Mohave Community College Case Study
Improving Efficiency and Student Service by Reengineering Verification
Mohave Community College (MCC) is a comprehensive, rural community college serving more than 13,000 students annually. MCC attracts students from the northwest corner of the State of Arizona (Mohave County) and its neighboring communities in California, Nevada and Utah. MCC has four campuses—Kingman, Lake Havasu City, Bullhead City, and Colorado City—as well as an extensive distance education program, MCC Online.
The Costs of Manual Verification
When Shannon Sheaff arrived at MCC in the fall of 2012 to fill the role of Director of Financial Aid, she had two key priorities: create a completely automated verification process, and reduce the default rate. “It was clear to me that these two goals were critical to the success of this institution and the students we serve,” shares Sheaff. “We know that financial concerns have a direct correlation to a student’s ability to complete his or her degree.”
Verification is typically one of the costliest tasks performed in the administration of Title IV financial aid, as well as one of the leading causes of compliance issues. Like most institutions, verification at MCC was a labor-intensive process that required staff to receive and process paper documents, work with limited online tools to assist with verification, and access multiple systems needed to respond to student inquiries.
This manual, paper-based verification process also added stress to their students’ lives, including unnecessary confusion and questions resulting from use of the standard Federal Worksheet. This confusion contributed to both a poor student experience and high default rates.
Under Sheaff’s leadership, MCC sought a Title IV verification process that took automation to a new level, with the goal of eliminating all paper from the process. The automation of this process would afford MCC the added benefits of increasing compliance controls and improving student service.
We need our students to focus on obtaining their degrees, not filling out PDF forms to receive their financial aid.
- SHANNON SHEAFF, DIRECTOR OF FINANCIAL AID, MCC
With more than 13,000 students and four campuses, it was imperative that MCC find a robust solution that would be highly-automated and deployable in a short amount of time. Additionally, their multi-campus structure, coupled with their shared-services model, made finding a solution that would provide varying access levels according to user type critical to supporting their service model.
MCC decided to look for a partner to help reengineer their verification process to achieve the goals of increased efficiency, student service, and compliance. Their requirements for an ideal partner included:
- A proven leader of financial aid verification software
- Understands the complexities and nuances surrounding compliance
- Offers the most modern technology
- Is quick to deploy
For MCC, time was of the essence. A solution that could be deployed quickly while requiring minimal Information Technology resources was imperative. Sheaff explains, “It was critical that we make our deadline, so we needed to make sure we were selecting not only the right product, but the right partner.”
After analyzing numerous products, MCC selected Regent Review for the automation of their Title IV verification process. Regent Review, a fully-automated verification solution, eliminates the need for paper worksheets. It sends those students selected for verification an automated e-mail containing a link to a smart form that presents them with only those questions specific to their individual situations. Forms are pre-populated with information, reducing data entry and conflicting information errors.
“From the moment we had a demonstration of the product, we knew we were speaking with a partner that had experienced our challenges firsthand and had designed a product to overcome the challenges that institutions across the country face,” shares Sheaff.
MCC set out to improve their Title IV verification process by building efficiency, minimizing compliance risk, and increasing the college’s ability to service their students. Within just three months, MCC successfully implemented a verification process that eliminated the need for paper forms and provided full support for their shared service model—all while reducing compliance concerns and back-office processing needs by 66% percent.
“Prior to the implementation of Regent Review, we had to access three different systems to respond to student inquiries and compliance audits, and performing verification required three staff members. Now we have all the information we need in one easy-to-use system, and only one staff member is dedicated to verification,” says Sheaff. “The implementation of Regent Review eliminated what was once a burdensome process. Now, we’re able to help our students focus on the right things and help them have a more successful student experience.”
The time saved with this automated verification process was reallocated to working directly with students. As a result, Sheaff and her institution-wide team successfully reduced the default rate by more than seven percent.
“We are very pleased that we were able to achieve all of the efficiency and compliance goals we hoped to achieve. And, perhaps of equal importance, we have an industry-leading student experience process. In addition, our front-line staff now have time to focus on serving students and answering questions rather than collecting and scanning verification documents,” says Sheaff.
- High administrative costs
- Manual process increased compliance risk
- Less than optimal student service levels
- Regent Review
- Proven and highly advanced ISIR processing capabilities
- Complete audit trail that includes all submitted documents, student communications, and processing history
- Electronic signature capabilities
- Single sign-on options to prevent fraud
- Reduced back-office processing by 66%
- Decreased the default rate by 7%
- Reduced staff dedicated to verification by 67%