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Student Services Transformation Updates

Past Financial Aid Updates

November 2010

The financial aid team has been working collaboratively in preparation for the scheduled February go-live in HUB. Specifically, the functional and technical team members have been working on the New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) customization. NYS TAP is a large financial aid program, which requires a great deal of time and detailed customization to function properly in the new UBSIS.  We have also been testing other customizations, including e-consent, admissions institutional merit scholarships, single semester awarding  and ISIR edits.

We have also been working closely with the UBSIS training team to groom and revise test scripts, making sure that terminology and processes are clear. The Security team has been reviewing staff member access to the test (TST) environment, as we work to determine row- level and page security for required staff members. Legacy data has been converted into this environment and we’re working to validate the functionality and conversion.
Student financials and the financial aid teams continue to work closely together to review touch-points as the process moves forward and including extensive integration testing in the entire environment on a monthly basis.

We continue to appreciate the work of the financial aid core team members and subject matter experts as we move forward.

September 2010

The Financial Aid team has continued participation with integration testing in preparation for module go-live in February 2011. During our most recent testing event, we identified one issue, which was promptly revisited within configuration and easily remedied in UBSIS. The staging of various scenarios, moreover identifying unique student situations within the testing environment, is an ongoing process. We are hopeful that our next integration testing event in September will produce similar, if not better, results than our most recent experience.

Additional CIBER Consultants are on board with the SST project and they are working on the construction of our approved customizations and interfaces. Recently, the team had a demonstration of the “E-Consent” customization. This customization enables UB to correspond electronically with students with their authorization.  Also, the customization includes the regulatory requirement pertaining to Title IV Financial Aid application to Student Financial charges. The E-Consent customization has been moved into the test environment within UBSIS to enable the Financial Aid team to start testing.  
 
The Admissions Institutional Merit Scholarships customization is currently being developed collaboratively between CIBER and UB staff. Last week, we were able to see the customization within UBSIS and thus far, the progress looks great. Testing the customization from a Financial Aid perspective should begin shortly. Additional customizations the Financial Aid Module has been working on include Institutional Scholarship Processing and Summer Aid Processing.

July 2010

The  Financial Aid team has collaborated closely with other modules during integration testing.  During these test events, the Financial Aid Module was able to Load an ISIR, Build FA Term, Build a Student Budget and Manually Award Aid for a student. This process uncovered a few glitches that we’re currently investigating.

Some core team and subject matter experts (SME’s) are working to develop new checklist items (as well as confirming the current set-ups in UBSIS). We have completed approximately 20 out of 60 test scripts modeling various scenarios and will soon determine which scripts will be included in upcoming training. Once all test scripts are complete, we will begin additional testing and incorporate more SME’s and core team members to assist. Tentatively, we anticipate this to begin in July or August 2010 and continue up until we go live.

Currently, we are compiling information and building specifications to replace and/or accommodate our current federal loan database. Also, we are working with student financials and building a specification for interfaces once we have cutover to UBSIS. We’re also considering a customization that will address some security issues within the Student Services Center. We’re also excited that Communication Generation (Com-Gen) is going to enable e-communication as the predominant communication method, helping UB efforts to go green.

The Financial Aid team was also pleased to welcome Eric Lynch to UB. Eric is an external consultant who has a very strong background in this type of work and has been helping the team make tremendous progress with Equation Engines, Packaging Plans, Communication Generation queries and grooming our initial setup. Eric’s guidance helps us stay on track with our official go-live in February 2011.

June 2010

The Financial Aid team continues to collaborate closely with Student Financials, meeting on a regular basis to iron out different touch-points identified with implementing UBSIS.  We recently completed a new data conversion document regarding information from our current student aid management system (SAMS), which will be necessary for successful conversion.  Legacy data, for a variety of reasons, must remain available after various UBSIS modules go-live.
We have been engaged in a number of activities. Subject matter experts have assisted with vetting the Financial Aid security roles and security levels in the UBSIS test environment. The Financial Aid team has also assisted the Campus Community team with testing biographical items in the test environment, which was applied during the integration testing “kick off.”  We are continuing to develop scripts to support all aspects of ongoing testing. The team identified additional items types (previously known as Aid ID’s) that will be added into the new UBSIS.

We are actively developing separate item types for New York State scholarships. In the current SAMS legacy system, the scholarships are often posted as part of the NYS TAP (Tuition Assistance Program) award rather than being itemized by a specific award name. In UBSIS, these scholarships will be identifiable by unique titles – for example: “NY Lottery Leaders of Tomorrow”, “WTC Memorial Scholarship” or “Child of a Veteran Award.”  Itemizing each item type instead of grouping them together will reduce staff as well as student confusion relating to the sources and funding amounts. We anticipate that more granular details will be useful to students and parents alike!

April 2010

The Financial Aid team has been working closely with the Financial Aid staff to assess a number of processes, focusing on dependencies and intersections with other functional areas, and on data conversion and retention.  One of these intersections is the Admissions Institutional Merit Scholarship process, and we’ve been working with other modules and university departments to complete a business case for customizing the system to meet UB’s needs for this process.

Another area of emphasis has been on identifying and cataloging the communications that Financial Aid sends to students.  UBSIS will allow us to send many of these communications using a tool called Communication Generation (ComGen). 

We are moving these processes into a test environment and will be testing with departmental volunteers.  We have begun loading the 2010-2011 ISIRs into this test environment, and have begun using a UBSIS tool called Equation Engine to assist with awarding aid to students.  This test environment also allows us to set up and assess security levels and roles so that they will be ready for when we go live.   We look forward to working more closely with those who have “hands-on” time with the current system to help us address any remaining issues as we migrate to UBSIS.

The implementation process has taught us that, although UBSIS will bring many benefits, there are challenges to moving to a new system.  One of these is the terminology that is in the new system.  The first term is the name of the system itself – UBSIS, which stands for University at Buffalo Student Information System.  Within the system, UB has an institution name (sometimes referred to as SetID), which is UBFLO.  UBSIS also has “Careers,” which are similar to what we currently call “Divisions.” UBSIS will have 6 different Careers: Undergraduate, Graduate, Pharmacy, Law, Medical, and Dental.  Each career can have unique academic calendars, tuition rates, and grading schemes.  Some more terminology changes can be found in our UBSIS Glossary on the UBSIS training website at: http://ubsistraining.buffalo.edu/pdfs/glossary.pdf  .

The set up, testing, and terminology changes are all part of the iterative implementation process. Training, exposure to the system, and hands-on navigation within UBSIS will present the opportunity for better understanding of the new system and its functions.

November 2009

Happy fall. The Financial Aid Module of the Student System Transformation Project is progressing well. The configuration stage is still underway and soon we will transition to the modeling phase. Below you will find more information about the Financial Aid Module.

During the past couple of weeks, we reached out to our Core Team Members as well as Subject Matter Experts to complete the Security Awareness webinar. Core Team Members and Subject Matter Experts have completed the webinar and returned the completed confidentiality data agreement form. We appreciate the positive feedback many of you provided via the educational webinar as well as your participation in meeting this requirement. Recently, we conducted our initial PeopleSoft log in, navigation, and test script training with Core Team Members and Subject Matter Experts for the Financial Aid Module. Overall, the initial training events were well attended and beneficial for everyone.

Recently, we kicked off our monthly conference call with SUNY peer, the University at Albany. Also, we are in the process of working on the following items: business case and functional specifications for potential customizations; compiling data for our item type setup; packaging plans within PeopleSoft; an inventory list of communications; and developing test scripts.

We appreciate your time, feedback, and participation as we transition to a new student system. Be on the lookout for our next Financial Aid Module update and best wishes this fall season. GO BULLS!

August 2009

The Financial Aid Module of the Student System Transformation Project is progressing well. We are still in the configuration stage—below is a brief update of our progress to date.

Recently, we had the opportunity to participate in a training and development event with the Financial Aid staff. During this half-day learning opportunity, we provided a brief overview of the financial aid functionality. Using a “mock” student, we activated the financial aid year, built a financial aid term, created a student’s financial aid budget and awarded a student a financial aid package.

Some additional items we have been working on include coordinating PeopleSoft access for our Subject Matter Experts and Core Team members, identifying and defining security roles and descriptions, developing business cases, reviewing our tasks in accordance with the project timeline, and making strides in reducing the action log items from our fit/gap sessions.

We will continue to work on configuring the financial aid module as we move into the fall season.

May 2009

We would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to the newly created PeopleSoft implementation Financial Aid Module listserv. The sole purpose of this listserv is to provide members of the university community with monthly updates about the Financial Aid Module implementation. Currently, this listserv group is comprised mostly of UB Financial Aid community, which includes Subject Matter Experts, Core Team members, and staff members who attended previous fit/gap sessions. If you learn of a staff member who did not receive this e-mail and he/she has interest in joining this listserv group, feel free to e-mail me their first and last name, as well as their UB e-mail address. My e-mail address is bmcenroe@buffalo.edu. I will be happy to add them.

A few weeks ago, Julie Simpson arrived to campus to assist with the Financial Aid Module implementation. I will provide you with some financial aid items we have been working on within PeopleSoft since Julie’s arrival. We have developed the aid year setup, defined federal financial aid year, developed aid careers, developed budget categories, developed budget items, and developed budget formulas. Also, we have scheduled and conducted some meetings to help orientate you with PeopleSoft. We have reached out to many of you and will continue to seek your expertise during the implementation. Thus far, we appreciate your feedback and the information you have provided us has been great.

We look forward to working with you more closely as we continue implementing the Financial Aid Module within PeopleSoft. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact me.

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