Modernizing Federal Student Aid

Guidehouse and Summit Consulting discuss Federal Student Aid's Next Gen and SABER program & project management planning - Complexity Simplified Podcast episode 2.

By Jay Hurt

In this podcast episode of Complexity Simplified, Summit Consulting director Samuel Dugger and Guidehouse partner Jay Hurt discuss the work Guidehouse and Summit Consulting have done to help Federal Student Aid (FSA) modernize its systems and craft a better customer experience.

Today, Dugger and Hurt look at two large projects that have impacts across the entirety of FSA. First is the Next Generation Financial Services Environment, or “Next Gen.” Next Gen began in 2017, and its purpose was to modernize the systems and processes that students, parents, borrowers, and school partners use to apply for, administer, and process student financial aid. The Next Gen Program Office established a project management plan to guide activities such as decision governance, budget and staff management, and schedule management.

Hurt notes, “Despite the fact that the pace of change continues to accelerate for Federal Student Aid, they still are able to successfully implement project activities thanks to the program management structure established through the Next Gen Program Office.”

In 2021, FSA initiated a multi-project program called Student Aid and Borrower Eligibility Reform (SABER) to reorganize the modernization of the application portion of the student aid life cycle. According to FSA’s Strategic Plan Fiscal Year 2023–2027, “The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form is the most vital step in applying for federal grants, work-study, and loans for college. States and colleges use FAFSA® information to award their grants, scholarships, and loans. […] By automating the verification process and improving the exchange of tax data to help people file FAFSA® forms, FSA optimizes access for students and families.” The SABER initiative allows FSA to realize the planned outcomes in its strategic plan successfully.

“By already having the framework for performance management, stakeholder communication, scope and change management, risk management, and schedule management in place,” Dugger says, “it can be leveraged to get moving on change without spending time on the learning curve for a new set of project management capabilities.” It is this framework that allows the Next Gen and SABER programs to more easily share information about each of their individual projects and reduce the potential for individual programs implementing incompatible requirements.





Missed the previous podcast episode? Listen to FSA's Journey to 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

Let Us Help Guide You

Complexity demands a trusted guide with the unique expertise and cross-sector versatility to deliver unwavering success. We work with organizations across regulated commercial and public sectors to catalyze transformation and pioneer new directions for the future.

Stay ahead of the curve with news, insights and updates from Guidehouse about issues relevant to your organization and its work.