Case Study: Connecticut State Community College

May 2020 through January 2021

Goals

  • To create a single, comprehensive policies and procedures manual in the NASFAA P&P Builder that promotes an environment of compliance and consistency across the system's 12 campuses.
  • To develop and publish policies that provide transparency to students and address the unique needs of adult learners.
  • To conduct "train-the-trainer" sessions to teach representatives from each campus about the changes to their existing policies and procedures. Those representatives would then deliver the information to their staff.
  • To develop the text for a student-facing handbook that the twelve campuses can use to explain federal financial aid policies and processes to students.

Situation

The Connecticut State Colleges & Universities system plans to merge its twelve community colleges into a single institution by 2023, creating Connecticut State Community College (CSCC). In preparation for the merger, the CSCC system office audited the schools' policies and procedures to gain a greater understanding of how financial aid is distributed, with a particular interest in equity and impact on adult learners. Despite using a centralized student information system, the CSCC system office learned that the colleges had considerable autonomy in the administration of financial aid. With support from the Lumina Foundation, CSCC approached Blue Icon for assistance.

Solution

Blue Icon Advisors began by developing a comprehensive project plan that balanced the need for each campus's involvement with making steady progress toward established goals. At the first meeting with the directors of all 12 community colleges, we reviewed the plan and explained how we would proceed through the 18 sections in the P&P Builder while not overwhelming the staff. Steve McDowell, Associate Vice President for Financial Aid Services and Title IV Compliance, commented, "I really appreciated the team's ability to involve all the directors and give everyone a chance to speak up and have a sense of ownership."

There were as many as three consultants working at any given time on the policies and procedures manual, along with the CSCC staff, plus additional consultants who worked on the student handbook text and the training materials. Karen Hanley, project specialist with Blue Icon, managed the P&P manual portion of the engagement. "It was interesting to hear how different schools approached their processes based on their student populations," she said. "We knew early on that we needed to keep flexibility in the policies and procedures so they could serve their unique students."

Blue Icon facilitated weekly two-hour meetings with the central CSCC staff and the directors from the 12 campuses to gather input and to confirm understanding of existing policies and procedures. During this discovery process, Blue Icon observed both non-compliant and missing items in the existing policies and procedures, as well as gaps in the application of the documented policies and procedures at the 12 campuses. The Blue Icon team worked through each required section of the manual, capturing identified best practices, and drafting new policies and procedures where gaps existed. The CSCC team vetted all newly developed content, and final approval of the manual was obtained by the CSCC Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs.

Outcome

In January 2021, Blue Icon delivered to the school a complete and compliant policies and procedures manual in the NASFAA P&P Builder, the student handbook text, nine custom training topics, and two foundational training sessions. "Working with Blue Icon from project inquiry and development, through procurement, and into project implementation, I have nothing but high regard for their outstanding level of commitment to quality work," said McDowell. In addition, "The team was quick to understand where we had deficiencies and provided targeted training to address those needs, which went above and beyond the project scope." Upon completion, the manual yielded over 100 recommendations to increase operational effectiveness as the institutions work toward their upcoming merger. "I have no doubt this manual provides a strong foundation for our merged institution to compliantly participate in the Title IV, HEA programs," said McDowell

When printed, the new policies and procedures manual is 262 pages.

 

Are your policies and procedures in compliance with the federal rules and regulations? Do you need a partner to help with your policies and procedures? Are your student-facing publications ready for revision? Complete the no obligation online form below to start the conversation with Blue Icon Advisors.

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Publication Date: 3/10/2021

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