Brandman University Case Study

Redefining Financial Aid to Support Non-Traditional Students

Brandman Case Study Image

Customer Profile

Brandman University is a private, non-profit institution that offers more than 50 accredited undergraduate and graduate degrees, certificates, teaching credentials and professional development programs both online and on-campus at 26 locations. Brandman enrolls more than 12,000 students annually per session and focuses on providing flexible programs and schedules to meet the needs of its non-traditional students which include adult, low-income, first generation, Hispanic and military students. Committed to excellence, the university’s online programs consistently have ranked among the best in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.

Chasing Perfection

Brandman University takes immense pride in helping working students achieve their career goals. The university’s robust offerings of online and on-campus programs are designed to support non-traditional students who need to pursue their studies on their own schedules. Flexibility is key.

“I’m drawn to a Vince Lombardi quote when I speak about our mission,” says Greg Ball, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Financial Aid at Brandman. “‘Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.’ It truly embodies our approach.” It’s through this lens that Ball and the leadership team assessed Brandman’s financial aid solution.

Brandman is the only institution currently approved by the U.S. Department of Education to offer direct assessment Competency-Based Education (CBE) in a non-term calendar. Yet, the legacy financial aid system the university had been using simply could not accommodate these non-term, CBE enrollments. The system was failing both the university and its students, thereby diminishing the team’s ability to deliver excellence.

Our university wants to help people get access to higher education. Regent enables us to do this more effectively.

-Greg Ball, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Financial Aid

Assessing Options

Although staff recognized the limitations of the university’s legacy system, they also felt a certain degree of familiarity with it. Moving to a new system would require a level of effort as well as confidence that the new solution would address Brandman’s challenges.

Ball and his team sought out six prospective providers and began an evaluation process. Each solution was graded on its ability to meet the institution’s goals, including:
1. Supporting multiple enrollment models, including CBE
2. Creating efficiencies around financial aid packaging and repackaging
3. Reducing compliance risk

After thoroughly vetting the options, it quickly became clear that Regent was the obvious choice for managing financial aid for both Brandman’s term and non-term enrollment models.

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Catching Excellence

Success can be measured. Just ask the team at Brandman who have chronicled the changes that have taken place at the university since implementing Regent.

Brandman has reported impressive efficiency metrics for processing both non-term and term-based financial aid. Regent’s automated processing, document management and
automatic tasks that alert the team when action needs to be taken have “enabled the financial aid team to increase the complexity of managing two enrollment models, reduce staff and increase disbursements,” shares Ball.

Brandman counts student service improvements among its successes as well. Students can gain real-time access to their accounts via a self-service portal, which offers a level of immediacy and transparency that wasn’t there before. So, when a student does need to reach a financial aid officer, someone is available and has the time to spend counseling that student.

We are now processing faster and more effectively – saving more than 13,000 hours annually – time we’ve reallocated towards higher-value student financial counseling and a reduction of financial aid staff by 13 percent.

-Greg Ball, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Financial Aid

Instead of focusing on unnecessary workarounds, staff members now are free to deliver the personalized support that a community of students from diverse backgrounds with diverse needs requires. And that investment is paying off; the university’s retention rate is quickly approaching 85 percent.

Automation via the cloud has simplified Brandman’s processes on multiple fronts. On the regulatory side, federal updates are run in the background regularly, eliminating the margin for human error and reducing costly compliance risks. And on the usability front, Regent’s intuitive navigation means that the average staff member can become an expert with less than a day of instruction.

Brandman’s leadership praises Regent’s implementation team as well. “Moving to Regent was the seventh implementation of my career—and by far the easiest,” says Ball. “They had a wonderful team come out to manage everything step by step and help us hit our timeline.”

If Brandman University’s early results are any indication, Ball and his team are well on their way to achieving their goal of “catching excellence.”

*As reported by Brandman University

CHALLENGES

  • Obstacles in financial ad discourage matriculation.
  • Lacked a financial aid solution that could automate both term-based and non-term enrollment models without customization
  • Manual processing demands affected staff’s ability to deliver personalized, efficient service and increased compliance risk.

REGENT SOLUTIONS

  • Regent Award and Regent Review, supporting multiple enrollment models, including CBE

KEY BENEFITS

  • Earlier eligibility bolsters early enrollment and fosters confidence in student planning.
  • Increases staff efficiencies and productivity through automation
  • Improves ability to counsel and support students
  • Reduces processing errors and compliance risk

SUCCESS METRICS*

  • Processing time dropped from a
    3-year average of 17 days to its
    current 6-day processing time.
  • More than 13,000 person hours
    saved annually with process and
    document automation
  • 20% reduction in central financial aid office workload
  • More than $15,000 saved in
    improper scholarship awards
  • Enhanced compliance capability
    for Title IV programs
  • Reduction in revising award tasks from 15 business days to 1 day
  • 82% 6-year graduation rates

REGENT FEATURES

  • Only system that natively
    automates financial aid support
    for traditional and non-traditional enrollment models (including non-term, BBAY, CBE, standard and nonstandard term and SAY models)
  • Enables institutions to operate
    multiple enrollment models
    concurrently
  • Ability to calculate the entire
    student academic plan for the life of the program
  • Faster awarding and process times
  • Student tracking
  • Timely regulatory updates that
    are managed automatically via a
    SaaS model
  • Advanced student-service portal
  • User experience designed by
    financial aid experts for financial
    aid experts
  • Integrates with any SIS