hard to see path for the future:
Like asking about the impact of paper, TV, telephone in their
The only certainty is that most predictions will be wrong or
The web won't lead to the death of paper. Distance education
will not lead to the death of the traditional university.
(ATMs vs Cash, Videotapes vs Movies).
Synergy and serendipity will lead us in unexpected and
So let's look at what is certain:
Future will be shaped by social and economic forces.
The web will not be owned by Microsoft or Netscape, but by the
information providers, such as you. Content is key.
We need to catch up with the present before we can move on to
The future is already here!
The World Wide Web is the way of the future.
But don't forget about Electronic Mail (Email).
It's taken 20 years for the world to realize the power of the
The Web may be in its infancy, but the basic shape will
persist as it matures. There is a window of opportunity for the next
2-3 years to shape the future use of the Web. The time is now to
establish standards and conventions.
Use of the Web will continue to grow.
TV sets will come Web-ready, just as they are cable-ready
Very high speed access to the Web through
- Phone lines (high bandwidth incoming, low outgoing)
- Cable modems (faster than Ethernet)
- Satellite dishes
How is the Web Different?
It is a new communication channel, but with more depth and
Not just the latest fad.
Several fundamental advantages:
- Lower cost publication of information
- More information -- can provide unlimited information
- Larger, technologically adept audience
- Easier and faster correction of errors or update of material
Don't have to wait until the next print run.
- Interactive medium (e.g., online calculators and databases)
Supplements -- does not replace -- traditional media.
A condition of doing business, like the fax or telephone.
Use of the Web creates a level playing field.
- Little schools look like big schools.
- Can compete with traditional media outlets.
- Equal access to low-income families (TV sets are the first
luxury purchased by low-income families).
Impact on the Financial Aid Office
Nature of the Financial Aid Office:
- Back room provides data to students, US Department of
Education, other university offices, and lenders.
- Front room provides education and counseling.
Impact of technology on the Financial Aid Office:
- Automating routine tasks (the back room) means less drudgery
and stress for the financial aid administrator.
- Greater efficiency in the back room. Doing more with the same
number of staff. Handle more students, bigger FA budgets.
- Shift the focus to consumer education and counseling. A
friendlier, less bureaucratic, more personal financial aid office.
- Help more students, but spend less time per student.
- Less face-to-face contact with students with routine
questions. Answer routine questions via email.
- More personal contact with students with unusual or
- Hub concept will blur the distinction between the financial
aid office, admissions office, bursar, registrar, and other enrollment
services. It will provide better, more uniform customer service.
Impact of the Web on the Financial Aid Office:
- Lower costs mean more money for aid.
- Fill the information gap with solid information.
- Satisfy student demand for instant answers.
- More free publications online.
- Uniform, streamlined, fast, efficient financial aid delivery
- Automation of verification through interfaces with the Social
Security Administration, ED, Lenders, and IRS (National Student Data
System & Project EASI). FAO will only need to see students who have
- Process data, not paper.
Using the Web
The Future of Financial Aid on the Web
Within the Next Year or Two
This is my vision -- no guarantees that it will come true.
FAFSA Online. Apply online, and receive your SAR immediately.
Two additional large scholarship search services will
announce free versions on the web (earning revenue from the
advertising model, like FastWEB, instead of student fees).
15-minute student loan application and approval on the web,
instead of 60-90 days. Getting the funds to the student more quickly.
Review and correct your student records online. (TGSLC, Sallie
Federal Student Aid Handbook on the Web, as well as all other
Uniform interface to lenders, guarantors, servicers, secondary
markets, collection agencies. The details will become invisible.
Coming Soon from the FinAid® Page
I will do my best to see that these improvements come to pass.
An overview of financial aid, including explanations of how to
apply for financial aid and answers to common student questions.
More financial aid calculators, online surveys, and an
interactive entrance/exit interview test of student knowledge.
Press releases for news media about financial aid topics, from
debunking myths to analyzing important financial aid issues.
Inexpensive Macintosh and PC versions of the financial aid
Template for a Common FAO Web page. (Why duplicate effort?)
Early awareness initiative.
Any other suggestions?
Using the Internet for Collaboration
You can ask colleagues at other schools how they handle
You can gather data on staffing, salaries, facilities and
tools at other schools, to convince your administration to provide you
with the resources you need for your office.
You can post news and announcements about your office.
You can advertise openings in your office, or find out about
openings at other schools to advance your own career.
You can ask and answer questions of colleagues with a broad
range of expertise, and discuss topics of mutual interest.
You can find out the latest news from the US Department of
You can hear about all the software and processing problems
encountered by other schools, and avoid falling prey to the same bugs.
You can review federal regulations, dear colleague letters,
and other professional information online through EFAL and the SFA
You can keep in contact with all the friends you make at these