ITS launches internally built student record system
Information Technology Services and campus partners unveiled several major components of Project MAUI (short for Made At the University of Iowa), a new student-information system that was custom developed by a team of UI software engineers. The last big pieces of MAUI, modules used for financial aid and billing, went into production in early 2013.
The homegrown student record system manages vast amounts of data, including nearly 1 million communications per year for more than 300,000 prospective students, 40,000 applicants, and 4,500 first-year students. Each year the system facilitates the disbursement of over $300 million in financial aid and the collection of $450 million in tuition, fees, and charges. More than 30,000 enrolled students register for classes online, generating up to a million transactions per day.
Seven years in the making
ITS has provided the university with a fantastic tool,” says UI Director of Admissions Emil Rinderspacher. “By having a system built by our own internal staff, we have the flexibility to shape our technology in the future, adding enhancements that work specifically for us.”
The student information system development efforts kicked off in 2006, after the university investigated vended solutions to replace its 30-year-old student record system and discovered that the products on the market didn’t meet the institution’s needs.
In building MAUI, developers used the existing student self-service portal (ISIS) as a foundation, and addressed technical limitations with a more contemporary user interface, better integration with other systems, additional features, and enhanced functionality. In the end, the custom system with re-engineered business processes based on new technologies was much less expensive to build and maintain than a vended system.
Features for students and applicants
Through an online portal, students can view schedules, grades, and financial aid information, and receive and pay their U-bills electronically. Students like the new degree audit format, which is more user-friendly and easy to read. Integrations with the course-management system and a student success early intervention system help officials identify at-risk students so the university can reach out to offer extra resources they may need.
Freshmen applicants can now find out within 48 hours whether they have been accepted to the UI, sparing them the inconvenience of waiting a couple weeks to receive a decision. That’s possible because MAUI is able to read data submitted by the applicants and apply business rules to determine whether they meet the basic criteria for admission, the honors program, and certain scholarships. The new system also automates processes for placement testing and transcript submission.
Conveniences for UI administrators
MAUI is a great step forward for the admissions office, in part because it allows staff to work remotely—which is vital to those who are on the road representing the UI at high school visits or college fairs. New members of the team get up to speed quickly because the system is so intuitive.
A new built-in communication engine, Dispatch, is a big improvement from the previous commercial system. In 2013 it generated and tracked over 4.2 million e-mails and printed 360,000 documents.
The Academic Advising Center likes the “my advisees” page, which allows advisors to review caseloads from a variety of parameters. A feature that allows students to add or drop courses online during the first week of class is much more efficient than the old paper method, and advisors can easily track which advisees make changes to their schedules.
I can't say enough about what a great tool TeleHawk is,” says Eric Page, senior associate director of strategic communications in the Office of Admissions. “It has proven to be a fantastic tool from both an efficiency and caller accountability perspective. We’ve been able to increase productivity and quality contacts while decreasing the amount of student phone team resources.”
MAUI saves the financial aid office time by creating session-based costs of attendance using tuition and fees tied directly to a program of study. It allows staff to check student eligibility before releasing aid to billing, eliminates paper flow, and provides real-time simulations for awarding, requesting, and disbursing aid. Automated communications can now be sent with the click of a button.
Admissions is fond of the TeleHawk function, which supports calling campaigns by providing a call sequence and script, along with the ability to capture call details and outcomes. Integration into MAUI allows direct access to student attributes and eliminates the need for data imports and exports.
A monumental effort
Project MAUI represents a monumental effort and tremendous collaboration between ITS and Provost Office functional units,” says Mike Noel, senior director of ITS-Administrative Information Systems. “Our initial vision has been realized, and we now have a solid foundation to build on.”
MAUI has already proven its flexibility and expandability in supporting new gender codes for admissions and the first-week add/drop course functionality for student records. And, the custom-built system may even become a model for other schools. ITS has already heard from colleagues at other institutions who are interested in developing MAUI-like solutions of their own.
- Tuition and fees assessment component
- Modules for grade processing, advisor assignment, tuition/fee assessment, and end of session
- Final components of admissions module (applicant processing, decisions)
- 48-hour admissions application decisions
- Degree audit and transfer articulation module
- Communications processing engine, Dispatch
- Final components of financial aid module (verification, awarding, disbursement, academic progress)
- Final components of billing module (charges, payments, financial aid allocation, U-bills, accounting, collections)
- New student orientation system, SOAP
- MAUI security audit and ISIS penetration testing
- Admissions Office call center application replacement, TeleHawk
- Advance placement and testing score integration and processing
- Automated course waitlists pilot
- MAUI data warehouse and reporting
- Automatic trigger of degree audits when a student’s record is modified
- Electronic drop/add process during first week of classes
- My Advisees (simple advisor view of core information about advisees)
- Financial aid and billing reconciliation reporting
Fall 2013 Financial Aid
- Awarded $72 million in loans and $75 million in grants and scholarships to 19,457 students from over 1,000 unique sources
Fall 2013 Billing
- Assessed $77 million in resident tuition for 16,202 students, $154 million in non-resident tuition for 13,784 students, and $4 million in tuition for 1,205 online students
- Processed 54,423 U-bills for 29,342 students, 10,088 employees, and about 15,000 others
- Sent 39,000 (over 70%) of U-bills electronically
- Enabled 80% of U-bills to be paid electronically through payroll deduction or ACH payments
First-week Electronic Add/Drops
- Spring 2013: 11,488
- Fall 2013: 16,925