Approximately 66% of TU students receive some sort of financial aid. For most, this aid comes in the form of loans and/or grants from the federal or state government. However, some students do not qualify for any governmental aid, or they qualify for an amount insufficient to meet their financial need. Many of these students are compelled to find an alternative source of funds and turn to the private sector for a loan.
These so-called “alternative loans” – loans from a non-governmental source, such as a bank – have traditionally been a headache for the Bursar’s Office, as well for students. Up until this school year, alternative loan funds were disbursed from lenders to TU via paper checks. The vast majority of these checks were made out to both TU and the student taking out the loan. This meant that the Bursar’s Office needed to contact every student, often more than once, when an alternative loan check arrived for them, because the check could not be deposited and credited to the student’s university account until the student came to the Bursar’s Office and endorsed it. TU was receiving nearly 2,000 alternative loan checks each school year, so this created a tremendous amount of work for the Bursar staff and inconvenienced a fairly large swath of TU’s student population.
But this all changed last summer.
That is when the Bursar’s Office, the Financial Aid Office, and representatives from Financial Services collaborated to get the university up and running with ELM Resources. ELM (Education Loan Management) serves as an intermediary between alternative loan providers and universities, providing an electronic platform through which loan information and funds can be transmitted. Best of all, it’s free to the universities that use it!
Almost all alternative loan providers use ELM to work with universities, allowing TU to reduce the number of alternative loan checks it receives by over 90%. So, the Bursar’s Office no longer needs to contact all those students and hold on to their checks until they come to endorse them. The students have their loan funds posted to their accounts quickly, without having to visit the Bursar’s Office. As soon as TU receives funds from ELM, the Financial Aid Office disburses the funds to students’ accounts electronically!
This is what we in the Bursar’s Office call a “win-win” for both university staff and students. It is also an excellent example of collaborative efforts among university departments bringing about positive results for TU.