With seven years of experience in financial aid, Erin Song is familiar with private loan processing solutions. Prior to joining Biola University as a financial aid specialist in November 2019, Song had worked in higher education at both public and private universities. She loves meeting with families and seeing student progress through their college years and into life – and private loan processing has been part of her job at different colleges.
We wanted to find out more about Song’s experience as a new user of ScholarNet so we sat down and talked with her. Here’s what we found.
How long has it been since Biola University made the switch to ScholarNet?
“It’s only been a couple of months. I’m still learning the program and finding all the benefits it offers,” said Song.
How did Biola decide to transition to ScholarNet?
Song said she had the final decision about whether to change to ScholarNet, so she did her own research. But she also trusted her supervisor’s 20-plus years of financial aid experience. “My direct supervisor has many years of ScholarNet experience and told me great things about it. She has a great relationship with [ScholarNet representative] Heather [Tapia].”
What were the determining factors in Song’s decision to take her supervisor’s recommendation?
Song said she met with ScholarNet rep Heather Tapia, who walked through how financial aid specialists use the tool. “I could see how it would work because of three main things: it’s user-friendly, and I really liked how it’s organized. Plus, having a representative like Heather who’s your direct contact instead of being part of a group chat when you need help.”
What was the implementation process like?
“We use Banner at our school. There wasn’t much of a shift in what I needed to learn. ScholarNet connects with Banner well,” said Song. “It was just a matter of learning what ScholarNet is – learning reports. Other than that, the transition was pretty smooth. We transitioned right before the busy season.”
How hard was it transitioning during peak season?
Song noted that, due to some issues they needed to resolve on their end, the school was delayed in launching. She added that launching a new private loan processing solution right before peak processing is never ideal – and she was on vacation. But the actual implementation on ScholarNet’s end was not problematic. “It was more that I came back from vacation and was learning a new program during an already busy season.”
Has using ScholarNet helped provide better service to students?
Song noted that, “With ScholarNet, there’s a clear message on the status of the loan so I’m able to give an answer right away to students. Before, I’d have to get in touch with a representative. It’s been beneficial to provide faster responses for students.”
While it’s still new, what are the best features of ScholarNet so far?
“I love how I can set up reports and filters to my own liking. That’s true with reports, notifications, SmartSearches – everything,” emphasized Song.
What challenges has ScholarNet helped you solve?
“The ScholarNet website is a lot more organized,” noted Song. “With ScholarNet, searching a student by their last name, if you only want one specific student, it’s easier to read the report. It’s more user-friendly, more organized.”
What have interactions with the Care Team been like?
“I’ve gotten a couple of emails from them when there was a discrepancy with a couple of reports. They tell me what’s wrong and they tell me what I need to fix – it’s very clear on the message.” Song compared this to her previous experience: “In the past, a problem would only come to my attention when a student told me, and I’d have to research it. It was more difficult to fix.”
What have interactions with your representative been like?
“Heather is so great. If I email her, she’s responding within like five minutes. I’m thankful she’s so responsive,” said Song. “There are times when she doesn’t know, and she says, ‘I read your email and I’ll get back to you.’ I know she’s working on it.”
Choose three words that best describe ScholarNet.
User-friendly. Organized. Awesome customer care.
What advice would you give others who might be considering ScholarNet?
Song said, “If I have colleagues who are thinking about it, I’d definitely recommend them to go to ScholarNet. I didn’t even know there was another option before.”
More to Come
With only two months using ScholarNet at the time we talked with her, Song said she’d love it if we checked back with her after she completed the private loan processing cycle so she could provide more feedback. We’ll let you know what she has to say when we do.
In the meantime, if you’d like to share your ScholarNet experience with your colleagues, don’t hesitate to reach out to your representative. We want to hear from you.