Six Higher Education Institutions Make Strides with Oracle Student Financial Planning

August 30, 2021
by Sierra-Cedar

Despite facing daunting challenges over the past 18 months, our friends in higher education continue to strive for improvement. They aim to provide students with high visibility into their programs, and they aspire for students and their families to have real-time access to financial information. Why? Because when students are in control of their higher education path and investment, they are more apt to graduate, achieve social mobility, and share their education with the world – which is the goal of any institution. Oracle Student Financial Planning (SFP) provides a system for colleges and universities to accomplish this goal. Below is a glimpse into what led six Sierra-Cedar customers to the Oracle Student Financial Planning (SFP) application and their respective journeys.

Customer 1 – Seeking Federal Compliance Functionality
This private, Ivy League research university has 61% of its undergraduate students receiving financial aid and is implementing Oracle SFP primarily to take advantage of its federally compliant functionality. The University uses a custom processing system that supports its institutional financial aid philosophy and methodology. The custom system relied on the US Department of Education’s software to deliver required federal functionality. Because Oracle SFP offered the same functionality with added features, the University decided to replace the Department of Education’s software with Oracle SFP and integrate it with its custom financial aid processing system. Before starting the implementation, Sierra-Cedar conducted Interactive Design and Prototype workshops to gather University requirements and create a roadmap. Oracle SFP enables the University to maintain federal compliance while delivering financial aid to its student populations.

Customer 2 – Teaming With Oracle to Make Oracle SFP Better
One of the first institutions to implement Oracle SFP is a Division 1 Big Ten University enrolling more than 50,000 students and offering more than 200 programs across 17 colleges. Sierra-Cedar worked with the University to bring live Oracle SFP functionality throughout the 2020-2021 aid year following the student lifecycle. Oracle designated this University as a member of its Charter Program due to its early adopter status and worked with the Sierra-Cedar and University team to identify gaps, work through fixes, and provide future Oracle SFP roadmap items. The University is actively loading students’ ISIRs, performing verification, budgeting, awarding financial aid, processing loans, and integrating financial aid information with Campus Solutions so students can view their anticipated aid. The team is working toward implementing additional functionality, such as PLUS loans for multi-borrowers and improved reporting. Oracle SFP was successfully deployed in conjunction with a PeopleSoft Campus Solutions 9.2 implementation.

Customer 3 – Helping Economically Disadvantaged & 1ST Generation Students
This next institution is a top Historically Black College and University (HBCU) that aims to better serve its 11,000 students by transforming the financial aid process, particularly for economically disadvantaged and first-generation college students and their parents. More than half of this University’s students receive financial aid, and approximately 65% of its undergraduate students are eligible for Federal Pell Grants. In less than nine months, the institution went from loading ISIRs to budgeting and awarding, processing loans and Pell Grants, and finally releasing disbursements and preparing for the return of Title IV funds. Throughout the Oracle SFP project, the Sierra-Cedar and University team adapted quickly to changing circumstances, including working remotely due to COVID-19, adjusting student requirements due to a shift in federal financial aid verification rules, and creating fund types for a last-minute increase in scholarship funds for students. To make the implementation even more successful, Sierra-Cedar’s technical team developed two configuration accelerators that are now reusable for future Oracle SFP implementations.

Customer 4 & 5 – Teaming Together to Reduce Cost
The saying, “two is better than one” rang true when two HBCU Universities teamed together to implement Oracle SFP in a strategic initiative to reduce overall costs. These Universities are members of a state university system with enrollments of 6,250 students and 2,700 students. Large portions of both student populations are economically disadvantaged and first-generation college students who require financial assistance, with 50-60% being Federal Pell Grant eligible. The Universities chose Sierra-Cedar to implement Oracle SFP to replace existing PeopleSoft Campus Solutions 9.2 Financial Aid systems. To streamline the Oracle SFP deployment, Sierra-Cedar is working with both Universities together to gather requirements and conduct functional and technical knowledge transfer workshops.

Customer 6 – Improving Financial Aid Process
Our final client is a university with an enrollment of more than 71,000 students that was using two legacy systems for its student financial aid processes, including a homegrown system. One of the University’s institutional priorities was to improve financial aid processes for its students. Oracle SFP was the first step in addressing a critical need to replace aging systems and prepare the University for future deployment of Oracle Student Management Cloud (SMC). In leading this implementation, Sierra-Cedar helped review all current financial aid business processes and design and document new business processes to align with Oracle SFP functionality. The University intends for the reengineered processes to enable staff to manage student financial plans individually, automatically, and in real-time to support student success.

To learn more about these Oracle SFP client experiences, reach out to the Sierra-Cedar Higher Education Team at highered@sierra-cedar.com.

Click here to read more details about Sierra-Cedar Oracle SFP success stories.