For months now, newly accepted students have been facing the important decision of where to attend college. For most, one of the biggest factors will be how much money they are able to secure in financial aid. In order to help students make this crucial, time-sensitive decision, the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships (OFAS) at UMBC makes it a top priority to provide students with all the information and resources they need as soon as possible.
To do so, OFAS has picked up DocuSign, the electronic signature and digital workflow platform being utilized all throughout UMBC. By converting numerous key forms to DocuSign, OFAS hopes to expedite and simplify the process of securing financial aid for both students and staff. This includes giving students and parents direct, immediate access to the Scholarship Agreement, Loan Increase, Dependent Verification and other such forms through a secure email. The signer can then follow useful tooltips that guide them step by step through the form before sending it on its way with just a click of the mouse. A process that once took many days can now be completed in mere hours as DocuSign uses notifications and reminders to encourage rapid compliance.
OFAS staff worked hard with the Division of Information Technology to make these forms as intuitive as possible. For starters, these forms can pull information from UMBC databases and PeopleSoft to prepopulate numerous fields before the student even opens the document. Once the student enters the form, the fields that haven’t been filled out for them will contain restrictions such as character limits and formatting guides that can prevent the student from submitting the form with incorrect information. If mistakes do make it through, OFAS staff can terminate the form and resend it immediately along with an email clarifying what needs to be fixed. Compliance Specialist Joe Scott says that this flexibility along with quick communication makes it much easier to process these forms efficiently while also improving the experience for students and parents.
Associate Director Cory Ziegenfuss praises the significant reduction of time and paper spent signing, processing and storing these forms. Staff can assign the resources they’ve saved using DocuSign on other projects, thus improving the overall efficiency of the department.
Moving forward, OFAS will begin to develop new DocuSign projects, including forms for their Work Study program. By continuing to pursue efficient solutions, OFAS is helping UMBC advance as a modern university.