Follett Features

South Louisiana Community College and Follett’s Integrated Financial Aid Programs

WESTCHESTER, IL, Sep 19, 2017 – When South Louisiana Community College (SLCC) merged with Acadiana Technical College in 2012, it became one of the state’s largest community college systems.  For the SLCC campus store in Lafayette, this was an opportunity to serve even more students, faculty, administration and community members across Louisiana’s Acadiana region.  With only two physical campus stores (the main store in Lafayette and a satellite store in New Iberia) now supporting eight campuses, students came to rely on the campus store website for course materials, supplies, and other merchandise.

Less than one year later, in the spring of 2013, the SLCC campus store took a big step toward improving accessibility for financial aid students unable to visit the physical campus store.  In partnership with SLCC administration, the campus store launched Follett’s Online Financial Aid program.  The program, which integrates students’ financial aid information with campus store systems, allows students to use financial aid funds online to quickly and conveniently acquire the materials they need.

“Once the colleges merged, the need for financial aid online was emphasized.  A lot of the campuses were 50 miles away.  Putting financial aid online was much easier for these students,” said Store Manager Donovan Payton.

Not only do students benefit from convenient access to course materials through Follett’s Online Financial Aid program, the campus benefits as well. 

Campus program administrators will experience a streamlined process that reduces paper processing and automates billing.  In addition, the improved communication and access for students has proven to generate an increase in sales, which benefits both the store and the campus,” stated Jennifer Hatton, Follett’s Senior Vice President of Operations and Course Materials.

When the SLCC campus store implemented Online Financial Aid in spring 2013, more students were able to leverage their financial aid funds to get the materials needed for class.  The store’s most affordable course material options – used text and rental text – proved to be popular choices among students.

 “The campus embraced the program.  It was all a learning curve for them, but they were very happy about it,” added Donovan.

Following the implementation of the Online Financial Aid program, the SLCC store team approached the campus administration with an additional program that would drive student awareness around using financial aid in-store or online.  Donovan partnered with his regional manager, Ann Barlow, to explain that Follett’s Financial Aid Email Messaging program would help students understand how and when to use their financial aid. 

Here’s how Follett’s Financial Aid Email Messaging program works:  The day that financial aid opens, students receive an email notification on behalf of the institution with their account name, available funds, fund expiration dates and a link to store hours and website. As a reminder, students will receive a follow-up message a few days before their financial aid closes with an update on their available funds. They’re able to opt out of the program at any time.

When Donovan and Ann shared the program benefits with their SLCC campus partners, they received a positive response. 

“They liked all the things that we talked about – making students aware of their financial aid funds, the timeframe and how to use it,” Donovan explained.

With that, SLCC officially signed on to Follett’s Financial Aid Email Messaging program in fall 2016, with plans to launch before the spring term.    To prepare students, the college sent out an email letting students know what to expect.  Donovan also partnered with the college’s PR department to emphasize the financial aid message through social media. 

Follett Regional Manager Ann Barlow applauded Donovan’s efforts to promote the program on campus.  “Once Donovan received approval from the campus, his goal was to make sure students benefited from this great program.  His partnership with the PR department on campus helped drive student awareness, and that was a key part in making this program a success in the first semester of implementation,” she stated.

When SLCC students received the first Financial Aid Email Message in late December, the results proved that the program did what it was intended to do – drive awareness around available funds to use at the campus store.  According to Donovan, many students came into the bookstore saying, I got this email saying I can spend money on books.  How does that work? 

Not surprisingly, the email program prompted a significant increase in the number of students using their Financial Aid in store and online.  And, with more students using financial aid online, there were fewer students waiting in lines at the store - leading to a more pleasant and efficient in-store experience.

SLCC students and the campus store aren’t the only ones who benefit from Follett’s Financial Aid programs, however.  Donovan pointed out that, with course materials more easily accessible, instructors have a higher percentage of students using them.  Ultimately, that leads to more participation in class and better performance.

With the start of the 2017-2018 academic year, the SLCC store team is excited to drive awareness around financial aid with new students and continue to provide better access to course materials for everyone throughout the SLCC system.  

News tags: