Web-Based Financial Aid Tools Set to Launch

System Developed Under Project Orion to Smooth Handling of Student Awards

Jan. 21, 2009

Progress continues on the University’s transition to the PeopleSoft Campus Solutions data management platform, with next month marking the “go live” point for the financial aid module.

Dubbed Project Orion at UT Dallas, the transition involves the creation of a Web-based information portal that could one day manage virtually every aspect of a student’s academic career, from registering for classes to paying parking fines, to applying for graduation.

Orion team leads Cathy Coursey and James Dorman — both employees in the University’s Financial Aid Office — are working closely with consultants and programmers to build the applications that will allow for improved financial aid award packaging and payment/payout options.

The switch, planned for Feb. 12, also will give students receiving aid greater control over managing their financial accounts.  

According to Coursey, director of financial aid, one of the most immediate differences students will notice is that the Financial Aid Office will no longer manually process fund awards. 

The current process has required individual staffers to handle hundreds of requests at a time, slowing the process of determining and awarding aid.        

“After years of making awards manually, the ability to mass-package electronically will help us focus on providing improved customer service,” Coursey said.  “This change will also result in students receiving their aid packages in a timelier manner; it’s an exciting time for our office as well as those we serve.”    

In addition, financial aid communications with continuing students will soon be handled exclusively via a student’s UT Dallas e-mail address, expediting notification of financial aid information. 

All aid for fall 2009 and beyond will be awarded through Orion, while awards for both the current semester and the upcoming summer term will be given through the University’s current Student Information System, widely known as SIS.

In conjunction with the Orion conversion, the Financial Aid Office will also transition to direct lending through financial markets instead of through such financial intermediaries as banks, finance companies and mutual funds. 

Coursey said more information about that change will be forthcoming. 

About Project Orion
Orion is a Web-based information portal that will one day manage virtually every aspect of a student’s academic career, from registering for classes to paying parking fines, to applying for graduation. Orion operates on the PeopleSoft Campus Solutions platform, a comprehensive suite of software that gives users real-time information. When completed, Orion will serve nearly every consumer of University data, including students, faculty and staff. For more information about Orion, please visit the project Web site.


Media Contacts:  Jenni Huffenberger, UT Dallas, (972) 883-4431, jennib@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu

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