Financial Aid employee communicating with student

The BYU-Idaho Financial Aid Office is delivering student aid faster and more efficiently than ever before. Over the past few years, the Financial Aid Office has implemented and adopted new policies, software, procedures, and processes to improve its efficiency, boost its capabilities, and bless the lives of BYU-Idaho students.

One major adjustment the Financial Aid Office has made is in the implementation of software that automates many of the processes that used to be done manually.

Previously, students were required to visit the office in person or mail in forms to receive the help they needed. While this worked in the past, due to growing enrollment, these processes resulted in long lines and delayed communication. Now, students can manage their financial aid online. They can submit forms, complete requests, apply for appeals, register for aid, and view the status of their aid all in one place.

This automation process has also helped the Financial Aid Office distribute scholarships in a more productive way. Student data now updates every 24 hours and recognizes if a student’s school or credit status has changed. Where students used to be responsible for notifying the Financial Aid Office of any changes, the software now does it automatically. The office is then able to adjust the aid accordingly.

The Financial Aid Office has also created 14 computer work stations in Kimball 196, where students can work on their financial aid (such as filling out their FAFSA), while simultaneously receiving help from the staff. This allows students to obtain the assistance they need while also learning how to fill out financial documents.

“We’re here to help students maximize their opportunities in getting aid to pay for their schooling. We care about every student,” said Joel Cook, associate director of student relations in Financial Aid.

In addition to automated software and student work stations, the BYU-Idaho Financial Aid Office has developed a close collaboration with other organizations on campus that help improve processes and efficiency.

In the past, the Financial Aid Office had their own student support center. Now, the BYU-Idaho Student Support Center (BSC) staff is trained in level-one questions about financial aid. With the BSC helping answer financial aid questions, the Financial Aid Office has more time and resources to dedicate to other areas.

Additionally, a close collaboration with the Accounting Services Office has slimmed down processes and has enabled students to receive their scholarships from outside agencies in a timelier manner.

However, scholarships from outside agencies aren’t the only kind of aid that is being distributed sooner than normal. Recently, the Financial Aid Office has been working to distribute financial aid to students before the first day of the semester.

“In the last two semesters, we’ve been able to disperse a large majority of financial aid prior to the first day of classes,” said Financial Aid Director Ken Jackson. “The first day of school can be a tough time, and if students can get their money before then, they don’t have to worry, and they can focus their attention on classes and other important things.”

Although the BYU-Idaho Financial Aid Office has improved in many ways over the years, additional changes are coming. In the ensuing months, the Financial Aid Office plans to revamp their website to clarify information, improve the student financial aid portal, simplify processes even further, and provide even more help to students.

“If you think there are good things happening in financial aid now, just wait. It’s going to get even better. We’re continuously evaluating and improving our processes to make it a better experience for our students,” said Jackson. “We have an excellent financial aid staff who are devoted and who truly care about the student experience.”