3 minute read

Extending Student Success Beyond the Student Finance Office

11/28/2023 8:00 PM

Higher ed institutions are constantly innovating to fit the changing needs of students to support their success. Kevin Smith, Assistant Vice President and Director of Student Records and Financial Services at Canisius University, joins FOCUS to share how the university’s experience in evolving their one-stop shop with a new solution from TouchNet, Student Account Advisor. Smith offers insights on how Student Account Advisor provides a comprehensive view of a student’s financial engagement while protecting sensitive information, how Canisius has applied the solution, and his plans for campus-wide expansion.

About Canisius University

Canisius University is a liberal arts institution outside of Buffalo, New York. The university is a Jesuit institution that serves 2,700 students across undergraduate and graduate programs. Canisius is a long-time TouchNet partner and has been live since 2001 when they initially implemented credit card payments in the payment gateway. Over the years, the university has added many solutions including Cashiering, the Bill+Payment suite, Payment Plans, Marketplace for ecommerce, and ACH validation with the help of TouchNet. Most recently, Canisius added TouchNet’s newest solution, Student Account Advisor, into the fold and has already seen tremendous results.

What is Student Account Advisor?

When Canisius’ Student Records and Financial Services Center converted to a one-stop shop, the last piece to provide a more efficient experience was the addition of Student Account Advisor. TouchNet’s Student Account Advisor is an integrated solution that provides a centralized oversight and advanced customer service to students who have questions or need personal assistance with their accounts.

The solution pulls data from student information software (SIS) systems into one screen for easy navigation, without displaying any sensitive information. The unified dashboard of student information eliminates the need to sign into multiple systems, giving advisors more time to help students and enhancing the student experience in financial offices. Authorization can be customized to give certain advisors and offices more access than others to mitigate privacy concerns. The built-in communication function allows advisors to reach out directly to students in need, or to follow up on their questions.

Simplifying advising students

Since implementing Student Account Advisor, Canisius University has seen great improvements in staff efficiency. Student Account Advisor is primarily utilized in the Student Records and Financial Services Center, but has also been rolled out to the Griff Center (their office for advising, tutoring, mentoring, career success, and coaching), and the university’s co-op graduate programs. Plans for further expansion include other high-contact offices, such as deans and academic advising, that students engage with. Smith finds that the solution has overall eased complications in student transactions in his office and other on-campus applications for staff.

“It simplified the transaction. It created a true one-stop shop experience that enabled the users to assist students and parents when discussing financial aid, student accounts, and academic data points that are crucial in a student's success,” said Smith.

In addition to these simplified transactions, Canisius University has experienced higher student retention rates since Student Account Advisor’s addition to the one-stop shop. Smith credits this to the centralized information dashboard, giving advisors a more holistic view of a student’s situation and more opportunity for a more personalized student experience.

Set your institution up for success

Although Canisius’ transformation with Student Account Advisor didn’t happen overnight, Smith and other management at the university learned to ask the right questions to maximize the solution. One of the most important parts of figuring out the right plan for implementation is to identify those high-engagement offices that deal with students regularly and decide if the solution would simplify processes.

As Smith outlines, another key step in the process is properly training staff on how to use the software in the most efficient way possible. Finally, keep in mind the idea of helping the whole student, not just with finances. This will open up opportunities for Student Account Advisor expansion, improving the student experience along the way.

To learn more about Student Account Advisor, schedule a demo with a TouchNet Solutions Consultant.