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New System Expanded to Streamline Processes for Managing Graduate Aid

Monday, December 7, 2020

Managing an academic department means understanding the many kinds of funding that come together to support that department's mission. This is especially important for graduate financial aid, where the university makes long-term commitments to fund graduate students, whether from research funding, fellowships, or general funds.

Thanks to a multi-year partnership with the School of Humanities and Sciences (H&S) and now four other key schools, University IT (UIT) successfully expanded the Graduate Financial Planning System (GFPS) — a forecasting system that enables the university to streamline the processes for planning graduate aid.

According to Jon Pilat, chief information officer of H&S, “GFPS has transformed the way that H&S approaches graduate aid.” 

This is no small feat and here’s why. 

Tracking multiple funding sources

Graduate aid, one of the university’s largest expenditures, is a complex line of business, incorporating multi-year financial commitments and funding from numerous internal and external sources. 

Historically, schools have managed graduate aid through manual processes, using homegrown systems and spreadsheets. These processes can often be less efficient, increase risk, and provide inadequate support to department, school, and university managers.

Planning and efficiency gains for H&S 

Five years into using GFPS, the School of H&S has seen significant improvement in the management of graduate aid resources and is more equipped to make long-term financial decisions. 

“The system has helped our departments make strategic decisions about graduate admissions and cohort sizes,” Pilat said. “We rely on the system to facilitate an ongoing conversation about planning for long-term financial sustainability between the Dean’s office and H&S departments.” 

Additionally, Pilat said he’s hopeful that the new streamlined processes will increase efficiencies for both staff and the community of graduate scholars as they pursue their advanced degrees. 

Other schools brought into the fold

H&S developed and managed GFPS for several years, and then partnered with UIT to expand the system to the Graduate School of Education (GSE) and the School of Medicine (SoM) in 2019. This year, UIT and H&S completed the second expansion phase to include the School of Earth, Energy, and Environmental Sciences (SE3) and plans to onboard the School of Engineering (SoE) in spring 2021.

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