To ensure compliance with the Title IV rules and regulations and to provide recommendations on increasing efficiencies and automation in the financial aid operations.
After the school's long-time financial aid director retired, Eric Nichols, Vice President for Enrollment Management at Loyola University Maryland, approached Blue Icon Advisors for a customized operational review of the undergraduate Office of Financial Aid (OFA). Mr. Nichols had only been in the position for a few months and viewed this as an opportunity to evaluate current operations from different points of view, including efficiency, student service, and compliance, and potentially make changes to support his goals for the department moving forward.
Through both on- and off-site work, Blue Icon Advisors thoroughly assessed Loyola's financial aid operations. Remote research included an examination of established policies and procedures, award letters, student and staff surveys, organizational structure and job descriptions, any previous audit findings, and more. The on-site visit included a file review, observation of office operations, as well as interviews with students, staff in the financial aid office, and other colleagues on campus. Initial observations were provided at the end of the on-site visit and the full results of the research were provided in a written report to the school. In addition to the review, Blue Icon is providing ongoing remote consultation, as needed, on future challenges and priorities.
A few weeks after the final report was delivered, we followed up with Mary Anne Stano, the new director of financial aid. She commented, "We implemented a 24 hour turn around on phone calls and emails, and though it's early, so far so good. Everyone in the office gets it, not that they didn't before, but now there is a better understanding of how our work integrates. With the decision to do less than 100% verification, as expected, the workflow is changing and freeing up time for that prompt and necessary follow up. We had our first meeting about going paperless with our tech services folks. It's busy, the changes continue, but it's all good. Great things are happening here."
Mr. Nichols commented, "The review was very comprehensive. I wasn't necessarily looking for compliance issues, but they found a few and noted those in the report, which was helpful. It was nice that BI went over and above and noted the compliance exceptions even though it wasn't directly in the statement of work." He added, "Having someone from outside come in and evaluate our operations allowed these issues to be exposed much quicker, which allows us to address them quicker."
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Publication Date: 6/15/2020