AWS Public Sector Blog

Ellucian and Troy University: Automating processes for greater efficiency and innovation

hands hold paper college application form next to an open laptop

It was not that long ago that paper forms and lines of students waiting for window service were standard at colleges and universities. And although schools had already begun transferring to paperless systems, the pandemic and its sudden pivot to virtual learning made this shift a critical need.

Now, students have an even higher expectation for seamless digital experiences to register for classes, apply for financial aid, and access social services right from their phones—anywhere, anytime. As institutions scrambled to fulfill student demand and convert workflows to digital, COVID-19 made administrators aware of the need to create flexibility, help staff work as efficiently as possible, and overhaul processes. Read on to learn how Troy University used Amazon Web Services (AWS) Partner Ellucian Workflow to digitize important protocols and improve service to students and prospective students while reducing manual errors.

Driving innovation in the southeast

Founded in 1887, Troy University is a public university in Troy, Alabama with more than 13,000 undergraduate students spread across four campuses, and offering 46 bachelor, 22 master, and three doctoral programs. In response to the challenge presented by COVID-19, the university chose AWS Partner Ellucian’s Workflow, a cloud-based solution designed specifically for higher education, to modernize outdated processes and automate tasks. Ellucian is an AWS Advanced Technology Partner and holds an AWS Education Competency. The Partner uses more than 40 AWS services, including Amazon CloudWatch, Amazon GuardDuty, and CloudEndure Disaster Recovery, to help higher-education organizations move faster, with lower costs, and at scale in order to enhance the user experience for students, faculty, and staff.

Simplifying student aid

The U.S. federal government earmarked part of the CARES Act funding for student aid, but since students cannot apply for assistance directly from the U.S. Department of Education, the university needed a flexible way to help students apply. A dynamic form from Workflow was the solution, streamlining the procedure for all involved. First, it provided the information necessary for students to determine if they were eligible for the funding. Second, it simplified the process by auto-filling the form for them using personalized data provided by Ellucian Ethos, a higher education platform designed to connect people and processes across the institution by integrating data and accessibility across applications. And last, it routed the form directly to the financial aid team to be processed.

For students, Ellucian’s solution simplified the process and answered questions of eligibility. It allowed them to access the form wherever they were and left them to fill in only the bits of information that the Ethos software could not, such as how they would be using the funds. For staff, it cut down on human error, helped them meet federal mandates and, most importantly, sped up getting aid to the students that needed it the most. As of this writing, Troy has distributed over $2 million to some 3,105 students, with applications continuing to be processed on a daily basis.

Streamlining the application process

Troy’s nursing school offers five degree programs: the associate of science in nursing (ASN), bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), master of science in nursing (MSN), and doctor of nursing practice (DNP), as well as a registered nurse (RN) mobility track for registered nurses who seek to complete the BSN degree. Managing the differing application requirements for this extensive degree offering was complex, with a large amount of traditional mail resulting in human errors. Thanks to Workflow, Troy was able to create a single, guided application process. Similar to the simplification of financial aid described above, this expedited the application process for prospective students, making it a more attractive option in a competitive market. The shift also led to time savings and error reduction.

Efficiency, into the future

Even once the pandemic has passed, the economic effects will remain, which underscores the need for increased efficiency in higher education. With Workflow, Troy University created dynamic processes for application and financial aid that are simple and effective which improved results, streamlined procedures, and reduced errors for students and staff alike.

Want to learn about leveraging the AWS cloud for higher education? Visit the AWS Partner Network to find out more.