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  • Writer's pictureSarah Camp

Kent State Processing Upgrade Yields Measurable Results


  • School Size: Large

  • Affiliations: Public

  • Tuition: $11,000/year

  • Use Case: Automation and Time Savings

  • School System: Banner

  • Results: 56 hours saved for FAO through February of AY 2022-2023, and an additional 82.5 hours saved for Bursar's Office through February 2022-2023.


"My only regret is that we didn't do it sooner."

- Brenda Dillon, Kent State University

Kent State joined ELM in February 2021 with full automation of their loans after moving on from another private loan processing system.

Since onboarding with ELM, Kent State University calculated over 56 hours saved (AY22-23) through February, just in the Financial Aid Office. Also, according to Brenda Dillon, Assistant Director at Kent State, ELM provided an automated refund process that has saved their Bursar's Office an additional 82.5 work hours this academic year.

How did this partnership happen?

Conferences are an excellent way for schools, lenders, and other vendors to come together for a common purpose— to help students achieve their financial goals. At one of these conferences, Director of Financial Aid Programs Sylvia Bustard from Kent State University was chatting with a colleague and mentioned how unhappy their institution was with their current private loan processing partner. Loans would often get lost in the system with little explanation and no notification from the company. These lost loans and other glitches became harder to ignore as time passed.

The colleague suggested that the University consider an alternative and spoke about ELM Resources.

Sylvia knew about ELM from various lenders, conferences, and emails but had no particular connections with the company. She decided to contact Raina Chezem, AVP of Growth and Development at ELM, for information gathering and clarity on operations.

"When I spoke to Sylvia early on, I really wanted to understand their current processes and systems, and just listened to them. And they in turn wanted to learn how we operated," said Raina. "Kent was very passionate about wanting to make things as smooth as possible for their students and staff, so being notified of changes was discussed heavily," Raina said.

That initial discussion quickly led to a follow-up meeting between Kent State Financial Aid Office and ELM team members to demo ELMOne, ELM's centralized solution to private student loan processing.

Knowing that Kent State University utilized Ellucian/Banner, the ELM team was able to focus on how the platform's functionality could help them automate their loans.

After very little time and deliberation, Kent State determined that ELM had several advantages compared to the current partner and would be a better option. These key advantages included ELM's solid platform, the ability to automate their loans using Banner, the reporting capabilities, and the more efficient disbursement functionality.

"Before ELM, we manually matched the applicants to the Banner ID in our system. Our Bursar's Office was still required to return paper checks directly to lenders instead of having a service like the NDN." Brenda Dillon said.

The final step was meeting with Kent State Bursar's Office to review the MSA and start onboarding. Raina said, "When we met with their Bursar's Office, we discussed their pain points. Ultimately, the fact that we could help them automate their loans and electronically transfer funds was the most appealing."

What ultimately led this Kent State to choose ELM as a partner?

"The reporting capabilities and the ability to upload certification request files directly into Banner," Brenda said. "My only regret is that we didn't do it sooner."

Any additional benefits to highlight?

After deciding to upgrade from her previous service, Brenda Dillon included the ELM transition as one of her efficiency solutions within a Six Sigma LEAN certification project. Brenda has since presented this project's methodology and impressive outcomes at industry conferences.

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