Catawba College implements new financial aid module
Catawba College News Service
There is celebration at Catawba College as the first of many offices on campus goes live with the new SunGard Higher Education Banner System.
In late January, after months of training and software preparation, the financial aid office began packaging financial aid for new fall 2011 students using the financial aid module of the system.
ěNowís the time that prospective students are trying to make decisions about which college to attend and so we want to have information in their hands so they can actually make a decision,î explained Melanie McCulloh, Catawbaís financial aid director.
ěThis new system is more automated and allows merit awards which are made based on SAT/ACT scores and grade point averages to automatically be plugged in to a studentís financial aid package.î
After fall 2011 registration, slated for March 28-31, McCullohís staff will begin packaging financial aid for returning students. Some returning students in the School of Evening and Graduate Studies have received their financial aid packages from the new module.
McCulloh said that more features of the financial aid module would come online during the summer, allowing work study funding and other financial aid information to be available to students.
ěThis new system will streamline our processes a little bit more. We are moving in the direction of going paperless, and although weíre not completely there yet, weíre getting there.î
Catawbaís implementation of the system on campus began in June 2009. It has allowed the college to convert disparate campus computing systems into a new enterprise system. Federally mandated changes to the financial aid software for the 2011-12 academic year made it imperative that Catawbaís financial aid office be the first to go live with the system.
Anna Swanson LaGreca, Catawbaís SunGard financial aid consultant, cheered the efforts of the Catawba team in getting the financial aid module up and running on schedule.
Members of Catawbaís team include Robin Misenheimer, programmer-analyst; Melanie McCulloh, director of financial aid; Tracie Hummel, associate director of financial aid; and Christy Clifton, assistant to the director of financial aid and work study coordinator.
Other departments that are in the process of converting to and training on the new system include the business office, human resources, admissions, the registrarís office, student affairs, development, institutional research and the School of Evening and Graduate Studies that handles admissions for the evening and graduate programs.
With one integrated computing system, data can be entered once, and then shared by various departments. Retrieval of accurate historic data will be simplified and accurate current information readily available.
Students will be able to register for classes online, while alumni can update their data and track their institutional gifts online.
Prospective students will be able to track the status of their application, get information online tailored to their unique interests, and make connections with faculty, staff, students and alumni.
The new system will allow Catawba to complete its own payroll rather than outsourcing, as is now the case. Information that is distributed or approved through manual paper processes, such as budget information and purchasing requests, can be electronically distributed and approved, saving labor and paper costs, while getting accurate information and necessary approvals to the people who need those more quickly.
On the Catawba campus, Susan Agner, director of administrative computing, serves as the Banner project manager. She and the implementation team assure that appropriate data is converted into the new enterprise system, that training occurs, and that project implementation deadlines are met.
When Catawba students register for fall 2011 classes March 28-31, they will not stand in line outside the registrarís office waiting for their turn to submit faculty adviser-approved class schedules. Instead, they can do it online.
Although the students will still work with their faculty advisers on schedules, their registration process will be streamlined thanks to another feature of the new system that went live in March.
On March 1, Catawbaís Computer Services introduced a new version of CatLink, the college communityís web portal. The new version, CatLink 3.0 interfaces with Banner and allows members of the community to access information such as class schedules and grades, while also providing single sign-on access to other campus systems such as e-mail and Blackboard.
Students will consult their advisers during the weeks of March 14 and March 21, determining which courses to take. Training sessions for advisers, faculty and academic support staff were offered in February in preparation for student advising and online registration.