Federal Student Aid’s Journey to a More Consistent, Integrated Customer Experience

Complexity Simplified Podcast Episode 1 with Guidehouse and Summit

By Jay Hurt

In an episode for Summit's Complexity Simplified podcast, Summit Consulting director Samuel Dugger and Guidehouse partner Jay Hurt discuss how Federal Student Aid (FSA) used data and customer metrics to improve user experience and demonstrate its impact on students and borrowers. Federal Student Aid, part of the U.S. Department of Education, was designated as a performance-based organization (PBO) 25 years ago, in 1998—the first government office to receive such a designation. According to the Congressional Research Service, “PBOs are intended to be business-like, results-driven organizations that have clear objectives and measurable goals designed to improve an agency’s performance and transparency.”

As part of its journey, FSA defined its end customers as students and borrowers as well as established clear customer output and outcome metrics. One outreach campaign, “My Story,” published short 30- or 60-second vignettes about a person whose life had been significantly changed by having financial access to higher education. The campaign reached FSA’s approximately 10 million aid recipients that year and had a major impact on borrower experience.

"I was the Acting Chief Customer Experience Officer at FSA a few years ago. During that time, FSA had an outreach campaign called “My Story”. They were short 30 or 60-second vignettes about an individual whose life had been significantly changed by financial access to higher education. Multiply this very powerful single story by 10 million aid recipients every year, and you have demonstrated clear and frankly very powerful customer outcomes."

— Jay Hurt, Partner, Guidehouse Financial Services

Dugger notes, “FSA employs sophisticated customer experience tools to ensure that their work is impacting that experience. These tools include user experience research and design, data-driven communication methodologies, and coordinated customer relationship management.” User experience research involves methods such as surveys on the bottom of FSA’s web pages, questions on social media, and A/B testing of email components.

Hurt adds, “The Summit Consulting and Guidehouse team includes a UX researcher and a UX designer who directly support FSA’s Product Design Group by conducting generative and evaluative research and design for several FSA products and services, including income-driven repayment and the 2024–25 FAFSA, which is FSA’s flagship product.”

Listen the podcast below to learn more about Summit and Guidehouse’s work supporting the modernization of FSA and creating a more consistent, integrated customer experience. 


Disclaimer: This podcast and related materials do not constitute an endorsement of Guidehouse Inc. or any other non-federal entity. The opinions, anecdotes, and any other comments made by the presenter or interviewee do not represent any position of the United States Government, the FSA, or other components of the United States Government whether official or unofficial. Any opinions, anecdotes, and any other comments made by the presenter or interviewee are their own and are made in their personal capacity alone.

Jay Hurt, Partner

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