In this article, you'll learn how to offer percentage-based financial aid awards to your students.
A quick overview
Percentage-based awards—as opposed to regular awards that offer a set amount—are calculated to cover a certain percentage of student charges, which, of course, may vary from student to student. These awards can also be directed at a certain kinds or combinations of charges (e.g. tuition-only, fees & bookstore, et. al.) For example, say you offer a 10% award for tuition charges. Part-time student Joe Hagedorn is charged $2,100 tuition and receives a $210 award; full-time student Riana Bolano is charged $11,240, and receives a $1,124 award.
For purposes of offering aid and producing financial aid award letters, percentage-based awards rely on COA figures derived from student aid applications (these figures, in turn are derived from COA categories and aid classifications). For example, Riana is classified as a full-time undergraduate; the tuition component of the 9-month COA is $24,760. The award letter that includes the 10% aid award will display an amount of $2,476 (you can also choose to include the percentage on the award letter).
Since the COA may differ from what Riana is ultimately invoiced, the amount actually awarded may differ from the amount that was offered. It might be helpful to think of the offered amount as a kind of placeholder.
Keeping all this in view, setting up percentage-based awards involves these items:
- Of course, you'll need to set up percentage-based award types.
- You'll need to choose how to auto-calculate the amounts of these awards in Financial Aid > Settings.
- To cover financial aid offers and award letters:
- You'll need to set up COA categories...
- ...and include them in aid classifications...
- ...and stay on top of student aid applications.
Financial Aid > Settings > General
The amount of the award depends on how it's calculated; you have three options for how to handle that depending on your school's situation.
- Go to Financial Aid > Settings > General.
- Find the Percentage Award Calculation setting.
- Choose an option from the drop-down:
- Invoiced charges: Waits to calculate the award until the relevant charges have been invoiced.
- Invoiced and pending charges: Includes pending charges in the auto-calculation (the final award amount will still be determined by what ends up invoiced). This lets the amount capture enrollments and other billing events as they happen.
- None: Cancels the auto-calculation. This is handy in case you don't want any amount calculated for a certain time—for example, during an enrollment period, when the amount might fluctuate a lot as students add and drop courses.
Setting up an award type
Setting up a percentage-based award type is much like setting up a regular financial aid award.
- Go to Financial Aid > Settings > Award Types.
- Click Add Award Type.
- Fill out the award details.
- Check next to Percentage Based.
- Check the kinds of charges to which this award may be applied.
- Enter the percentage amount this award type will cover.
- For example, if you want the award to cover 10% of total tuition, fees, and bookstore charges, you would check next to Tuition, Fees, and Bookstore and then enter 10 in the percentage field.
- Finish adding the rest of the award type's details and click Save.
As soon as you've set up the award type, it's ready to use. But you'll also want to have a look at a couple other things:
COA Categories and Aid Classifications
As mentioned above, percentage-based awards rely on COA figures derived from student aid applications (which are usually based on COA categories and aid classifications) when you're offering aid and producing financial aid award letters. You'll want to make sure that your COA categories and aid classifications are sufficiently defined for your purposes.
You can still offer these awards without setting up COA categories and aid classifications, but you'll need to manually-calculate the offered amount.
With all of the above items set up, here's what will happen when you offer/package a percentage-based award:
- You'll add the award just as you would any other.
- Provided you have enabled one of the auto-calculation methods, the award's gross amount will auto-fill based on the percentage amount and the COA categories to which the award applies.
- If you're scheduling disbursements, they will be based on this COA-calculated gross amount.
- When you print the student's aid offer letter, the amounts on the letter will reflect these COA-based amounts. You should consider telling the student that these amounts are subject to change pending the finalization of their charges.
Before disbursing awards
Percentage-based awards are disbursed like any other award: via a disbursement batch. Although no special steps are necessary during the disbursement phase, you will want to pay attention to a few things before running the batch:
- The final amount of a disbursement is based on the amount of eligible charges that are invoiced in a given term. This amount may be different than what was offered to the student. Make sure you communicate with the student in case the amounts differ.
- Typical practice is to disburse aid after charges are invoiced. However, these steps may need to be reversed under certain circumstances. If you disburse a percentage-based award before charges are invoiced:
- The amount will be based on the appropriate COA categories.
- Should the invoiced amount differ from the amount derived from COA, Populi will automatically generate either an additional disbursement (in case invoices exceed COA) or a refund-to-source (in case COA exceeds invoices).
- The disbursement amount will be calculated when term charges are invoiced.
- You also have a few manual recalculation options (use these only after charges have been invoiced!):
- On the Awards report, click Actions and select Recalculate percentage awards. Any such awards currently returned by the report's filters will be recalculated.
- On Profile > Financial Aid, use the Recalc award option to update the amounts for an individual award.