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Delaware County Community College, Serving Delaware and Chester Counties

College Wins International Award for Online Financial Aid Wizard that Can Save Students Money and Time

Group photo(Delaware and Chester Counties, PA, April 10, 2014)—The College is the recipient of a 2014 Innovation Award from Ellucian, a leading software and services provider. Ellucian presented the award to representatives of the College on April 6 at Ellucian Live, a three-day event in Anaheim, California. Innovation awards recognize higher education institutions that utilize Ellucian technologies to improve student success, better serve constituents, and improve operational efficiency. Mercy College In New York also received an innovation award.

At Ellucian Live, more than 8,500 participants from more than 1,300 higher education institutions around the world come together to discover new ideas, develop new insights, and design new approaches to help education move forward.

“We are honored to be selected for our Loan Wizard technological innovation which simplifies and demystifies the often cumbersome process of applying for student financial aid,” Delaware County Community College’s Enrollment Management Vice President Frances Cubberley said. “We could not have done it without Ellucian and the College’s Office of Information Technology and Financial Aid Office working in partnership.”

Together with Ellucian, the College created an online “Loan Wizard,” which walks students step-by-step, intuitively through the financial aid process. The wizard is the latest in a series of initiatives the College has implemented to decrease student loan debt, increase financial literacy and nurture student success.

“The savings–both in money and man hours–is incredibly impressive,” said Jack Kramer, senior vice president, customer perspective at Ellucian, a Fairfax, Virginia based company.

Since the Loan Wizard went live at the College in May 2013, the results have proven its value. In fall 2013, the College processed 63 percent more loans than in the fall of 2012, an operational efficiency that has enabled the College’s Financial Aid staff to spend less time on answering general information questions and more time on helping students who have complex financial aid issues.

The wizard also encourages students to borrow more responsibly, without taking on unnecessary debt. “The College suggests that you borrow wisely and only take out the Minimum Loan Amount you will need to be able to successfully complete your courses,” the Loan Wizard online program cautions students. As a result, in fall 2013, the average amount borrowed per student dropped by 5 percent to $2,424, compared to fall 2012.

Because many community college students are the first in their families to attend college, they often find the financial aid process confusing. Previously, loan experts at the College were inundated with questions and had to walk students and parents through the financial aid process multiple times. The result was massive bottlenecks in the College’s financial aid process. In addition, most students would accept the maximum loan offered regardless of whether their enrollment status, part-time or full-time, warranted the extra loan debt.

Today, once students fulfill their prerequisite financial aid requirements, they can access the online Loan Wizard, which presents them with a minimum, maximum, specific, or most importantly, a College-suggested loan amount based on their enrollment status, their federal Pell grant eligibility, and the amount the College calculates it will cost them to attend. The final decision on whether to take a loan and on how much to borrow is left to the student, within the allowances dictated by federal regulations.

The Loan Wizard has created other positive results for students. Because loans are processed more quickly and efficiently, with the help of the wizard, students can avoid class cancellation due to non-payment and are assured early on of having a seat in class. Receiving financial aid earlier also allows students to purchase the books and ancillary materials needed before their class begins. For the College, the earlier it can know the number of students who are enrolled, the easier it is to more effectively and efficiently plan for the number of classes and the number of faculty members needed to teach the classes.

To create the Loan Wizard, Ellucian and the College utilized various software components including Banner® Financial Aid, Banner® Financial Self Service, and WebTailor Info Text, as well as services components including the Managed Services onsite Management and Banner Application Team, along with the Ellucian Action Line.

“The education community shares a common goal–to ensure students attending higher education institutions receive a high return on investment to ensure future success,” Kramer of Ellucian said. “We want to congratulate … Delaware County Community College on their innovative approach to addressing their specific needs.”

Caption: Delaware County Community College is the recipient of a 2014 Ellucian Innovation Award for the College's online, student, financial aid Loan Wizard. Pictured at the April 6 award ceremony in Anaheim, California are: Bob Hardcastle, Executive Director of Enterprise Systems, Delaware County Community College; Ray Toole, Director of Financial Aid, Delaware County Community College; John Speer, Chief Executive Officer, Ellucian; George Sullivan, Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Delaware County Community College; Jack Kramer, Senior Vice President of Customer Perspective, Ellucian; Mujtaba Talebi, Director of Web Services, Delaware County Community College.

Contact: Anthony Twyman, Assistant to the President for Communications, 610-325-2816 

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