Financial Aid – Policy and Procedure Manuals
Creating, updating and evaluating policies and procedures should be among the highest priorities in the financial aid office. Staff members in the financial aid office rely on these documents for training and compliance, as do auditors and program reviewers. Successful processing of financial aid and satisfaction of students is also connected to the operations of the financial aid office.
However, given the important nature of policies and procedures, many financial aid offices are not able to devote the time and resources to adequately document and update the policy and procedure manual of the office. Properly approached, financial aid offices should complete these activities for the policy and procedures manual.
- Develop – determine the policies that need to be included, locate existing policy and procedures, and nominate which staff and partner offices on campus should be involved
- Evaluate – create process flows for each activity to be included in the manual and consider if the current process meets the federal regulations and make improvements
- Write – determine who will write each chapter/section, review and update existing documents, use the process flows to create new documents, create template to organize policies
- Implement – change processes, communicate changes to the office, institution and students, as appropriate
- Maintain – determine a schedule for periodic review of each section of the policy and procedure manual and repeat the previous steps.
Procrastination and delays could be costly to the financial aid office. The policy and procures in many financial aid offices are either incomplete or old and badly out of date. Other offices use standard policy manuals that meet the “letter of the law”, but do not actually reflect the policies of the campus and also lack the institutional procedures. The policy manual cannot serve as a training and reference tool for staff and the benefits of evaluation of process are completely missed.