In February 2021, Dr. William Hudson, Florida A&M University’s VP of Student Affairs, joined Nicole Engelbert, Oracle’s VP of Higher Education, to discuss the affordability crisis in higher education. While the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated economic instability, affordability has always been a major challenge in higher education: tuition at U.S. institutions has more than doubled in the past twenty years and student loan debt has skyrocketed to an alarming $1.7 trillion. As Dr. Hudson says, the higher ed industry “falls short not just in terms of funding but in how we educate individuals on how to receive funding, and how difficult we make that process to get the funding…we’ve got to streamline some of the processes to make funds readily available to those who are most needy.”
The only public HBCU in Florida, FAMU prides itself on its ability to support a large population of first-generation, Pell-eligible students. The institution attracts students not only because of its commitment to social justice and academic excellence, but because of its low tuition and proven potential for social mobility. “The majority of our students are Pell-eligible, between 60-65 percent, and over 80-85 percent receive some type of financial assistance to go to college,” Dr. Hudson says. While the average household income of many FAMU students is below $40,000 a year, “with a degree from FAMU many students make more financially than their family income.”
Financial aid is a critical lever for enabling the success of FAMU students, Dr. Hudson says. “Many of our students have to work to support their families or to cover their own expenses. But financial aid allows them to focus on their academics and persist to graduation in four years.” In an effort to transform their financial aid capabilities, FAMU knew it needed an equally transformative financial aid tool: Oracle Student Financial Planning.
“If a student feels they have their financial aid all set up and they can focus solely on their academics - then their grades are going to improve, their persistence to graduation is going to improve, and their feeling about the campus and their experience is going to be better as well. All of that plays a role in student success.”
- Dr. William Hudson, VP of Student Affairs
Florida A&M University
“My vision for financial aid moving forward is going to be significantly impacted by Oracle [SFP],” Dr. Hudson says. He hopes that FAMU’s financial aid office will be known for its efficiency and excellent customer service, thanks to SFP’s streamlining of the application process, managing of electronic documents and signatures, simplified verification process, and more. He adds that “technology changes daily, so moving to a cloud platform was attractive to me,” as Oracle will manage all product updates, along with all changes to federal and state aid to keep FAMU in compliance. SFP will help the school with its goal of providing financial literacy as well: “leveraging technology to get rid of all the paperwork [will allow] our staff [to] spend more time educating students and parents and doing financial literacy with them early so that they understand what it means to take out a loan, and how it impacts them financially after college.”
To learn more about Dr. Hudson’s recommendations for other schools looking to reimagine their financial aid offices with SFP, watch the webinar or read a recent Inside Higher Ed piece featuring FAMU and another SFP adopter, Spring Arbor University. In the webinar, you can also see Oracle Principal Sales Consultant Dave Curran demo SFP from two different perspectives, the Student Portal and the Staff Dashboard, learn more about SFP’s minimum automation rate of 85 percent for aid processing, award packaging, and disbursing, and even discover how to create tailored analytics reports in real time.
If you’re interested in a demo of SFP, please contact your Oracle sales representative or email Oracle Strategic Sales Executive Derek Kurzenknabe (derek.kurzenknabe[at]oracle.com) and learn more about how you can build a financial aid office of the future at your institution, too.