How Summit and Guidehouse Helped Federal Student Aid Create a Better Customer Experience, Part 2 of 3

December 12, 2023 Kate Machado

Complexity Simplified: The Summit Podcast logo

Missed the first part of our podcast series with Guidehouse? Listen to it here. In this episode of Complexity Simplified, Summit Consulting director Samuel Dugger and Guidehouse partner Jay Hurt continue their discussion of the work both firms have done to help Federal Student Aid (FSA) modernize its systems and craft a better customer experience.

Today, Dugger and Hurt look at two large projects that have impacts across the entirety of FSA. First is the Next Generation Financial Services Environment, or “NextGen.” NextGen began in 2017, and its purpose was to modernize the systems and processes that students, parents, borrowers, and school partners use to apply for, administer, and process student financial aid. The NextGen Program Office established a project management plan to guide activities such as decision governance, budget and staff management, and schedule management.

Hurt notes, “Despite the fact that the pace of change continues to accelerate for Federal Student Aid, they still are able to successfully implement project activities thanks to the program management structure established through the Next Gen Program Office.”

Then, in 2021, FSA initiated a multi-project program called Student Aid and Borrower Eligibility Reform (SABER) to reorganize the modernization of the application portion of the student aid life cycle. According to FSA’s Strategic Plan Fiscal Year 2023–2027, “The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form is the most vital step in applying for federal grants, work-study, and loans for college. States and colleges use FAFSA® information to award their grants, scholarships, and loans. […] By automating the verification process and improving the exchange of tax data to help people file FAFSA® forms, FSA optimizes access for students and families.” The SABER initiative allows FSA to realize the planned outcomes in its strategic plan successfully.

“By already having the framework for performance management, stakeholder communication, scope and change management, risk management, and schedule management in place,” Dugger says, “it can be leveraged to get moving on change without spending time on the learning curve for a new set of project management capabilities.” It is this framework that allows the NextGen and SABER programs to more easily share information about each of their individual projects and reduce the potential for individual programs implementing incompatible requirements.

Listen the podcast below to learn more about NextGen and SABER, 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.


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