The Office of Student Financial Services at Johns Hopkins recently introduced a new set of online tools to support students, parents, alumni, staff, and other visitors seeking information and education regarding financial aid.
First, the office has launched a new chatbot, called Jay. This interactive tool, which is now available universitywide, can answer thousands of financial aid questions in English and Spanish, 24/7. Visitors can use the chatbot to learn how to apply for financial aid, when aid will be disbursed, or how to locate their bill online. There is even information about the impact of COVID-19 on the university.
While Jay is not a live chat agent, it is a helpful starting point for information. If Jay is unable to answer a question, it will direct you to contact the appropriate office to obtain that answer. Since Jay is school-specific, users must visit their own school's website to use Jay and receive answers about their school's specific financial aid policies and procedures.
In addition to the chatbot, each school has its own video portal, which is available anytime. This resource can provide further information and answers on financial aid; it includes tutorials and topics on applying for aid, verification, and student loans. Users can select the "Browse Categories" tab to find a video that best supports questions they have about a variety of financial aid–related subjects.
To further support students, each school has also launched a Financial Wellness Resource Center. This center houses financial literacy tools such as videos and quizzes to educate students about topics such as budgeting, identity theft, and responsible borrowing. Students and visitors can access the Resource Center directly from each school's financial literacy webpage.
"All nine of the university's academic divisions were involved in the selection of the new financial literacy solution," said Tom McDermott, assistant vice provost for financial aid. "What set this solution apart from the other vendors was their use of a chatbot to connect students to their extensive video library. Students get real-time answers to their questions 24/7, along with suggestions for further study on a range of important financial topics."
Since the April launch, the chatbot has had interactions with 1,800 visitors per week, and roughly 1,000 videos have been viewed, McDermott said.
"The early usage statistics suggest that the tool is answering many questions quickly and easily," he said, "reducing the need for students to comb through our website or wait to speak to someone on the phone for answers."
University leaders hope to implement Jay in other student service areas, such as billing and registration in the future. Another important enhancement that is in development will empower the chatbot to provide student-specific information so that logged-in students can ask more specific questions about their individual account, such as "What is my balance?" and "What is the status of my financial aid?"
Financial aid websites by school
- Bloomberg School of Public Health financial aid website
- Carey Business School financial aid website
- Krieger School of Arts and Sciences (including AAP) financial aid website
- Peabody Institute financial aid website
- School of Advanced International Studies financial aid website
- School of Education financial aid website
- School of Medicine financial aid website
- School of Nursing financial aid website
- Whiting School of Engineering financial aid website