Two-way interface keeps financial aid office and bookstore on the same page

FA~Link by Trimdata updates student accounts in real time
By: | Issue: May/June 2020 | Case Study
May 8, 2020

It was spring 2011, and the financial aid staff at Bucks County Community College were awash in labor-intensive processes to meet the unrelenting demand for information.

“Students were wrapped around the building, waiting for someone to review their financial aid accounts so ´ knew how much money they had to buy books for the new semester,” recalls Assistant Director of Financial Aid Jack Labarko. “I had just come from a highly automated department, so when I saw staff writing out little cards for students, I thought: ‘What is this?’ It took me back a bit.”

1 of 3 integrations: Colleague

That legacy system has since been replaced by FA~Link, a two-way interface that connects the financial aid office and the Follett-operated school bookstore. As students at the suburban Philadelphia institution shop in-store or online, their accounts are updated in real time so there are no discrepancies between the bookseller and the financial aid office. Students can access their accounts from any device, and FA~Link integrates with Ellucian Colleague, the school’s ERP system. FA~Link also integrates with Oracle PeopleSoft and Ellucian Banner.

“We’re no longer inundated on the first few days of classes,” Labarko says. “Staff can now concentrate on higher-level issues, such as helping students complete verification paperwork online. They are not busy looking up account balances, reconciling reports, or investigating and correcting errors.”

Making student purchasing easier

Trimdata works with these POS partners:

  • Barnes & Noble College
  • Follett
  • MBS
  • Booklog
  • Nebraska Book Company
  • Texas Book Company
  • BBA Solutions
  • Akadémos
  • Ambassador
  • eCampus
  • Rosero
  • And others…

Working remotely during COVID-19

The system flags items not eligible for purchase with financial aid, saving cashiers from manually checking each purchase. Additionally, the FA~Link reporting feature allows Labarko to see how much is being spent on each of the community college’s three campuses.

“And we’re able to process our veterans’ vouchers through FA~Link,” Labarko says. “Veterans have a special cohort and require special services, so this has been a great bonus.”

A particularly timely benefit: activating bookstore credits when Labarko can’t get onto campus. “It’s been truly great while we’re working remotely,” he says from his home during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We can operate at 100 percent.”