Feature spotlight: Percentage-based financial aid awards

We recently added percentage-based aid awards to Financial Aid. These awards cover a certain percentage of a student's charges (as opposed to a set amount) and automatically calculate the appropriate amount for each student who receives that award. For example, you offer an award that covers 10% of tuition for full- and part-time grad students. One of your full-time students is invoiced $14,320 in tuition and a part-timer is charged $5,660. The award automatically calculates $1,432 for the first student and $566 for the second.

Specific instructions are, of course, readily at hand in the Knowledge Base article; but here's an overview of how to set up, offer, and disburse these awards...

The storyline

  1. You start an aid application for a student. The aid classification in the app includes COA categories.
  2. You offer a student the percentage-based award. Populi calculates an amount based on the COA categories.
  3. After the student accepts the award, the disbursements are calculated based on the offered amount and are then scheduled.
  4. The student enrolls and charges are invoiced. The award auto-calculates the final offered amount—and the disbursements—based on the invoiced amount.


Beyond setting up a percentage-based aid award type, most of the setup for these awards happens on the aid application side. You can either set up new items or modify existing ones to make sure they accommodate these awards.

  • COA Categories: You can direct an award to apply only to certain kinds of charges or let it cover a portion of all types of charges. For example, an award might be used to pay part of a student's tuition and fees. Use COA Categories to define the parts of an overall COA.
  • Aid Classifications: Include the relevant COA Categories and then enter the amounts. The figures here will be used to calculate the award's amount when you offer it to the student.
  • Award Types: Naturally, you'll want to set up a percentage-based award type. When adding the new award, check next to Percentage-based and then indicate the charge types (your COA Categories!) and the percentage this award will cover. (You can also set up an Aid Year Schedule for this award type while you're at it.)

The aid application process

Although it's not likely, you may end up modifying COA for individual students in their aid applications. Percentage awards are pegged to the amounts entered in an individual student's application, whether they were put in manually or inherited from an aid classification.

Packaging aid

When you offer a percentage-based award to a student, you'll do so just as you do for any other award type. If you've followed all the setup steps, Populi will automatically calculate an amount based on the numbers in the student's application. If you haven't set up all the items covered above, you can still offer an award, but you'll need to calculate the amount yourself.

In either case, the amount in an offered award is essentially a placeholder: the actual award amount will be based on what the student is invoiced. If you're including the award in an aid award letter, you should consider mentioning this.


Percentage-based awards are disbursed like any other award: via a disbursement batch. Although no special steps are necessary during the disbursement phase, you will want to pay attention to a few things before running the batch:

  • The disbursement amount will be calculated when term charges are invoiced.
  • Typical practice is to disburse aid after charges are invoiced. However, these steps may need to be reversed under certain circumstances. If you disburse a percentage-based award before charges are invoiced:
    • The amount will be based on what was offered, which you'll remember came from COA categories.
    • Should the invoiced amount ultimately differ from the offered amount, Populi will automatically generate either an additional disbursement (in case invoices exceed COA) or a refund-to-source (in case COA exceeds invoices). You'll have to run an additional batch to apply these to the student's account.
  • If need be, you can always manually-recalculate these awards on the Awards report or on Profile > Financial Aid.

Thus, percentage-based awards. If you have further questions about them, don't forget the Knowledge Base article; we're also happy to field your support requests.