Last year we replaced our homegrown Student Assistance Record system (STAR) with PowerFAIDS to better support our ability to attract talented students through strategic financial aid.
In addition to replacing our aging technology infrastructure supporting financial aid, PowerFAIDS has automated many manual processes for our SFS office and better integrates with other university systems like Slate and Workday Student. PowerFAIDS also makes it easier for us to update our processes in response to evolving federal financial aid policies.
Recent changes to financial aid processes
While PowerFAIDS has been live since fall 2020, aspects of the financial aid process continue to change as we release additional functionality within PowerFAIDS.
Financial aid disbursement & anticipated aid
Changes to the anticipated aid disbursement process went live on July 1. This change affects the way undergraduate day students see both institutional and federal financial aid in their accounts.
Until now, institutional aid posted to students’ accounts in late June, and federal aid posted closer to term start. PowerFAIDS, however, does not support multiple disbursements and requires a master or one-time disbursement date for each term. With this change, federal and institutional aid will post in students’ account as anticipated aid until the master disbursement date in August, when it changes to actual aid.
“Overall, the change to an anticipated aid model went smoothly,” said Valerie Jensen, deputy director of Student Financial Services. “It had the greatest impact on currently enrolled undergraduate day students because they’re accustomed to the prior billing process. To provide our returning students with as much help as possible, we emailed them details about the change and launched a webpage with instructions on how to understand the new bill.”
New students have never received a bill from WashU under the prior system, so they are unaffected by this change.
Work study job postings
Changes to the work study application process also occurred this summer. Previously, STAR housed work study job postings and processed work study applicants. Because PowerFAIDS does not have functionality to manage work study job postings, we will leverage CAREERlink – a web-based recruiting platform currently used by the Career Center for student job listings – to manage work study positions moving forward. (NOTE: Since this article was published, the Career Center has replaced CAREERlink with Handshake.)
Starting this summer, employers will now post all available work study jobs in CAREERlink. With this change, employers will benefit from a centralized space to more easily market their jobs to students and manage their postings.
“What’s exciting about CAREERlink is our department controls the entire hiring process,” notes Bill Larson, operations manager at the Edison Theater and 560 Music Center and one of the largest employers of work study students at the university.
“In the past, the Work Study Office assigned students to us based on their interests. We generally had success with the matches, but there was always a percentage of the assignments that weren’t a good fit for the job. Now, students apply directly to us through the job posting, and we can review applicant information immediately. We can control how long a job is posted and make changes to the posting as needed,” said Larson.
Students also will be able to visit a central site to apply directly to positions that spark their interest and meet their personal skill sets.
Following these system updates, our team will shift its focus to retiring STAR to ensure a seamless and complete transition to PowerFAIDS. We currently are developing plans for this, which we’ll review with impacted units ahead of the start of system retirement.