Financial Aid Strategy Tooling

The College Board is the nation’s leading provider of services to the higher-education community. Besides its well known testing programs, one of the Board’s core businesses is managing information about financial aid. Solveda has worked with the College Board on a number of projects and was tasked with delivering two key improvements for the Board’s financial aid services. First, the Board wanted to create a sophisticated strategy tool that would help member schools better predict enrollment profiles and financial aid scenarios. And second, the Board wanted to extend the capabilities of its PowerFAIDS financial aid software, which client schools use to manage their aid programs.

I have worked with Solveda for many years, and their dependability is unquestioned. I knew that Solveda would be able to deliver complex engineering tooling for our clients and had no hesitation in engaging with them. I was not disappointed, the solutions were of a very high quality, delivered on time and within the budget.

Harry Layman,Director of IT, The College Board

Solution

  • Solveda tackled the College Board’s objectives in two projects. First, Solveda developers engineered the Financial Aid Strategy Tool (FAST). This statistical analysis engine uses institutional enrollment data and advanced econometric modeling techniques to help schools achieve their enrollment goals while staying within financial aid budgets. FAST was built using a variety of Java development components.
  • Next, Solveda created MassFAIDS, an enhancement of PowerFAIDS designed for the Massachusetts Office of Student Financial Assistance (OSFA), one of the College Board’s clients. MassFAIDS extends PowerFAIDS from an individual application to an institutional one, enabling OSFA to determine the optimal distribution of aid money. MassFAIDS was built using PowerBuilder, with web-based components developed using Java.

Behind FAST

The Financial Aid Strategy Tool (FAST) is a compelling new product for the College Board. FAST lets schools play sophisticated “what if?” games with enrollment forecasts by culling data from recent years, matching it against different financial aid scenarios, and predicting the corresponding enrollment profiles. In essence, FAST mines a school’s historical data to identify factors that will influence current applicants and their enrollment decisions.

  • Its user-friendly interface enables school administrators to harness the power of sophisticated web-based modeling and simulation tools
  • It can measure a wide variety of variables, such as the impact of a grant on a student’s probability of enrolling or the effect of policy changes on tuition revenue or class characteristics
  • It allows schools to model multiple award-packaging strategies and match them against enrollment goals that take into account student quality, diversity, tuition revenue, and need-based vs. merit aid
  • It suggests potential policy changes that will optimize enrollment, maintain equity and fairness, and support the school’s overall educational mission.

Behind MassFAIDS

PowerFAIDS is a popular College Board product, used by more than 500 schools around the country to manage their internal financial aid programs. The Solveda team had a key role in the development of PowerFAIDS with its design of the PowerFAIDS Report Writer component, which expands the capabilities of PowerFAIDS by incorporating the federal government’s comprehensive feed of financial aid data. MassFAIDS takes things another step further.

  • MassFAIDS was built for the Massachusetts OSFA to help it optimize its distribution of $45 million in grant money
  • By allowing OSFA officials to sample different grant disbursement scenarios, MassFAIDS enables them to target the most equitable grant formula for students and schools, all while using the familiar PowerFAIDS interface
  • MassFAIDS integrates the copious federal data with information about state schools and the needs of its state-resident students’whether they choose to attend college in Massachusetts or elsewhere
  • As a separate feature, MassFAIDS also allows the state to administer its no-interest loan (NIL) program