Historically, the financial aid area of higher education institutions has been slower to computerize than other college support areas, according to St. John (1985) and Shelley (1989). Major obstacles noted by these authors include inadequate funding, lack of knowledgeable staff, lack of training, and lack of time. St. John and Shelley note that, more recently, information management techniques in financial aid are changing as quickly as they are in other areas. Barnes (1994) noted this same trend, reporting that financial aid offices are one of the primary users of information and computer technology in postsecondary education institutions. Technology use in financial aid offices to date includes the manipulation of large amounts of data in application processing, making awards, and keeping records, as well as accessing student information data files to mail award notifications and to credit financial aid to student accounts. Further, technology is available to assist financial aid administrators in calculating the specific costs of student attendance, performing need analysis, managing funds, and tracking documents (Shelley, 1989). Concern now appears to be changing from administrative uses of technology within the financial aid office, to the accessibility of technology to students, parents, and guidance counselors through the Internet or CD-ROM. Floyd ( 1996) notes particular concern about the disparity of access to technology by students in lower income categories. Specifically, government studies show that 15% of lower-income families have access to computers in their home, compared with 36% of higher-income families (Floyd, 1996). This difference is attributed, in part, to the lack of computer training available to lower income youth and their families. For example, a family may have access to computers, but may not have the skills to take advantage of the technology. Expense has also been identified as a major constraint to access.
Brown Wright, Dianne A.; Stewart, Gregory; and Burrell, Charlotte
"Financial Aid Application Technology Utilization by High School Students and Their Parents,"
Journal of Student Financial Aid: Vol. 29
, Article 4.
Available at: http://publications.nasfaa.org/jsfa/vol29/iss2/4