Advice and Information for Finance Professionals

How CFOs Can Make Higher Education More Student-Centric and Affordable

Guest Author

By Joyce Kim, Product Manager, Higher Education Cloud, Oracle

In August 2020, the Chronicle of Higher Education held a virtual roundtable discussion with senior finance leaders in higher education. The group represented a diverse array of organizations, including state universities, a community college, a private liberal arts school, and NASPA, an organization devoted to student affairs. 

The executives spoke candidly about the financial and reputational costs of the pandemic: the urgency of building and maintaining student and staff trust, approaching campus safety while reopening, and planning for an uncertain financial future amidst budget cuts and decreased state funding.  (To learn more about their insights, read the Chronicle’s Roundtable Report, The Student-Centered College: A Financial Perspective.)

Helping institutions manage their financial challenges has been a fundamental priority for Oracle for a number of years. Solutions like Oracle Cloud ERPCloud HCM, and Cloud EPM can help higher ed customers get the insights and data they need to improve decision making, boost organizational agility, and forecast the financial impact of their decisions. In recent years, we’ve doubled down on our commitment to our institutions’ students, by developing technology and tools to help students chart a more affordable and accessible future. 

Our recent e-book, “Leveling the Playing Field: A Student-Centric Approach to Higher Education’s Affordability Crisis” (in collaboration with Huron Consulting Group), looks at how the industry’s current approach to financial aid must evolve—not just in terms of policies and programs, but also in how schools use technology. 

“While once considered merely a back-office function, financial aid has risen to become one of the single most influential factors in whether and where students choose to pursue a postsecondary education,” according to Nicole Engelbert, Oracle’s VP of Higher Education Development, and Steve Hahn, Huron’s Senior Director. “There is no question that the disruption facing colleges and universities across the country will have a significant impact on future financial aid policies and systems, and those institutions that prepare now will be better positioned to serve new generations of students in the years to come.” 

Likewise, the Chronicle’s panel notes that student persistence is one of the most critical issues affecting institutions this fall. Timely and optimal student financial aid is one of the most effective ways institutions can increase retention. Oracle’s Student Financial Planning (SFP) was built with this principle in mind.

Oracle SFP helps institutions make it easy and intuitive for students to explore their options for financial aid, so they can enroll (and stick with) their academic journey. It helps students automatically find and apply for funding as quickly (and safely) as possible— reducing the number of face-to-face meetings with advisors and freeing up staff to focus on education. 

With Oracle SFP and other cloud applications, Oracle is giving institutions the solutions they need to increase agility, become more student-centric, and navigate disruptions in the higher ed industry.

To learn more about Oracle’s partnership with our higher ed customers, be sure to check our three-part series on institutional resilience, including the next webcast, Is it Possible to Foster Innovation When the Bottom Falls out of the Institutional Budget? on September 8th at 2PM ET/11AM PT. 

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