In addition to spending weeks getting financial aid packages put together for prospective students and the insanity of ensuring the continuing students are ready to disburse, your office also needs to remain in compliance with Title IV and similar mandates, adding even more to your ever-present workload. Though financial aid compliance has always had challenges, nobody working in higher education can contest that the COVID-19 pandemic has placed a serious obstacle in the way of many schools’ strategic and financial goals. How do you provide student support during times of trouble when your financial aid office is already overwhelmed?
Ways to Begin Strengthening Your Financial Aid Compliance Management Program
- Start with an overview of any changes to federal and state financial aid regulations, such as the changes to R2T4 for modules going into effect on July 1, 2021. Knowing how they’ll impact your institution and your enrollment can help you put practices into place ahead of time.
- Perform audits. * POLICY FRAMEWORKS, REGULATORY CONFORMITY* Especially as schools are beginning to meet in person and return to in-office operations, taking a solid look at what happened in the last year is vital to your financial aid office’s success in the future. Discover what issues have occurred and developed better ways to avoid those problems in the future.
- Develop checklists. As part of daily, weekly, monthly, and semester housekeeping, come up with checklists of what needs to be handled during these key points. This makes it much easier to remain in compliance with regulations without having to suddenly catch up on paperwork.
- Review policies and procedures. Take the time to go over your policies and procedures at least once a year. This allows you to make changes on an as-needed basis for new regulations, issues that have arisen, new software that needs to be adapted into your policies, and similar adjustments.
- Take time to do a hot wash of problems. A term most commonly used in emergency response, a hot wash refers to getting together to review how a specific crisis was handled. By applying the same approach to issues that arise in your office, you can develop new policies and procedures to guide your office in the future.
By taking the time to look at a few of these options and integrate them into your annual routine for your financial aid office, you’ll be able to have a better grasp on remaining compliant with state and federal laws. As a service provider for higher education institutions, we help financial aid and student support offices find smart solutions to their challenges. If your office needs help to find the right solutions that allow your school to thrive, we’re ready to help. Please feel free to contact us today with any questions, for more information, or to schedule a consultation with some of our higher education professionals.