By opting to use student financial aid (SFA) to cover course materials, schools can provide relief to their students who find the ever-increasing price of textbooks a hardship. SFA is a great program for our partner schools and MBS Direct. For schools, students are ensured to receive the right materials in time for class; for us it guarantees sell-thru for all SFA students.
The way SFA is allocated depends on the school. Some schools provide their own financial aid and choose to give each student the same amount. With government aid, the amount varies per student.
Even if a school has been our partner for years, when they decide to utilize SFA, the process starts with our implementation team. They start by adding SFA vouchers as a payment option on the VB and continue to provide support through the first semester of SFA use. After implementation, the school contacts their Account Manager with any SFA voucher questions.
For schools, it is as simple as compiling student names and ID numbers, amounts allotted, dates funds are available, dates they expire, and optional student email to create the SFA vouchers. In schools with a small number receiving aid, the school enters the information through the service center via our highly secure FTP server. For higher ed schools, where a number of students receive financial aid, the school transmits SFA information to be entered into our system.
As the data is entered into our system, the student's SFA voucher information is emailed with instructions on how to use. The aid should be available in about 10 minutes, unless the student is receiving their funds during our busiest time (July or August); then vouchers should be there within the day. We coordinate the mailing with the day the bookstore opens so students can use their aid immediately.
When a student chooses to pay with their voucher on the VB, they are alerted to what their school allows the voucher to cover (usually certain shipping charges and recommended or required materials only). Vouchers cannot be used on marketplace or rentals. As the student shops, a tally of the financial aid used is displayed at the top of the page so there are no surprises when it comes time to check out. If the student has materials that aren’t covered by their SFA voucher, they will be directed to pay the difference with a credit card.
In any event, we make sure our clients have the support they need throughout the SFA process.