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Financial Aid Strategic Plan

Executive Summary: To establish the mission and vision of the department and set three areas of improvement: efficiency, training and learning, and communication.

Financial Aid Mission: To increase opportunities for student access and success in higher education by empowering students and their families to seek, obtain, and make the best use of financial resources.

Vision: To provide high quality financial aid assistance to students and their families. We accomplish this by providing effective and efficient financial aid delivery processes using the latest technology and adapting quickly to institutional and regulatory changes. We strive to establish a proactive approach to anticipating a student’s financial aid needs.

(OPSU goal: resource optimization; OPSU value: excellence and sustainability)

  1. Going paperless
    1. Explore the option of scanning verification, scholarship, and other departmental data files rather than keeping paper files.
      1. Immediate solution: Financial aid employees are scanning verification, scholarship and all other student documents into the P drive. A quality assurance program was set in place which is reviewed by the director periodically.
      2. Long-term option: Using the Grooper function through IT to scan and store documents.
  2. Evaluate current processes and staffing
    1. Phase One: Automating processes
      1. Set-up automatic processes with OSU IT to run FAFSA imports each night versus FA employees running the process daily manually. This was set into place June of 2019 for the 2019-20 aid year and in January of 2020 for the 2020-2021 aid year.
      2. Explore other automations within the department such as shared services with OSU.
    2. Phase Two: Review job descriptions of administrative assistant, assistant director, and director to ensure job duties are properly disbursed. Goal is to complete by April 2020. (Completed January 2020)
    3. Phase Three: Staffing: With the proposed increase in OPSU’s online presence through partnership with CapEd for BBA and BSN degrees, financial should consider whether staffing is adequate within the next three to five years. Goal is to complete by October 2020.
    4. Phase Three: Departmental process reviews: Many of the procedures in place within financial aid are antiquated and require critical thinking to ensure the best procedure for the student and the university. All processes, programs, and policies will be reviewed within three years.

(OPSU goal: life-long learning, student learning, and resource optimization)

  1. Training guides
    1. Phase one: Evaluate training materials and determine relevance and create an overall training guide or each role within the department. This will allow more relevant cross-training within the department and ensure employees are aware of their area of responsibility. This is an ongoing process with no end date.
    2. Phase two: Develop training materials for each major function to allow seamless operation of the department.
  2. Become consistent with regular training via conferences, webinars, and interdepartmental meetings to ensure continuity within the department.
    1. Outside resources include: National Association of Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA), Department of Education sources, Federal Student Aid trainings and the Federal Student Aid handbook, Ellucian webinars and conferences.
      1. Each year, attend the free Federal Student Aid Conference when schedules allow. The cost will be $1500 per person including flights and rooms.
    2. Evaluate training and travel budget to ensure it meets the needs of the department each year and make increase requests where applicable. This is an ongoing review.
  3. Policy review and creation
    1. Review current financial aid policies and determine updates required and any missing policies which should be developed.
      1. Policy creation for cost of attendance for fiscal year 2020-2021. This was completed December 2019 and will be reviewed annually.
      2. Other policies requiring regular update: Packaging and Awarding policy (approved May 2019); Direct Loan Quality Assurance Policy (approved May 2019); Enrollment Reporting Policy (approved May 2019); Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy (approved June 2019); Withdrawal and Return To Title IV Policy (approved November 2019)

(OPSU goal: student learning, resource optimization, graduate production, and life-long learning)

  1. Develop a social media marketing plan for the department to increase engagement with the target audience. Work with the communications department to implement and execute this plan. Goal: take the scary out of financial aid. See Appendix for Communication Plan
  2. Develop a communication plan for each touch with the student throughout the academic year. This plan will be proactive versus reactive and will provide enough contact with the student to keep them aware of their financial aid status.
  3. Develop a financial aid calendar for the department to ensure all staff are on board for the major coming events. This has been created and is reviewed weekly or more often as a team.
  4. Increase the department’s involvement in committees, groups, events, graduation, etc.
  5. Develop relationships with high school counselors within the panhandle region to increase interest in OPSU. Help with FAFSAs, provide expertise advice and assistance to students and parents.
  6. Review and improve the financial aid website to modernize and provide the information students, parents, and outside contacts want to see. Less words, more images, and condensed information.