CMU selects new financial aid portal provider
New platform will offer better user experience, streamlined operations
Beginning in 2024, Central Michigan University students will have a new way of interacting with their financial aid information. Sarah Kasabian-Larson, director of scholarships and financial aid, said CMU will implement a new financial aid portal that offers a more digital-friendly user experience.
“Students are used to interacting with apps on their mobile devices, and we need to meet our students where they are,” she said.
The new portal will be easier to navigate from a cellphone or tablet and will offer benefits such as the ability to view messages from CMU in the portal.
“We will still continue to communicate with students via email, but those messages will also be accessible from inside their portal, and they’ll be able to message us with questions,” she said.
The new platform also will allow students to e-sign documents and to share documents with their parents and supporters for e-signatures. There are enhanced transparency features, including a breakdown of amounts coming from grants, scholarships, work-study and offered loans, as well as a glossary of terms frequently used in financial aid documents and processes.
In addition, Kasabian-Larson says the platform offers a function to help students plan for their future at CMU, including making better-informed decisions about their student loans so they can borrow less.
Transition begins in spring 2024
Kasabian-Larson said current students can continue to access their financial aid information through CMU’s existing financial aid portal.
“Students will begin to use the new financial aid portal in early spring 2024,” she said. “They don’t need to do anything differently now.”
When the new portal launches in spring, the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid will notify students via their cmich.edu email address.
Students also will receive visible alerts within the old and new financial aid platforms through on-screen notifications that will ensure they are provided direction to use the right platform at the right time.
“Although the transition is still a few months out, we are notifying campus now to ensure that everyone is aware of the coming change,” Kasabian-Larson said.
CMU’s Regent Solution
CMU chose Regent Communication Inc. to provide the new financial aid portal after a thorough request for proposal process, Kasabian-Larson said. Staff in the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid began training on the new tool this fall and are ready to implement the platform in spring 2024.
“We spent a lot of time in the student portal pretending to be students, and I could just see the huge changes they’re going to experience,” she said. “I’m excited because I can see how automated we’re going to be, and how that will allow us to be more proactive in our student outreach.”
Kasabian-Larson said the new portal’s automated processes will reduce paperwork, streamline tasks and decrease the possibility of errors, allowing staff to spend more time working with students.
“We want to help students earn their degrees and find paths to pay for their education – that is why we’re in financial aid,” she said.
Preparing for FAFSA 2024
Kasabian-Larson said her team also is spending time preparing for rollout of the new, simplified Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This year, the FAFSA opens in December – two months later than in prior years – and will include several important changes.
Staff in the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid hosted in-person informational sessions for students Nov. 7th and 8th. Kasabian-Larson said a recording of the information session will be available on their FAFSA Simplification website soon.
“If students have questions about the new FAFSA, they can schedule an appointment, either in-person or virtual, with a financial aid advisor through the OFSA website,” she said.