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8 Questions about Integrating Financial Aid with Slate

Written By:
Jeremiah Tudor
Wednesday, October 14, 2020


Is it possible to integrate Slate with Banner/PowerFAIDs?

It certainly is. Here are a few things to consider before you begin your SIS integration:

  1. What data points will you be moving between the two systems?
  2. Which system do you consider to be the system of record?
  3. How frequently will you be transferring data between the two systems?

What information can you bring back from Slate to the SIS for aid packaging?

As long as you have a field in your SIS to contain the Slate information, you can transfer almost any data point between the two systems. This can be anything from application status, scholarship nominations, recommendations, etc.  We recommend you set up these types of transfers to occur nightly. Though it is important to consider what information you'll need to be updated more frequently.

How often can these data transfers occur?

We'd recommend using batch files nightly between the systems.

For example, personal information and updates can probably wait for overnight processing. For other information, such as checklist items, you may want to keep more up to date. That way, when a counselor is speaking with a student, they have the most relevant information available. To do this, simply create your checklist file as a separate export from your Financial Aid Management System. This will allow you and your team to have updated information for these students based on your specific needs.

Award Letters

How do you send financial aid letters from Slate using data from PowerFAIDs?

Financial aid letters can be produced in Slate from your Financial Aid (FA) Management System in a couple ways. The most common is to pull PDF letters from your FA Management System and upload them to Slate as a decision letter. You can then release the letters and have it viewable from the student's status page.

Another option is to import the data points of the aid letter into Slate and create a template within a status page or portal that will populate the information into a seamless format that can be viewable by the student.

When releasing online decision letters and financial aid award letters at the same time in Slate, how can you ensure that students have viewed their admissions decision letter BEFORE their award letter?

If you are importing the award letter as a decision letter, the only way to show the admissions decision letter first is to delay releasing the award letter until after the admissions decision letter has been viewed.

We recommend building out a template to show the award letter within a portal. That way you can hide the template until the decision letter has been viewed by the student.

Permissions & Compliance

How much Slate access should be granted to the Financial Aid staff?

This varies from institution to institution. Some colleges/universities already have their Financial Aid staff utilizing parts of Slate, whereas others decide they want to use their instance solely for the Admissions/Enrollment Marketing offices. When deciding what's best for your institution, it's important to consider what information you want the Financial Aid team to be able to see (and not see) as well as what information you'd like them to be able to edit (and not edit).

Utilizing the various permission tools within Slate can make this task very easy to accomplish. For example, you can set up Financial Aid permission rules where financial aid counselors are able to see most of the student application information but are not allowed to make changes. As you add new fields, you need to think about restricting permissions of those who already have Slate access; some information may be shareable to admissions and financial aid counselors, but faculty, coaches and student tele-counselors may require different restrictions.

What compliance issues and requirements do institutions considering Slate for Financial Aid have to consider?

First and foremost, you must ensure you are following federal, state, and local regulations. The two largest factors are FERPA and Title IV requirements. Per FERPA, if you're bringing any personal identifiable information (PPI) into Slate, you need to be mindful of a few things: what information you're including, who can see this information, and how a user is able to access it.

The Department of Education allows schools to disclose certain "directory" information without a student's written consent. This may include: the student's name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, honors and awards, and dates of attendance. However, before disclosing student information to a third party - including the student's parent/guardian - you must have written permission from the student.

Per Title IV, electronic signatures must be protected by a pin or login that can be traced back to the specific person signing.

To comply with these regulations,  we recommend using the financial aid portal security setting of “Application.” The login for the portal is the Slate username and password, which is given only to the applicant, and can be traced to that specific person. If the applicant wishes another person to access their information within the portal, the applicant can share the financial aid details themselves.

Getting Started

I need help integrating financial aid with Slate. Can Underscore help me?

The answer is YES! Fill out this short form to let us know you’re ready for a partnership with Underscore and one of our team members will be in contact with you shortly.

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About the Author

The specialist. With more than 15 years of enrollment experience, Jeremiah is what you'd consider an admissions wizard. From counselor to dean of admissions, he has spent his time implementing undergraduate and graduate instances, as well as an advancement module. When he's not busy uncovering new ways to maximize Slate, he's enjoying long walks on the beach.


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