The Financial Aid Office of the Future

Nicole Englebert, Steven Hahn

In Brief

2-Minute Read

If the American higher education system is going to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic better than it was before, leaders should not merely reopen their campuses in the same capacity they were operating pre-pandemic; leaders must reimagine collegiate experience. One place to start is with a fundamental restructuring of the traditional financial aid office to promote outreach and high-value, student-facing activities.

The Evolving Role of the Financial Aid Office

The new landscape in higher education is all about personalized student experience and increased access, yet many financial aid offices are constructed almost in the reverse — as a back-office function with staffs mired in paperwork, responsible primarily for administrative, compliance and regulatory tasks. By leveraging modern technology and intelligent automation to make some of this work less manual, institutions can help to transform the financial aid office into a more hands-on resource focused on outreach and access supporting the institution’s mission and goals.


Traditional Financial Aid Approach

Back-Office Administrative Focus
Packaging and Repackaging Awards
Manual Data Management
Lack of Coordination and Siloed Workflows

Future Finacial Aid Approach

Community Outreach and Presence
Personalized Counseling
Intelligent Automation
Collaboration With Other Student Services

Financial aid professionals enter the profession to help students and families. Most would prefer to eschew the more administrative aspects of their jobs to focus on access and outreach. If the day-to-day work of financial aid professionals becomes more advisory, they can offer more nuanced and real-time guidance to help students make critical financial decisions that may affect and enrich the rest of their lives.

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