Federal Student Aid (FSA) provides over $75 billion in financial aid each year to over 10 million students attending over 6,500 schools. Among its most visible and essential services is the development, distribution, and processing of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). What is far less visible is the complexity of the business processes, systems, stakeholders, and human resources that make FSA work. FSA identified a need to increase the business knowledge of its own base of 1,000+ employees and 3,000+ contractors on the essentials of the student aid industry.
To address this need, GP Strategies™ was tasked to design and develop a Student Aid Essentials Curriculum. Its purpose is to help FSA staff and contractors understand the “big picture”—the roles and responsibilities of the key players; the lifecycle of a given loan; the integration and streamlining of systems to support the processes; and the connections between FSA and its financial partners, the schools, and the students. Our role was to (1) collaborate with FSA to establish a knowledge base that is consistent, applicable, and accessible to all employees; (2) organize this knowledge base into a modular curriculum that leverages technology and provides diverse ways for employees to acquire the knowledge; and (3) promote the curriculum to gain enterprise-wide participation. The work was divided into phases with initial focus on the development of Student Aid Front2Back—an online, interactive learning tool that provides a high-level introduction to the student aid process. Concurrently, we worked with FSA to expand the curriculum matrix to provide a framework for future development of modular and blended learning experiences using a combination of classroom training, web-based training, and brown bag events. A marketing and communication strategy was initiated to promote Student Aid Front2Back that will expand to other curriculum components as they are deployed.