December 4, 2000
Financial aid signs on with PeopleSoft
By Priscilla Echols
With the final addition of the financial aid office, which goes live today, Dec. 4, the implementation of the PeopleSoft Student Administration System (PSAS) is complete, wrapping up a project that began four years ago.
Until the end of the Summer 2001 semester, the current financial aid
management system (FAM Plus) will run simultaneously with PSAS.
The first students to have their financial aid packaged on PSAS will
be the early decision students in the entering class of Fall 2001. All
students entering the University or continuing in programs will have their
200102 academic year financial aid packaged on PSAS.
The financial aid go-live marks a significant accomplishment for the
members of the financial aid implementation team. The complexity of financial
aid disbursement for the nine schools, which involves 13 graduate and
undergraduate careers with differing tuition rates, can be staggering.
For example, 54 separate equations are used to calculate financial aid
for first-year students in the college. For the colleges returning
students, there are some 70 different equations needed to appropriately
award financial aid.
The financial aid go-live also represents the culmination of the new
student information system project, which began in earnest in 1996. Three
previous offices have been outfitted with PSAS: admissions, the registrar
and student financials.
The most important goal of this project has been to improve service to students at the University.
The entire process has brought about much greater communication
between offices and more of a team approach to student information and
student services, said Dan Walls, dean of admission.
The implementation has encouraged more communication among the central administrative offices, said PSAS project director Heather Mugg. At the same time, this has fostered communication between the administrative offices and the schools. The success of the implementation can be attributed to strong representation from the four central offices and their willingness to give 100 percent to adapt the system to Emorys needs.
One of PSASs identifying features is that it is an integrated system.
This means that the information flows freely from area to area within
The integrated nature of the system has dramatically improved the
accuracy of student information, said Heather Osborne, implementation
lead for the PSAS financial aid module. Administrators have immediate
access to changes in real time.
Below are some specific examples of what an integrated system offers.
The Web interface enables students to register through their personal
accounts directly over the Internet. This eliminates the need for bubble
sheets. Even students studying abroad could complete registration, as
long as they had access to the Web and an Internet browser. On or off
campus, this new system gives students more access to their Emory academic
and financial history.
Once students are admitted, they can anticipate financial aid
being processed in a timely manner. Since the information entered in the
admission office will be reflected in the common database, students will
show as admitted in the system and preliminary financial aid information
can be given.
When a student drops a course a series of related responses are
generated to adjust tuition and financial aid awards, post changes to
the student account and notify appropriate parties of the change.
Central and Oxford admissions now have the ability to assign an
electronic file to each prospective student. As its other components are
phased in, the new student system will combine all data for accepted students
into a single file. The goal is to allow applicants to review the status
of their application online.
In other words, record updates and transactions will be effective immediately
over a students entire Emory career. This directly benefits all
students and administrators, who will thereby have access to consistent
and accurate information from a single, integrated database.
To date the implementation of the PeopleSoft Student Administration System
has been highly successful. However, this success has not been without
I have learned that there are no easy solutions to database issues,
said Julie Barefoot, assistant dean of admission and career services in
the business school. Its a complex, messy and often maddening
process to undergo a computer system change. However, Barefoot said
she has been impressed with the way her colleagues focus on serving students
in the best way possible.
Because of the scale of this project, an initial body of work had to
be defined. The projects initial scope was to replicate the functionality
of the four existing systems, while minimizing modifications.
This has been a positive few years for the University, said
Mary Lou Greenwood Boice, associate dean of admissions and student services
in the theology school.
Although there have been bumps along the way, these have been years
of considerable achievement for the central offices and the schools in
the area of student information, she said. The central offices
better understand their need to function within an integrated program,
and we all have a better sense about the way we can support one anothers
work as well as understanding the