The South Carolina Commission on Higher Education hosted an Industry Innovation Summit Oct. 28 to learn more about offerings from the Oracle corporation that could contribute to increases in higher education attainment and a stronger home-grown tech workforce here in South Carolina.
Dr. Jim Purcell, Executive Director of the Alabama Commission on Higher Education, and Denise Hobbs, Senior Regional Director for North America with Oracle were the key presenters for the summit. Purcell discussed Alabama’s recent increase in Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion, while Hobbs presented information on the Oracle Academy and the benefit it can offer institutions in South Carolina.
Alabama’s FAFSA Success
FAFSA completion is a requirement to receive federal aid. Many colleges also require FAFSA completion for the allocation of state financial aid and institutional financial aid.
Within the past two years, approximately $67 million of potential Pell Grant funding for the state of Alabama went unclaimed, Purcell explained at the event.
To help more students complete FAFSA, Alabama partnered with Oracle, which offers software that identifies and notifies high school students who have not completed the FAFSA, and also alerts students when their applications contain errors.
“The software is designed and developed for universities and colleges to help students get through the financial aid process, from the FAFSA to the actual disbursement of aid,” Purcell said.
This function of the Oracle software provides a more efficient FAFSA process for students by identifying errors and incomplete submissions. It also helps counselors guide students in correcting the errors and identifies which errors are most common.
Within a year of using Oracle software, Alabama saw a 30 percent increase in FAFSA completion and is now ranked seventh nationally in overall completion.
Since the 2021 academic year, FAFSA completion rates have increased in SC by approximately 4.2 percent.
“Completing the FAFSA is one of the first steps in helping more students access higher education,” Monhollon said.
Later in the event, Hobbs presented on the Oracle Academy, Oracle’s global philanthropic educational program.
Oracle Academy provides students with hands-on experience with the latest technologies, helping make them career-ready for a world that is becoming more technology-centered and advanced.
“Once a university or high school has become a member of Oracle Academy, any and all educators who find our resources helpful to elevate their student’s success can become a member of Oracle,” Hobbs said. “We work directly with faculty to help them engage our resources into their daily teaching and its through that engagement that students gain hands-on experience with the latest Oracle technology resources.”
Oracle Academy is an inclusive program that offers academic institutions and their educators free teaching and learning resources, including curriculum, cloud, software and educator professional development.
Nine public South Carolina higher education institutions are currently Oracle Academy members.