The College of New Rochelle (CNR) in New York USA was founded in 1904 and has seven campuses and over 6,000 students. CNR runs its administration with College Administrative Processing System (CAPS) from LANSA business partner DB Systems Corporation. CAPS gives staff and students easy browser access inside the college and at home.
Nancy Girling, Director of Information Systems at The College of New Rochelle, says, "CAPS allows us to investigate the financial aid options available to a student at their first interview and apply for aid directly from our system. The browser-based ASP solution allows us to budget accurately and run the college administration for 6,000 students and 800 PCs with only four IT and network staff."
We run the administration for 6,000 students and 800 PCs with only four IT and network staff
CNR previously had individual systems for admission, financial aid and general student administration. As a result there was a lot of duplication of data and effort. Because the systems were not integrated it was very difficult to track students and to consolidate information in reports. CNR experimented with client server applications and copied information from one system to another. But that became a nightmare with out-of-synch data and one-way transfers.
"We knew that the solution was to centralize the data but, of course, no one wanted to give up what they knew and loved," says Girling.
CNR had done a lot of customization through the years, especially in the area of non-traditional student programs and financial aid. Over 80 percent of CNR's students receive financial aid packages, which combine grants, loans, and work study from Federal, State and private agencies, as well as from the College.
It is one of CNR's missions to provide an educational opportunity to the adult learner. Adult students have a lot of other responsibilities and financial concerns. CNR wants to assist these students in getting as much financial aid as possible, and present low interest loan options when additional funds are required. Once the package is generated and approved by the student, the aid and loans are processed on the spot by a CNR counsellor rather than leaving this quite complex task up to the student.
"Maximizing aid is critical for our organization and student community," says Girling "Therefore financial aid had to be an integrated part of the solution."
"We looked at package systems, but nothing seemed to fit. DB Systems, who had been a provider to us for several years, had just started to extend their CAPS solution to the Web. They proposed we use CAPS over the Web on their central iSeries server. The proposal was very attractive because DB Systems knew our system and its customizations very well and their ASP solution didn't require a huge upfront investment."
With CAPS we can do the application in minutes, resulting in more on the spot enrollments
CAPS was originally developed in a mixture of RPG and COBOL. The AS/400 site and internal administration modules were always integrated, but DB Systems wanted to provide integration to the outside world. School staff needs integrated access to rules, regulations and forms on Government sites and they need to be able to post online aid applications directly from the school system. CAPS was also to be extended to give students access to pre-registration, class schedules and grades.
Kevin Brown, managing director of DB Systems Corporation, explains, "We started by Web facing our modules with Seagull's JWalk This gave a browser interface to CAPS and allowed us to use the existing RPG and COBOL code without any changes. What we achieved was a more modern look and I could even demonstrate CAPS from a laptop. But underneath, we still had the inflexible RPG and COBOL legacy code. It is like painting a car that has already done 120,000 miles. The car may look decent, but eventually you need a new car."
"We looked around for a tool to redevelop CAPS and make things really better. We compared WebSphere and LANSA and selected LANSA as it gave us cross platform deployment, real Web and event driven development and native iSeries performance -- all with a single skill set. Everybody has different learning skills, but LANSA was easy for our programmers to learn."
The Admission and Financial Aid modules were the first to be redeveloped in LANSA, followed by the Registrar and Bursar modules. Soon to be rolled out in 100 percent pure LANSA are the Course Offerings, Class Scheduling, Attendance, Faculty, Student Housing and Student KIOSK modules.
"One of our top priorities was to provide the users with the ability to create their own drill-down reports. We created generic reports that the users can customize and save for subsequent use. In addition to LANSA-based reports we have also provided HTML hotlinks to reports built with WebFocus from Information Builders. We can run the WebFocus reports from LANSA and also call LANSA from WebFocus.""
LANSA gives us cross platform deployment, real Web and event driven development and native iSeries performance – all with a single skill set
"CAPS allows us to investigate the financial aid options available to a student at their first interview and apply for aid online directly from our system," says Girling. "We can package students immediately on enrollment, and process their aid and loans directly even before they have filled out any forms with the Federal Government."
"Filling out the financial aid application forms would take hours, because you would have to look up a lot of tables. With CAPS our counselors can do it in minutes while the student is sitting at their desk."
Because the financial aid information is available to recruitment and admissions, we can determine the potential aid package for a student and convey it to them along with the other recruitment information. This is very powerful and takes the uncertainty about costs away for student. Students can make a decision whether to go forward with enrollment right then and there, resulting in more enrollments."
"Because we are able to process financial aid requests so quickly, the college receives the funds faster and there is less need for us to seek short term financing from our banks. This saves us thousand of dollars in interest per year."
"Online access to personal account information, class schedules and grades is a big advantage, especially for our part-time and commuting students who make up over 80 percent of our community. We experimented with 5250-emulation access to data from kiosks throughout the campus, but the browser-based interface is so much better and hugely appreciated by our student community."
"The browser interface is also very attractive from an IT point of view as we don't have to install or maintain any client software. And the browser interface requires very little user training and is easier to support. We have about 300 client PCs spread over 20 buildings in seven campuses accessing the CAPS system. We have over 800 PCs in total and as functionality in CAPS grows, so does the number of users. Client support used to be a nightmare. The browser architecture is a lot more flexible and support is easy."
"Users now have information and easy reporting at their finger tips and don't need help from IT anymore to print a report or address labels. As the various modules are released, faculty and staff will have the secure access that they need from both on and off campus through a browser interface that is familiar and straightforward."
With LANSA we could use our own knowledgeable staff, decreasing redevelopment costs to about one third of what it would have been if we had to call in a team of technical consultants
"Sharing information between departments has made us a more efficient organization overall," Girling concludes. "We are now looking at implementing more student Web-initiated functionality in the admission, registration and financial aid areas."
"The system is administered by DB Systems Corporation, a very professional and responsive group of people. We pay a monthly amount and don't have to worry about hardware, software or hiring programmers. The solution allows us to budget accurately and run the college administration for 6,000 students and 800 PCs with only four IT and network staff."
"With LANSA we could redevelop CAPS with our own knowledgeable staff," adds Brown. "I estimate that redevelopment costs were about one third of what it would have been if we had to call in a team of technical consultants. Using our own staff resulted in a higher quality product, because we understand college administration and we care."
"With LANSA we have extended our market to Windows and Linux platforms and we can offer CAPS in an ASP environment. This is a huge advantage for any solution provider."
With LANSA we have extended our market to Windows and Linux platforms
Company and System Information
- The College of New Rochelle (CNR), founded in 1904 by the Ursuline Order, was the first Catholic college for women in New York State. Today CNR comprises the all-women School of Arts & Sciences and three schools which admit women and men -- the School of New Resources (for adult learners), the School of Nursing and the Graduate School. CNR has 24 campuses over 7 campus locations. The main campus is located in lower Westchester County, 16 miles north of New York City. The other six campus locations are in New York City.
- For more information visit: www.cnr.edu
- DB Systems Corporation is a LANSA business partner specializing in college administration software and full service software development and consulting.
- For more information visit: www.dbsystemscorp.com