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UB 2020

University at Buffalo's strategic plan

Student Services Transformation Updates

Past Student Financials Updates

November 2010

Just as the title suggests, student accounts revolves around the assessment and collection of tuition and fee revenue. Just prior to the student financials go-live (May 2, 2011), we will have just concluded the billing cycle for the 2010-2011 academic year. However, the fiscal year end is June 30th and we continue to work on collections well past that date. Considerable effort has gone into planning for tracking the student accounts that have unpaid balances as we move into the new system. The team is mapping out the aging of accounts functionality along with existing collection processes. Service indicators are used to identify accounts in various stages of collections – enabling the office to know if an account is ready to be sent to collections, either to the collection agency or to the attorney general -and if the account has been returned to the campus. Those service indicators will carry a negative impact, just as the current Bursar checkstop does, to prevent registration and other services until the account is fully satisfied.

Student financials continues to collaborate through cross modular meetings. UBSIS is an integrated system, with every team carefully monitoring how changes made within their module may impact others. These meetings include representatives from all of the modules and the topics range from program plan, student groups, integration and bundle testing, self-service update and term session data changes (to name a few).

The team is also working closely with the Office of Financial Aid on the financial aid disbursement schedule. The disbursement schedule for financial aid directly impacts the establishment of a refunding schedule. More information will be relayed in the next update regarding this.

Efforts are ongoing to map out and test the numerous custom developments that are required to support our business functions. We communicate regularly with various departments that rely on the billing systems that make our student accounts complete. We are testing processes that impact work at the departmental level and making plans for staff training to ensure that everyone is able to navigate screens in the new system.

September 2010

Student Financials continues to make progress on the many components that make up our module.  The Student Financials module is one of the last modules to go live on May 2, 2011.  While students will be able to see many things in the Student Center prior to our go live, there will be instructional messages and links that will talk about the changes that are coming.  Like the other modules, we are actively involved in integration testing, to take a student from admission to registration and all points in between  through to billing and acceptance of payments.

We have established security roles that are comparable with the existing roles that we have for access to the Bursar system in legacy. In addition, we have created a few new roles that will be of benefit to an office in the event they should have student employment (requiring limited access).   The testing of those roles to insure that appropriate access (or not) is granted will be undertaken in the upcoming months.

We are working closely with Financial Services to insure that the accounting of revenue and collections is accurate and can be tracked and reported in accordance with existing requirements.  Significant effort is being taken to interface with Financial Services to generate the required accounting entries that are needed for the non-UBSIS General Ledger System.

UBSIS will replace the existing cashiering system utilized in Student Academic Records and Financial Services.  Specific configuration of the cashier component, such as adding cashiers, defining cashier offices, rules & requirements has been set and will undergo a variety of testing. In addition, cashiering processes such as posting of payments to an account, change on payments and opening, closing, re-opening cashier office must be thoroughly tested.  Existing cashiering staff will be engaged in this testing.

Student Financials has been working with both Housing and Food service in the testing of external files.  External files are one of two means to capture charge (debit & credit) information for posting to the student’s account.  Understanding the requirements of this process and what it can and cannot do has been a learning process for all involved. 

July 2010

Student Financials has been engaged in integrated testing with the other modules.  We have worked to identify various student scenarios from initial admission to calculating tuition and fees.  We have been pleased with the initial results.  It has afforded us an opportunity to confirm that the system configuration was functioning, and also identified scenarios where it did not work as anticipated, requiring some re-thinking and re-configuration. We have also benefitted from seeing first hand navigation and set up in a module other than our own!

Because Student Financials is so interconnected with Financial Aid, we have implemented bi-weekly meetings to map out the current business process and determine how they will be addressed in UBSIS.  We continue to meet with other modules as needed to map current processes and how they will be impacted by the implementation of UBSIS.

One change that students will see very soon is the addition of another online option for paying their student account.  In addition to being able to pay by credit card, students will be able to pay by check (eCheck) commencing June 23, 2010.  This will be an added option in UB ePay which is free to the student.  Students will be able to choose to have payments come from either a checking or savings account.  All that is needed will be the routing number and account number.  This option will be available to anyone making a payment through UB ePay.  It is a big win for everyone.  Additional communications will soon be forthcoming.

With the increase in opportunities to pay online, we hope to significantly decrease or eliminate the need for the lockbox where students mail in check payments.

June 2010

The Student Financials team continues to work closely with the SARFS (Student Academic Records & Financial Services) leadership as we move closer to adoption. We’re testing converted legacy data and have collaborated with the Campus Community team to examine the intersection with biographical data.

Student Financials security set up has been established for those individuals who will function as cashiers. One of the ways that unique student populations will be selected for specific charges is through the use of equation variables. Student Financials has identified those charges that will need to be assessed through these variables and is working with the other modules and campus departments to equate the criteria that are currently used in legacy to the criteria, terms and coding in UBSIS. In addition, we have completed the set up of the Summer 2010 adjustment calendar, which was needed for summer session billing.

Nelnet Business Solutions™, a third party software, will be used in conjunction with UBSIS to provide some of the previously mentioned gains for students, i.e., e-Billing, direct deposit of all refunds and online account transactions. The Student Financials team, in conjunction with the current e-Pay system administrators, has been working together to map out the functional specifications document so that Nelnet can be further integrated. When Student Financials goes live in May 2011, SARFS will move toward becoming PCI (payment card industry) compliant. More information about those changes will be shared in upcoming months.

April 2010

The Student Financials team has made significant progress from the previous update, and we’re working at more detailed levels with SARFS leadership to resolve a number of issues as we move closer to adoption.  We now have an understanding of how to address SUNY reporting requirements for converted account balances.  We have begun testing the conversion of legacy data (debit balances, credit balances, delinquent accounts, B checkstops, comments, etc.) into the appropriate UBSIS categories (service indicators).  A meeting is scheduled in May to continue efforts on legacy  direct loan reconciliation and holding accounts for all funds, and we’re making sure we’re in compliance with all Payment Card Industry standards.

The team is gaining an understanding of the functionality that is being gained with the implementation of the new ePay system.  There are a number of significant gains realized through this adoption, including:

  • Electronic student accounts billing statement (eliminating the generation of paper bills);
  • Students will be able to pay via ACH online;
  • Student account transactions will be available for viewing online;
  • Students will be able to designate authorized users to have access to view account details and make payments;
  • Refunds of most credit balances will be available automatically;
  • Online sign up for student to request direct deposit of refunds;
  • Online sign up for parent to request direct deposit of Parent Plus loans;
  • Improvements to the UB Time Payment Plan; and
  • Better integration with Financial Aid.

These new features will require training for staff in the use of the new system, as well as new or revised policies to support this functionality.  We are working with SARFS leadership to develop and communicate policy changes, and will be reporting back on this in future updates.

November 2009

Over past several weeks, we have made significant headway in setting up the system, especially in areas where our functionality relates to other offices. In sum, we have concentrated our efforts on the following:

  • Develop the initial functional specifications for the file layouts for the UB Card Office;
  • Continue our discussion of the SUNY reporting requirements for converted account balances;
  • Finalize the documents regarding the data conversion and business processes for the accounts flagged for collection;
  • Touch base with Financial Aid regarding Alternative Loan processing, Direct Loan reconciliation, and the separation of duties;
  • Preview the waiver process with Student Financial Processing;
  • Began review of business processes surrounding third-party payments;
  • Continue refinement of security roles

Over the next several months, we will continue to configure the new system, define our business processes, and test the converted data. Thank you to all of you who have devoted time and effort to this project. We appreciate your efforts and will keep you informed of our progress in the near future.

August 2009

Over the past month, we have been working on several functional components of the Student Financials module. Our set-up activities include the tuition and college fee general ledger journals, tuition groups for study abroad and cross-registered students, as well as cashiering transactions. We have established the criteria for billing New York State tuition, IFR tuition and the various components of the comprehensive fee. We have begun preliminary runs for processing payments, voiding payments and posting third-party payments.

In addition, we have begun creating the security roles for the student financials module that will help us to determine who should receive what access. These roles will also help us to define our training efforts.

Over the next few months, we will be completing the requisite set-up tables for the module and establish our testing scenarios.

We would like to thank all Core Team Members and Subject Matter Experts who have devoted their time to this effort.

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