In this episode of the Complexity Simplified podcast, Summit Consulting director Samuel Dugger and Guidehouse partner Jay Hurt discuss how Federal Student Aid (FSA) used data and customer metrics to improve user experience and demonstrate its impact on students and borrowers. Federal Student Aid, part of the U.S. Department of Education, was designated as a performance-based organization (PBO) 25 years ago, in 1998—the first government office to receive such a designation. According to the Congressional Research Service, “PBOs are intended to be business-like, results-driven organizations that have clear objectives and measurable goals designed to improve an agency’s performance and transparency.”
As part of its journey, FSA defined its end customers as students and borrowers as well as established clear customer output and outcome metrics. One outreach campaign, “My Story,” published short 30- or 60-second vignettes about a person whose life had been significantly changed by having financial access to higher education. The campaign reached FSA’s approximately 10 million aid recipients that year and had a major impact on borrower experience.
Dugger notes, “FSA employs sophisticated customer experience tools to ensure that their work is impacting that experience. These tools include user experience research and design, data-driven communication methodologies, and coordinated customer relationship management.” User experience research involves methods such as surveys on the bottom of FSA’s web pages, questions on social media, and A/B testing of email components.
Hurt adds, “The Summit Consulting and Guidehouse team includes a UX researcher and a UX designer who directly support FSA’s Product Design Group by conducting generative and evaluative research and design for several FSA products and services, including income-driven repayment and the 2024–25 FAFSA, which is FSA’s flagship product.”
Listen the podcast below to learn more about Summit and Guidehouse’s work supporting the modernization of FSA and creating a more consistent, integrated customer experience. And let us know what you think!
This project has been funded at least in part with Federal funds from the U.S. Department of Education under contract number 91003119A0008. The content of this publication does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Department of Education nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.