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“An Actual Miracle:” Financial Aid Participation Verification

Boise State students on the quad at tables talking together

Students drop classes for many reasons and, if they receive financial aid, the Financial Aid office requests that instructors report on the students’ participation in class. This is known as the “Financial Aid Participation Verification” process. For face-to-face classes, this can be as simple as an instructor reporting the student’s participation in class. But how does an instructor report on class participation in classes that utilize Blackboard?

Until recently, Financial Aid Participation Verification for classes utilizing Blackboard was a long, laborious process involving the instructor, the Financial Aid office, and several departments within the Office of Information Technology (OIT) to report on a student’s participation–the process could take up to a week. Even once all of the OIT processes were completed, there was a final clunky process for instructors to retrieve the data for the Financial Aid Office. Too often, the process was abandoned.

In May, our Learning Technology Solutions (LTS) team streamlined this process by utilizing a standard report in Blackboard Analytics for Learn (A4L), our recently implemented analytics tool for Blackboard. The “Course Submission Summary” report provides instructors details on a student’s most recent interaction in a Blackboard course involving two steps on one easy-to-use screen.

The best part of this new process is that it is entirely self-service for instructors. Now when the Financial Aid Office requests participation details, instructors can simply use the Course Submission Summary report in Blackboard to provide the required details. Quick and done!

So far this summer, the Financial Aid Office reports 100% instructor response to financial aid verification requests. An employee in the Financial Aid Office sent an email to LTS recently with the subject line: Miracle!

It’s an actual miracle! Even with instructors notoriously being away for summer, they can easily retrieve the info and respond within minutes. And all of the responses have been succinct, confusion-free, and animosity-free!

But what does this mean for students? Many students who rely on financial aid face factors outside of classes that can compromise their ability to maintain course-load requirements for financial aid eligibility which results in the student dropping a class. The ease-of-use and minimal time required to report on class participation in Blackboard classes results in more students potentially recouping Financial Aid dollars that would have been sent back to the Federal Government in cases where the reporting process was abandoned.

We know we’ve already saved a lot time and email traffic with this new process and hope to provide more comprehensive numbers on its impact to students, instructors, and employees over the next few semesters. Watch OIT News [LINK] for details in the coming months. If you have additional questions about the Course Submission Summary report in Blackboard, contact the LTS team at lts@boisestate.edu.

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